How Did The 1920s Contribute To The Transformation Of American Society

1696 Words7 Pages

Although the “Roaring Twenties” began with a whimper rather than a bang, this era was a time of profound change. Economic expansion facilitated a myriad of new products, entertainment, and technology. Societal and familial responsibilities changed, much of it due to the consumerist culture. Although the new consumerism of the 1920’s transformed the American society and economy largely positively in the form of new products and lifestyles, and changes in financial arrangements, agricultural and banking consumerism had mostly negative effects on them. During and after WWI, the US rose to become the greatest economic power in the world, producing much of the world’s coal, petroleum, and pig iron (Norton et al. 673). However, the 1920’s began with …show more content…

Employment in road construction increased, and the oil refinery industry became large and powerful. The automobile, as a staple of 1920’s consumerism, was a greatly positive impact on both the society and economy. The radio was another product that positively transformed American society. In Document D, a writer describes the wide variety of programs available on the radio. Hansen, the writer, compares the radio to “a sort of national rallying cry in America”: its programs were free, and you could listen to “symphonic music”, “sermons and exhortations”, and “speeches”, among other programs. By the end of the 20’s, over 10 million families owned radios, and networks of stations were being built by the National Broadcasting Company. Programs consisted mainly of entertainment advertisements, and some stations broadcasted results of presidential elections and other issues. As a result, many ideas were able to reach more Americans across class and ethnic lines than before. The radio, as a major product of the consumerism in the 1920’s, helped create a more homogeneous, harmonic American culture, and injected money into the economy, transforming American society and economy positively. As these new products were created, so were …show more content…

As shown by the political cartoon in Document F, agriculture was an area of the American economy that floundered during the 1920’s. From the point of view of someone likely sympathetic to “the farmer’s predicament”, the cartoon shows a farmer, symbolizing the “agricultural west” struggling to hang on to his roof without his ladder, symbolizing the “high cost of living” and plunging “farm prices” that many farmers faced. The “industrial east”, symbolized by the dismissive mother and boy, doesn’t seem very supportive of the average farmer. Here, consumerism in the agricultural sector caused the economy there to weaken. American farmers were forced into competition with farmers in other countries. They tried to increase productivity by buying machines like tractors. One unintended consequence was that this mechanization became too efficient, so that fewer farmers were required. Crop supplies soared, and prices dropped. For example, cotton prices dropped by two thirds, and cattle prices by half. Small farmers became increasingly in debt as they were pushed off their land and big agribusiness dominated. In this case, consumerism in the agricultural sector (buying forms of mechanization) transformed this part of the economy negatively. Like agriculture, banks didn’t fare well either. Document G shows one author’s perspective on the cause of the Panic of 1929 due to the

Open Document