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1950's Conformity Project

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by

Christine Collins

on 3 May 2011

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Transcript of 1950's Conformity Project

The 1950's
Conformity or
Individuality? The 1950's are known for the
Upsurge of Consumerism, the
birth of the American car
culture, and the rise of
suburbia.
Americans in the decade of the 1950s
are often called "the silent generation" as
having lived through two world wars and the depression, they were quick to accept peace and
enjoy being consumers. They craved "Normalcy" Pepsi ad from April 1956 issue of Saturday Evening Post (Source: Ikuta 35)
Jantzen ad from August 1951 issue of Life (Source: Ikuta 75) Permalift ad from 1957, publication unknown (Source: Heimann 2007) The post war climate created
an emphasis on conformity
in the fashion industry in the
1950's. From ad to ad the country placed an emphasis on being slender. "everything you wanted" following the poverty of the depression, Dad, Mom and the two kids all live happily together in the suburbs. Dad goes out to work and Mom stays at home to look after the children. That was the publically accepted norm in the 1950s and you wouldn’t find any ads pitched at single mothers or divorced dads. By the end of the fifties most American households owned their own car, washing machine and at least one television set. According to advertisements you had to have a brand-new washing machine to keep all those new clothes clean and the latest, gigantic fridge so all the food they’d persuaded you to buy wouldn’t go bad. There was a need to "keep up with the Joneses", and the American people began to work harder so they could afford fancy gadgets. This superficial belief in the power
of material possessions is seen in the
book Death of a Salesman, in which the main
character Willy, believes whole heartedly
that a “well liked” and “personally
attractive” man in business will
indubitably and deservedly acquire
the material comforts offered by modern
American life
Cars were another essential element of
achieving "The American Dream". While in suburbia there was a great deal of conformity amoung the majority of Americans, there were still traces of rebellion against society seen through rock and roll, "the beats", youth revolts, and civil rights movements. However, even these movements of "rebellion from society" showed conformity. Teenagers in the 1950's wanted to be alike yet different at the same time. This is seen through
rock and roll, which stepped
out of the boundary of society as
dictated by parents yet still gave teenagers a feeling of acceptance amoung their peers. However, depite these small attempts at individuality,
conformity during the 1950s was extremely apparent by looking at the advertising industry. Conformity in women: pressures to get married, bear many children, and stay home and raise a happy and healthy family in suburbia. Domesticity was idealized and women who chose to work when they didnt need a paycheck were considered selfish, putting themselves before their families.
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