Consider the automobile and television: which of these two products had the most influence in changing America society during the 1950s? Why?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I will argue, with one caveat, that it was the automobile.  The caveat is that we must take the effect of the car together with that of the GI Bill and rising prosperity.  Together, these allowed America to "move out of the city."

Because so many people had cars, the GI Bill and rising prosperity allowed for the creation of suburbs.  These completely changed the American way of life.  People no longer lived close together in cities but instead moved out to the suburbs, creating a better quality of life in many ways.

Without the car, there would have been none of this movement and America would never have become the suburbanized society with all our interstate highways and our car culture.

alivorte | Student

Although both the automobile and television had marvelous influences on the society in America I the 1950s, in my opinion, the television was a greater influence. This large box of new technology held various interests for the American citizen. Not only did the television provide entertainment, it also helped to promote political campaigns and elections. In the 1952 race between Eisenhower and Stevenson, Eisenhower used a series of short spot commercials to enhance his television image and this helped his popularity to grow, eventually leading to his winning the election. Also by 1951, the schedules of the networks on television included approximately 27 hours of childrens’ programs. Between the years 1949 and 1969, the numbers of households in the United States owning at least one TV set rose from under a million to about 44 million. For advertising various products on TV (including numerous automobiles) the amount of money advertisers paid multiple TV stations and networks rose from $58 million to $1.5 billion. In the time that television was at the height of its golden age, Swanson developed the first TV dinner in 1953. Families and friends gathered in front of their TV to watch some of the most popular shows, such as “I Love Lucy” and “What’s My Line?”, and enjoyed the convenience of eating their TV dinners. Televisions, unlike cars, provided instant entertainment for the entire family. With a click of a button, they could watch news, cartoons, political debates, comedy shows, game shows, sitcoms, and movies. The television kept more people in their homes and less were attending the movies to see productions and shows. But on the bright side, TV promoted consumerism which helped to stimulate the economy. The automobile helped influence American people in the 1950s, but I believe the television had a greater impact on the society in the United States.

p.s. if you use this for an essay, dont quote directly, thanx) :)

worcester | Student


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