Social, Economic, and Political Changes in the 1920s in the U.S.

Subject: American History
Type: Exploratory Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 573

America is known for her affinity for change. Sometimes subtle, other times chaotic, but always determined and driven, unwilling to stop, no matter the circumstances. The 1920s are known for their radical and volatile nature. This paper’s goal is to illustrate most of the economic, social, and political changes, that took place in the U.S., during that period of time, and there were a lot of them, with many being revolutionary to the whole image of the nation’s identity and further development.

Social Changes

This topic is rather unstable in nature. It contains a lot of controversy, uncertainty and enmity, because it is mainly based off the cultural clash, that occurred in the 1920s. The people of color started massively migrating to the West, in search of opportunity, recognition, and success. This lead to merging of cultures, that, in turn, made way for the introduction of jazz to the American society (Goldfield, 2004), bringing fast, random, energetic and vibrant genre as a part of cultural exchange, that played a major role in forming contemporary Americans’ lives. This overflow of immigrants did not go unnoticed. The infamous Ku Klux Klan took aggressive stance, promoting violence and hatred towards foreigners (Goldfield, 2004), but this attempt to halt the change, proved futile, and people soon found themselves preoccupied with sex, luxury, carelessness and loft, embracing swiftness, with which their civilization moved forward, with voracious eagerness. Individualism also assumed a strong position in their mentality, bringing the country closer to its current state. However, there were also religious fundamentalists, who feared progress, and its increasingly scientific bent, which brought new and dangerous ideas, that were unsettling to traditionalistic Catholics (Goldfield, 2004). 

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Economic Changes

This period of time is considered to be among the richest and most prosperous in the entirety of the American history. After the World War I, the U.S. felt stronger, than ever before, capitalizing on the opportunities, that Europe’s serious post-war economic issues brought (Drive, 2012). Prioritizing global urbanization over development of rural areas, introduced a comfortable niche to the American society, allowing it several years of stability and a relatively high quality of life for most of the population, excluding the working class, immigrants, and those, who worked in unprofitable areas, such as agriculture (Drive, 2012). Henry Ford was also a prominent businessman at the time. He knew how to properly promote his automobile, by making it desirable, romantic, and, most importantly, affordable. His business principles became motto for every company on the continent, playing a major role in establishing consumerism as a predominant ideology among U.S. citizens (Goldfield, 2004), a trend, which continues to this day.

Political Changes

This was the age of the Republicans, in no small part due to the law, which allowed women to vote (Dumenil, 2007). They were not equal to men in terms of political rights, but still possessed much desired ability to turn the tide of any election with their sheer numbers, determination and unity, with which they promoted the women’s suffrage movement (Dumenil, 2007). There were also some problems with inefficient policies, like prohibition of alcohol, which was hurtful to the economy, and ultimately useless, because it allowed criminals to make profit by smuggling the product, and, by doing that, to negate any positive changes that such ban could bring to the American society (Goldfield, 2004).

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  1. Drive, A. (2012). Contemporary Commentary on the 1920s: The “Age of Prosperity”.  National Humanities Center, 1-8
  2. Dumenil, L. (2007). The New Woman and the Politics of the 1920s. Organization of American Historians, 22-25
  3. Goldfield, D. (2004). The American Journey: A History of the United States. Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 07458, 628-649
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