Free «American Life in the 1920s and 1930s» Essay
American life in the 1920s and 1930s represented a unique mixture of political, social and economic factors which determined the course of life and values of people. The generation of 1920s – 1930s was a complex one that embodied traditions, social and personal values of people. The main political factors involved 18th Amendment, the Volstead Act and Woman’s Organization for Prohibition Reform. These laws were closely connected with historical and economic development of America, its liberation movement and economic changes. Explaining the political factors, it is possible to single out social, personal and economic dimensions determined by new social relations. Taking into account economic perspectives of 1890s, the jazz generation means opportunities for everyone to become rich and prosperous in spite of his background and origin. From the very beginning of American colonization period people see the continent as a special place where there is plenty of opportunity for someone to become wealthy. Today, it is possible to define the jazz generation from different perspectives, but in general: the American dream is the idea that through persistence, hard work and self-determination people can achieve prosperity and high social status. This notion has created workaholic cults based on principles of the beat generation. Radio stations and Vaudeville theater changed the life of an ordinary citizen. The popularity of Louis Armstrong, flappers, speakeasies and dancing created new era of music. The period known as Harlem Renaissance had a great impact on the workaholic cult and customer wants (Gioia, 1999). This process which took place in 1930s resulted in the development of the creative sector as an integral part of the American dream. Educational establishments were places where human creativity was cultivated and could flourish. Most of them had tried to achieve social mobility but failed limited by gender and racial prejudices, lack of education and financial support. The main authors who represent the generation were Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein. The main themes and strategies followed by these authors were taken from social and economic relations of the period. Free-market capitalism supported (supports) a financial burden of struggling propositions (Parrish, 1994).
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Wealth creation led to emergence of the organized crime groups headed by personas like Al Capone. On the one hand, economic development led to increased possibilities of education and the opening up of a greater variety of life chances, but these chances were minor in contrast to high class opportunities (Parrish, 1994). Also, rapid population growth of poor classes increased burden on the financial resources and social provisions reducing buying potential of a particular individual from poor regions. The ideas of prosperity enslaved many Americans who tried to test the American dream and achieve higher social status. The Model T developed by Henry Ford changed the life forever. The Model T marked a new era in cultural life and led to mobility and self-identity. The Model T created many important issues related to freedom of choice and limits of this freedom. The young people were looking for adventures and trying to examine the true nature of the American dream. Another important detail was “the road culture” and car culture which were the core of the American dream and the remarkable feature of the “jazz generation” (Gioia, 1999).
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The new generation was a unique movement which influenced both cultural and social life of people. Social and economic uncertainty created new tensions while reinforcing existing ones. The basic principle of this process was that in social process systems, prosperity was interrelated with the human or social aspects. The basic social and economic processes such as competition, conflict, accommodation and assimilation led to debts and financial pressure. The young people valued technology and innovations. The great layer of information and varieties of technology become available now.