How did technology change American society in the 20th century?

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Technology, of course, covers a great variety of things that have had many different impacts on American society.  Let us look at three examples of technology that had huge impacts on American society in the 20th century.

  • The automobile.  In the 1910s and 1920s, and again beginning in the 1950s, automobiles changed the face of American society.  First, they ended the need for horses in American cities, changing the landscape dramatically.  They also made it possible for young people in particular to have more freedom to go places in cars and have privacy.  In the 1920s and again in the 1950s, cars changed the physical landscape of America.  Highways were built all over the country.  Motels and filling stations sprang up.  Suburban living became more possible.  These were major changes to American society.
  • Nuclear weapons.  Although no nuclear weapon was ever used against the US, the threat of nuclear war had a tremendous impact on American society in the Cold War era.  People lived with the threat of nuclear war always looming over them to some degree.  This changed politics (things like the McCarthy Era) and even popular entertainment.
  • Television.  This changed American society by moving entertainment back into the home.  Before TV, people had to go out to movies for their entertainment.  With the coming of TV, millions of people were able to watch the same shows at the same times, but from their own homes.  This simultaneously pulled society together (by giving people TV show “experiences” in common) and pulled it apart (by making people more likely to stay home and watch TV).

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