How was American life in the 1980s different from American life in 1946?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Life in the United States in 1946 differed from life in the 1980s in innumerable ways.  It was different in material terms and in social terms.  Let us look at a few major differences.

  • Material standards of living.  In 1946, people did not typically have TVs.  They did not have multiple cars per family.  Many did not have air conditioning or dishwashers or multiple bathrooms in a single home.  By the 1980s, all of these things were very common as were other things like stereos and VCRs and video games.  People simply lived much more luxurious lives in the 1980s than in 1946.
  • Where people lived.  In 1946, America was still very urban.  By the 1980s, America was a much more suburban place.  Most people lived in single-family homes in suburbs rather than in apartments in inner cities.
  • Race and sex.  By the 1980s, there was much less overt racism and sexism in society.  African Americans had the right to vote.  Women were increasingly found in important jobs and in positions of power.
  • Social attitudes.  In 1946, the US was still very traditional.  Most people married and did not get divorced.  There was much less tolerance of sex outside of marriage.  By the 1980s, values had relaxed tremendously, for good or for bad.

In all these ways and more, the US in the 1980s was a very different place than the US right after WWII.