To what extent did Fundamentalism reflect the issues facing American society after the First World War (1920's)?
This is the title of my latest history essay, usually I'm okay with them but for some reason I'm struggling to get to grips with this one. I think the word 'reflect' threw me a little bit. Some of the occurrences at that time (that were perceived as problems) I thought about were:
The levels of racism, movement of back people to the cities, the struggling agriculture sector, challenges to the bible (evolution), the immoral behaviour of women (flappers), huge industrial development and the surge in consumerism.
Any help in steering me in the right direction would be greatly appreciated,
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Nice, thoughtful question. I like it when students put some thought into the question and then ask rather than just saying "I don't get it."
Of the issues that you've identified here, I would say that the flappers, evolution, and consumerism were ones that were reflected in fundamentalism. I would also say that you could add the general idea of people centering their lives around fun (movies, illegal drinking, jazz) was also a perceived problem that ended up being reflected in fundamentalism. So was the impact of fairly large-scale immigration. What all of these things have in common is that they were major changes in American society. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were few labor saving devices so people had to center their lives around work. Even if they had had time, there were few types of entertainment.
So, when technological changes brought more leisure time and things to do, it was a major change. This change helped to bring about changes in morality. Accompanying those were things like the increased immigration and the rise of evolution.
Fundamentalism reflects these things because it was a reaction to them or a backlash against them. Fundamentalism is about tradition and holding on to the old ways (which you would call the proven ways if you liked them). Therefore, fundamentalism is a reflection of a time when there is a lot of change.
So, fundamentalism reflected the issues of those times in a very important way. The issues were centered around change and fundamentalism was a reaction to that change.
Thanks, you've given me a brilliant starting point- I agree with the key points being centred around the flappers, evolution, and consumerism and the additional point of people's lives beginning to be centred around enjoyment and fun has also given me another area to develop. I feel a lot more at ease with the main focus of the essay and have an idea how I'm going to structure it now, your reply has been a great help, so thanks again :-)
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