Project #3498 - Discussion Question

PLEASE NO PLAGIARIZED WORK! 

 

250 Words min.  

I am impressed with the fact that so many people have already talked about the 'Roaring Twenties' in various parts of our course webspace. Since our Discussion Questions and Individual Assignments may not necessarily produce a collective dialogue on this decade in our Main Forum, I thought it might be nice to open a thread on this subject.

 

Several of us have already discussed the significance of new technology, invention, innovation and systematic production during the this particular period. During the 1920's, Americans seemed to approach the challenges before them in wonderfully creative and incredibly practical fashion. From the proliferation of the automobile, to the revolution in communications, to the enhancement of transportation and the rise of cities; to the increasing use of electricity and new and improved methods of sanitation and irrigation, America seemed to leap ahead during the 1920's. 

 

The rise of new technology and systematic production also had an impact on the collective consciousness and mentality of Americans. Indeed, the age of modernity, some have said, was largely a cultural phenomenon. Broadly speaking, how can we understand the "modern man (and woman!)" of the 1920's? 

 

Many observers suggest that the 'modern man' believed strongly in progress, had faith in the future, and trusted science to improve the human condition. The 'modern man' believed in the existence of absolute, objective truths, and confidently expected the new scientist, with his infallible, rational logic, to uncover the wisdom that would solve human problems. It was a positive, optimistic, confident age. Think of the architectural spirit behind the skyscraper; upwards and onwards! The heavens are the limit. 

 

Indeed, people believed the inexorable march of science would solve human problems and greatly improve the human condition. Why was Charles Lindbergh the world's most famous American in 1927? Because his fantastic trans-Atlantic flight provided undeniable evidence that science could and would serve humankind and improve our lives. Others have said that the carefree, frivolous, playful and indulgent mentalities of the 1920's helped lead to the Great Depression. In this view, too many people borrowed more than necessary, gambled recklessly with their finances, and tried to live beyond their means. Some people think that after a couple of grueling generations of intensive labor and a shocking World War, Americans were mainly interested in having fun during the 1920's.

 

What do you make of all this? How can we reconcile this view of a rather serious, intense, and driven collective mindset with the images of laughter, inhibition and pleasure often revealed during the 1920's? 

 

Historians have compared the 1920's to the 1960's, in that both decades featured tremendous changes in the social and cultural fabric of society, while the simultaneous impact of technological innovation seemed unprecedented (think of the famous 'Woodstock Concert' unfolding during the same summer in which America landed a man on the moon). But other historians have suggested that the "roar" of the 'Roaring 20's' is actually overrated. This type of view generally stresses some of the political conservativism which emerged during the 1920's. Remember, many Americans felt that in a post-war world, it was important to return to isolationism, forget about the international order, and concentrate on getting our own country in order. There was also a substantial movement to get back to the days "when men were men and women were women," and to re-establish and re-consolidate family life as it had been understood in previous generations. Does anybody have any thoughts on these issues? 

 

It is also crucial to realize that the 1920's represented the decade when the advertising industry really came into its own. As we have seen in the thread dedicated to Advertising, Mass Society, and Consumer Culture, the quest to sell products, goods, and service had been an important aspect of marketing for many years, but during the third decade of the 20h century, advertising took off. The American economy had just crossed the crucial line where economic production and development had transformed from its tradition challenge of producing enough, to the new reality of producing too much. The modern "age of surplus" featured an economy where more goods and services than necessary were being routinely produced. That meant that consumers had choices. For the first time in history, the American consumer had to be persuaded to purchase certain goods and luxuries. "In the past, wish, want, and desire were the motive forces of economic progress," declared former President Herbert Hoover while addressing a group of advertising executives. "Now you have taken over the job of creating desire." Bruce Barton, an important advertising executive, remarked, "Advertising is the spark plug on the cylinder of mass production .  .  .  .  .  . Advertising sustains a system that had made us leaders of the free world: The American Way of Life." 1

 

But the new significance of the  advertising industry, and all its implications, was only one component of a very interesting decade. What should we remember most about the 1920's?  What do you find most interesting about the third decade of the 20th century?

 

Thanks for reading!

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Due By (Pacific Time) 03/22/2013 01:00 pm
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