Consumer Culture In The 1920's

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In the 1920’s, America reached its highest standard of living. American citizens were making more money, working less, spending more time on leisure activities, and buying expensive items, such as cars. A middle class America was developing, suburbs were constructed, and the new workweek was shortened to five days a week. Despite this boom of prosperity, the changes in America from 1920 to 1945 were primarily detrimental. The United States began the 20th century on excess, but this excess eventually overflowed and left America high and dry. The sudden boom of modernization led to a revolt against modernity, the overzealous prohibition movement caused more problems than it solved, and the precipitous rise of consumer culture led to the stock…show more content…
During the 1920’s, the United States experienced disaccumulation, meaning that there was too much supply and not enough demand. To combat this, excessive advertising techniques were used. The economy began focusing more on a consumer idea, and the fact that it’s consumption that’s driving the company. Consumption needed to be expanded, and the way to do that was through marginal differentiation. Products were set apart from other brands through differences in packaging and appearance. The goal of advertisements was to make the product look glamorous, and ultimately the extreme tactics worked a little too well. Businesses began doing well, and many assumed that because businesses were thriving that the stock market was thriving as well. This assumption was flawed, as the stock market wasn’t an actual reflection of success. The demand for stock became so great that the prices went up, but the value of the companies didn’t actually increase. The true effect that the consumer culture had on Americans during this period is evidenced through a line in a popular song during the time period, “they used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob” (Song of the Depression: “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?, 230). The new, strong consumer culture that was created caused people to buy stock on credit, but eventually people stopped paying the inflated prices. This was detrimental as the market became flooded with unwanted stock, causing stock prices to drop and a widespread panic. The new consumer culture is what led to 16.5 million shares being sold in one day, which was detrimental to the stock market as it caused the crash on October 29, 1929. Many lost a great deal of money, marking the start of the Great Depression. The excessive consumer culture also led to a vast majority of prosperity going towards the industrial economy instead of the
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