What are four major social movements of the 1920s?

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astrocourt's profile pic

astrocourt | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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The 1920s was a time of technological and social advances. These advances led to several new social movements.

Flappers: In the USA the 19th Amendment was passed allowing women to vote. Women also began to pursue their own careers. This period of dramatic cultural change in the status and rights of a 'modern' woman became embodied by the 'flapper' fashion movement. 

The Harlem Renaissance was a social movement that celebrated African-American culture. Spanning into the 1930s, the Renaissance saw literary and artistic growth and recognition from African-American artists.

Jazz Age: While not strictly a social movement, Jazz became very popular in the 1920s. This reflected the social freedoms and expression that the post-war society could enjoy. Jazz could also be shared across cultures and races.

In much the same way as Jazz for music, Art Deco is the architectural style characteristic of the 1920s. 'Modern' clean lines, geometric form and use of colour differentiated art deco from other classical forms.

The 1920s is also famous, in the USA, for prohibition. Just like the Flapper and Jazz movements, society's judgement of prohibition was a fine balance between modern progress and traditional customs.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There were a number of social movements that existed in the 1920s.  A few of the more important ones were:

  • Flappers.  This is not really a social movement in the sense of pushing for a particular kind of social change.  But they did reflect the social changes that were going on in the '20s.
  • The KKK.  They were at the head of a movement that was opposed to immigrants and to the new ways that were arising in American cities during this time.
  • Religious fundamentalism/evangelicalism.  This was another aspect of the backlash against the new ways.  People were pushing to get back to traditional ways during a time of great change.
  • The Harlem Renaissance and Marcus Garvey.  This was a movement that pushed the idea of black culture and promoted more pride and self sufficiency among African Americans (this was the idea of the "New Negro."
gsenviro's profile pic

gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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A large number of social changes took place in the 1920s, along with political and economic changes and a new world order that was established due to the end of World War I. Some of the more famous social movements of the 1920s include:

  • Flappers: The term refers to women who started wearing and made famous the trend of knee-length skirts and dresses and bobbed hair with a marcel wave. This was a sign of women's empowerment in society.
  • Evangelism vs. change: The 1920s saw a clash between evangelists and the new culture, including jazz, hollywood movies that portrayed scenes and lifestyles more explicit than those previously depicted, and sexual liberation. The inclusion of evolution in school curriculums was (and still is) a major issue, highlighting these differences.
  • Xenophobia: World War I led to nationalist tendencies and xenophobia, highlighted by the rise of the KKK, an organization that carried out hate crimes against immigrants and minorities.
  • Modernity: Liberal thoughts and practices spread throughout the country, through music, movies, theater, etc. and once-prohibited or restricted items/life styles/practices became more acceptable.
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