What were the benefits and costs of consumerism, and how did people deal with the challenges to old-time values?

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In the 1920s, many consumer goods became widely available for the first time, including radios, cars, refrigerators, and other goods. These goods quickly permeated American society, and they were deemed necessary by many Americans. People often purchased them on an installment plan, meaning that they would pay for them over time. Even though people were making new purchases, their purchasing power was not significantly elevated. In the 1920s, most of the new wealth went to the very top of society, and eventually, people's income did not support this type of purchasing. The benefits of consumerism were that it brought new conveniences to people and broadened their horizons (for example, the car allowed them to travel further distances). At the same time, they were hard pressed to afford these new goods and felt lacking if they couldn't afford them.

In addition, the 1920s was a time in which traditional values changed, particularly in urban areas. Women, who recently received the right to vote, were freer than ever before, though there were still limits on them. In rural areas, people tended to cling to more traditional values, including religious beliefs, and there was a rift between the newer values and the more traditional values. As a reaction to the newer values, some people became even more traditional, as evidenced by the Scopes Monkey Trial in which a teacher was accused of teaching Darwinism instead of creationism and was put on trial in Tennessee.

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