To what extent did the 1960’s proclaim a period

To what extent did the 1960’s proclaim a period of societal alteration? Discuss with mention between the two genders.

“In the societal history of 20th century Britain the Second World War stands out as a water parting ; the sheer graduated table and magnitude of the events that took topographic point during those important six old ages seems to impart incontestable credibleness to the position that modern wars are a major force behind progressive societal change.” [ 1 ]

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After two major worldwide struggles within hardly two coevalss, the populations of Europe and North America were by 1945 wholly exhausted and decimated by decennaries of industrial graduated table combat. Economically belly-up, culturally downbeat and politically diffident, the re-building attempt after the surcease of belligerencies to World War Two would be entirely unlike any other Reconstruction procedure in modern history. Above all else, the war had proved beyond uncertainty that the epoch of laterality of the imperialistic white European male was at an terminal. As a consequence, states such as the United Kingdom would be progressively reliant on workers that hailed from a different race, category, ethnicity, faith and gender than earlier. This Reconstruction of the national economic system and domestic political setup should be viewed as the indispensable precursor to what is by and large acknowledged as the most radical decennary in 20th century history, a clip frame that used progressive societal alteration as a agency to radically change about every aspect of day-to-day life. As cultural observer Arthur Marwick has claimed in relation to the 1960’s ; “there has been nil rather like it of all time since ; nil would of all time be the same again.” [ 2 ]

Chief amongst these disruptive sociological displacements was the new function and position ascribed to adult females in the West although it should be noted that their cultural, economic and political emancipation ought to be interpreted as portion of a broader integrating of the historically foreigner groups into mainstream society. Race, left flying political orientation and feminism should wholly be viewed as portion of the same thrust to re-conceptualise modern western society along discernibly libertarian lines. Therefore, for the intent of position, the undermentioned scrutiny into the period of unprecedented societal alteration ushered in via the 1960ss must concentrate non merely on the gender revolution that took topographic point at this clip ; the survey must besides have the relevant battles associating to race, popular civilization, category, gender, political political orientation, demographics and media in order to build a more accurate portraiture of the deep sitting nature of societal alteration at this clip. Although the essay will concentrate largely on British societal history analysis must besides integrate other progressive states across the western universe so as to build a more accurate image of the nature of this societal alteration. A decision will be sought that efforts to turn out that the 1960’s was so an utterly alone period in universe history – one that has paradoxically stalled since its origin, lighting a hectic re-evaluation of the societal forces that were unleashed at this clip.

Feminism could ne’er hold occurred without a cardinal displacement to the left in the domestic political political orientation. This, when one considers the ideological nature of the Cold War, was non an easy option in the old ages that instantly followed the Second World War. However, the fact that the British populace in peculiar were willing to seek to follow a new political way was verified with the triumph of the Atlee led Labour Party in 1946. By voting out the national hero but besides conservative and reactionist Winston Churchill the electorate had inadvertently telegraphed a major alteration of way for British society that would happen itself to the full in the 1960’s. It is critical precursor to the coming of feminist philosophy. The societal historian must remember the ideological nature of the women’s motion in the West during the 1960ss, which forged near, intrinsic ties with Marxist and Socialist political visions. Without this popular left-of-center tilling of the political landscape, the progresss that would be made by feminism could non hold taken topographic point.

“Historically the demands for women’s emancipation ab initio emerged within the bourgeois feminist motion, which had greater fiscal and cultural resources. However, it was merely when these demands were taken up by working category adult females did they presume the necessary strength to accomplish of import victories.” [ 3 ]

This political alteration of way witnessed in Britain at the start of the 1960ss was accompanied by a extremist realignment of the country’s ethnicity, chiefly due to worker deficits in cardinal public services such as London Transport, British Rail and the National Health Service. An unprecedented period of in-migration therefore ensued, seting the seeds of today’s multicultural manifestation of the UK. “Immigration of inkinesss and Asians was running at about 14000 per annum in the 1950’s, but in 1961 there was a big rise.” [ 4 ] However, this inflow of immigrants, largely from the Commonwealth, did non come about without significant resistance from the reactionist forces that had traditionally controlled the upper echelons of political power. As a consequence, Britain’s non?whites felt marginalised and allied to the political left, triggered by the cumulative success of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA. With the add-on of the ‘first wave’ of the feminist motion at that place existed for the first clip a ample, enfranchised minority of the electorate who were interested in leveling the societal position quo. It is an of import point and one that should be borne in head throughout the continuance of the treatment: without the alliance of the racial and political foreigners in western society feminism would ne’er hold been able to accomplish every bit much as it did in such a little infinite of clip.

With the cardinal edifice blocks of the gender revolution set in topographic point the ‘first wave’ of feminism took root at the start of the 1960’s with calls in the first case for equality within matrimonies ( and divorces ) and equality for instruction and employment. As a direct consequence, divorced adult females were henceforth permitted such autonomies that had antecedently been denied to them such as the right to hold a telephone connexion in their ain, single name – a freedom that appears about pathetic in today’s sexually classless society. Indeed, it is the 1960’s that is the point in history which heralded the de-stigmatisation of divorce as a agency of stoping matrimony between hubby and married woman. [ 5 ] Furthermore, as Jennifer Mather Saul argues, the alteration in familial Torahs helped to re?align the domestic construction of the place in a discernibly less male dominated mode. “The construction of the household has tremendous effects on one’s chances in life. We have seen that traditional household construction plays a important portion in impoverishing women.” [ 6 ]

Of even greater cultural significance was the alteration that was besides taking topographic point in popular civilization, which presented adult females with the opportunity to reallyindustrycultural consensus as opposed to simply following the dominant tendency. Until the 1960ss the most popular and recognizable people in society had historically been upper category males who represented a mirror image of the same white upper category center aged work forces who had dictated political policy at the determination doing degree since the Middle Ages. However, the outgrowth of The Beatles in 1963 signalled a lasting displacement in this cultural position quo with the iconic position antecedently afforded to politicians henceforth being ascribed to immature histrions, instrumentalists, theoretical accounts and popular entertainers – both maleandfemale. After the 1960’s, popular civilization would ne’er be the same once more ; instead, henceforth it would be the symbol of youth civilization. Furthermore, the coming of this new sort of iconic popular civilization meant the first accurate representation of both race and gender in the national consciousness. This was a elusive but important alteration in the manner that adult females of all colorss and credos were able to comprehendthemselvesas independent cultural entities. “Biology determines whether we are male or female ; civilization determines what it means to be male or female, and what kinds of behaviors or properties are appropriate for each gender role.” [ 7 ] The popularity of female stars such as Tina Turner, Janis Joplin and Twiggy highlighted the displacement that had taken topographic point in mainstream society. Likewise on-screen, adult females were able to pull upon the historical experience of subjugation to hammer an of import confederation with the purposes and establishments of the Civil Rights Movement. “Many women’s rightists built their analysis of sexism on old apprehensions of racism, a move that recalled the earlier correspondence between the first?wave women’s rightist review of paternalism and the abolitionist review of slavery.” [ 8 ] Once once more, the nexus between feminism and the thrust for racial equality was the key to the success of both motions.

This release of the feminine in all facets of popular civilization was assisted by the sexual revolution that followed the coming of the birth control pill in the first half of the decennary. Since the 19th century adult females had dreamed of the chance to pattern ‘voluntary motherhood’ and the effects of ‘the pill’ on society in the 1960’s should non be underestimated. “Birth control – single pick, safe preventive methods, every bit good as abortions when necessary – is a cardinal requirement for the emancipation of adult females. Since the right of birth control is evidently advantageous to adult females of all categories and races, it would look that even immensely dissimilar women’s groups would hold attempted to unify around this time.” [ 9 ] By taking away the lottery of the reverberations of sexual intercourse, the pill brought away two of import developments for ( preponderantly immature ) adult females in the 1960ss. First, the societal scene of Britain was radically altered whereby females were much more inclined to flash their gender, freed from the bonds of maternity that had entrapped their parents. “The desire of immature adult females to take lives different from those of their female parents constituted an unprecedented alteration in popular female consciousness.” [ 10 ] As a consequence, mini skirts, boots and showy hairdos replaced the conservative frock championed by adult females in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Second, the delaying in the starting of households needfully altered the employment chances for adult females who were now able to give their mid-twentiess, mid-thirtiess and even mid-fortiess to the promotion of their callings. Indeed, so free were adult females with respects to deliver control they could even take to worsen maternity wholly without being called ‘spinsters’ as had antecedently been the instance. It should, nevertheless, be noted that the huge societal and sexual alterations brought approximately by the pill were non unfastened to all adult females in the 1960’s. Roman Catholic adult females, for case, were sacredly out to take the pill and adult females who lived in the more economically deprived countries of England continued to be given to get down households at a immature age due chiefly to the deficiency of occupation chances and the outgrowth of the public assistance province after 1947. However, finally, birth control should be seen as the most of import scientific development in the full annals of women’s history.

Of class, the freedom heralded via the pill would hold achieved small by manner of the economic emancipation of adult females were it non for the being of a domestic occupation market that was sing the first ample roar since the oncoming of the Great Depression in 1929. “Between 1951 and 1973 the British economic system, in footings of Gross Domestic Product, grew at a rate of 2.8 % per annum, a 3rd higher than in the inter?war period and dual that of the pre?1914 rate.” [ 11 ] Women of all races, colorss and credos were able to capitalize on this extremely favorable financial clime puting the tone for the more aggressive version of feminism that arrived in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It is a important point in the emancipation of adult females in the 1960ss and one that is frequently overlooked when it comes to explicating the deficiency of gender patterned advance in the underdeveloped universe.

It has been shown how, politically, sexually, racially, culturally and economically, the 1960ss was so a genuinely progressive decennary. The 1960ss besides presided over the de?criminalisation of homosexualism, which is likewise an frequently unmarked societal alteration that beset the West at this clip and encouraged homosexuals adult females to ‘come out’ in the same manner as their male opposite numbers. Yet it should besides be noted that there would hold been significant and in some instances unsurmountable obstructions to the greater freedom afforded to any of these foreigner groups were it non for the being of a communications system that was able to convey the dominant new libertarian mawkishness to the less educated sectors of society. Therefore, the victory of the modern media and – in peculiar – the telecasting must be acknowledged within the broader argument refering the alteration in sexual and gender attitudes in the 1960’s.

“Television was invented as a consequence of scientific and proficient research. Its power as a medium of societal communicating was so so great that it altered many of our establishments and signifiers of societal relationships. Its built-in belongingss as an electronic medium altered our basic perceptual experiences of world, and thence our dealingss with each other and with the world.” [ 12 ]

It is hard for the historian authorship at the morning of the 20 first century to to the full admit the outrageousness of the societal alteration that telecasting signalled for 1960’s Britain. During the class of the decennary the telecasting set was transported into about every in-between category family and a great many working category families excessively. Furthermore, the deficiency of assortment that characterises the modern-day media meant that stars of telecasting in the 1960ss rapidly became household names. Of all the female stars that influenced how immature adult females could utilize their feminine gender to their advantage none was more outstanding and powerful than the character of Emma Peel ( played by Dianna Rigg ) on TV’sThe Avengers. By partner offing the broad immature heroine alongside the Bowler hat?clad lead male portion of David Keel ( played by Ian Hendry ) , the show inadvertently touched upon the meeting of the new female individualism with the old order of pre?war society. As Ann Shearer attests, this was portion of a much broader tapestry of woman’s new found sexual freedom. “Images were everyplace of adult female as organic structure as in Britain the old order collapsed into the new permissiveness.” [ 13 ] This iconic position was intensely emancipating for adult females and – more significantly – the image was accessible to the bulk of females who were populating in the UK during the 2nd half of the 1960’s. ‘Swinging London’ was the most celebrated manifestation of this media-inspired release and it is this desire to force the boundaries of freedom that, harmonizing to Sheila Rowbotham, has besides sewed the seeds of the more open manifestation of heterosexual female gender that is platitude in today’s post-modern media environment. [ 14 ]

Before trying a decision the downside to the societal alterations outlined above must be underscored. Not everybody was of the belief that the gender revolution was a sound move for feminism to take in the 1960’s. For case, statements have lawfully been raised with respects to the negative sexual residue left by the rise of the female popular civilization icon. ‘Second wave’ women’s rightists of the 1970’s were peculiarly horrified with the manner that adult females had become little more than sex objects, portrayed in the media and in popular civilization as pagans ; sexual but non successful, reasonably but non powerful. Feminist militants such as Mary Daly, Germaine Greer and Susan Griffin interpreted this dynamic as: “a masculine signifier of discourse which maintains male laterality by co?opting adult females and stamp downing the feminine.” [ 15 ] Hard-line women’s rightists point to the widespread being of colza, erotica and sexual torment as the existent footings effects of woman’s arrested development with her organic structure, something that was by and large unheard of until the 1960’s. This is countered by outstanding modern-day adult females such as Natasha Walter who claims that the release of adult females in the 1960ss was so a entirely positive phenomenon.

“Feminists often write as if women’s relation to their organic structures is constantly anguished and full of self?loathing. But this is non the lone, or even the chief truth about that relation. If you watch adult females in stores, keeping dresses up to their organic structures and woolgathering in the mirrors ; if you watch them reading manner magazines… you know there is a existent, fresh, happy sensualness about women’s feeling for self-decoration that can ne’er be expunged.” [ 16 ]

Regardless of the truth of the claims for and against the freedom with which adult females in the West today act, there can be no denying the significance of the societal alterations that occurred in the 1960’s that paved the manner for this statement to take topographic point. It is merely when one considers the predicament of adult females in the underdeveloped universe that the additions made during this decennary go to the full evident.


The societal alteration brought approximately by the 1960’s is best understood by analyzing the position quo at the start of the decennary and comparing it to the world at the terminal. Peace motions, pupil protests, youth orientated popular civilization, ‘Swinging London’ and civil rights were all unfathomable at the beginning of the 1960ss ; likewise the outstanding function that adult females played in each of these of import cultural developments. In 1960 adult females were denied equality within matrimony, instruction and the workplace and denied the right of voluntary maternity. By 1969 each of these unfairnesss had been either wholly or partly overturned with extra additions made in important sociological domains such as the media, popular civilization and political relations.

Yet the bounds of the societal alterations witnessed during the 1960’s must besides be underlined. Legislation was slow to come about with respects to official equality in the workplace ; adult females had to wait until 1975 before the reaching of the Sexual Discriminations Act and female professionals still earn well less than their male opposite numbers. Above all, the 1960ss ended up go forthing more inquiries than replies for the nascent women’s motion.

“Disagreements developed every bit fast as the motion itself grew. Be the purpose to make all adult females or declare lock-out among the liberated by dividing from those who remained contaminated by cosmetics and atomic households? Was the enemy capitalist economy or was it work forces? Were the beginnings of subjugation societal or psychological? And one time the personal was political – what did you make about it? ” [ 17 ]


Craig, S. ( Ed. ) ( 1992 )Work force, Masculinity and the MediaLondon: Sage

Davis, A.Y. ( 2001 )Womans, Race and ClassLondon: Women’s Press Classics

Ferris, P. ( 1993 )Sexual activity and the British: a Twentieth Century HistoryLondon: Michael Joseph

Glynn, S. and Booth, A. ( 1996 )Modern Britain: an Economic and Social HistoryLondon: Routledge

Jackson, S. and Scott, S. ( Eds. ) ( 1996 )Feminism and Sex: A ReaderEdinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

Johnson, P. ( Ed. ) ( 1994 )Twentieth Century Britain: Economic, Social and Cultural ChangeLondon: Longman

Marwick, A. ( 1998 )The Sixties: Cultural Transformation in Britain, France, Italy and the United States, 1958?1974Oxford: Oxford University Press

Mitter, S. ( 1986 )Common Fate, Common Bond: Womans in the Global EconomyLondon: Pluto

Murphy, D.Britain 1914?2000London: Harper Collins

Narayan, U. ( 1997 )Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions and Third World FeminismLondon and New York: Routledge

Robertson Elliot, F. ( 1986 )The Family: Change or Continuity?London: Macmillan

Rowbotham, S. ( 1997 )A Century of Women: the History of Women in Britain and the United StatesLondon and New York: Viking

Saul, J.M. ( 2003 )Feminism: Issues and ArgumentsOxford: Oxford University Press

Shearer, A. ( 1987 )Woman: Her Changing Image – a Kaleidoscope of Five DecadesWellingborough: Thorson’s

Smith, H.L. ( Ed. ) ( 1986 )War and Social Change: British Society in the Second World WarManchester: Manchester University Press

Stacey, M. and Price, M. ( 1981 )Womans, Power and PoliticssLondon: Tavistock

Stam, R. ( 2000 )Film Theory: an IntroductionOxford: Blackwell

Walter, N. ( 1998 )The New FeminismLondon: Small Brown

Weedon, C. ( 1987 )Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist TheoryOxford: Blackwell

Williams, R. ( 2003 )TelevisionLondon and New York: Routledge

Selected Articles

Macnicol, J. ( 1986 )The Effect of the Evacuation of Schoolchildren on Official Attitudes of State Intervention, in, Smith, H.L. ( Ed. ) ,War and Social Change: British Society in the Second World WarManchester: Manchester University Press

Street, L. ( 1992 )Beer Commercials: A Manual on Masculinity, in, Craig, S. ( Ed. ) ,Work force, Masculinity and the MediaLondon: Sage

Walcowitz, J. ( 1996 )The Politics of Prostitution, in, Jackson, S. and Scott, S. ( Eds. )Feminism and Sex: A ReaderEdinburgh: Edinburgh University Press

Web sites

Rossi, E. ( 2002 )The Emancipation of Women, in, Marxist Magazine Website ; hypertext transfer protocol: //

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