Counterculture - Research Paper

3195 Words Dec 24th, 2012 13 Pages
Counterculture of the Sixties in the USA
Causes and Effects

by Johanna K. Weisz

Preface
If the Sixties was the decade of rebellion in America, the preceding two post-WWII decades were characterized by social conformity and trust in the system. “In that era of general good will and expanding affluence, few Americans doubted the essential goodness of their society” (Haberstam 10).
However, this trust in the system changed radically in the Sixties. Many of the numerous youth born during the post-WWII baby boom became teenagers who questioned the cultural values of their parents and refused to assimilate into the established social and moral system. They created their own counterculture that was in opposition to the established
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Technical appliances were more and more common in almost all households. “By 1960 there were 440 commercial VHF stations, 75 UHF stations, and 85 % of U.S. households had a television set” (Golden Age, 1930’s through 1950’s). The young generation had grown up with commercials and had money to buy material goods, many of them disposable, as expressed in a Bethlehem Steel advertisement from 1963:
Why do major airlines serve soft drinks in cans? For the very same reason you’ll switch someday soon…convenience. Cans take less space…easier to store. Cans weight less…easier to carry. They chill faster. Rugged, too. And no deposits, no returns! Convinced? Pick up a dozen of your favourite soft drinks…in convenient cans. (Heimann n.p.).
Criticism of consumer society and environmental concerns contributed to the rise of the counterculture. The New York poet Diane di Prima describes her fears of “widespread ecological destruction” (Charters 559) in her poem “Revolutionary Letter #16”, written in the late 1960s. The following extract illustrates that the young generation’s environmental concerns were part of the counterculture in the Sixties:
[…] every large factory is an infringement of our god-given right to light and air to clean and flowing rivers stocked with fish to the very possibility of life […] (Charters 559)
Young people were longing and searching for an alternative life-style that was

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