In America in 1920s there was a lot of tension that arose as a result of attitudinal and value change from nostalgic and old traditions to new and dynamic ones. It is in this period in the history of America that witnessed the emergence of new cultures while some obsolete ones were dropped. This is one of those great periods in the history of America that we cannot forget about. In this paper, I will basically try to bring out the changes that took place in terms of cultural change and the tension that arose.
During this 1920s period, America experienced cultural and behavioral as well as value change. For example, conflict historians who strongly believed that conflicts were the only thing that brought change in America. These historians tended to lay much emphasis on economic social as opposed to the intellectual conflicts in the history of America due to the influence they got from behavioral sciences like structural functional sociology though they were neither Marxists nor revolutionaries. Somehow this is what ushered in the culture of consumerism in America (Steele S., 1990)
It is during this time that radios, telephones and not forgetting motion pictures that mass culture that linked Americans together that emerged. In America people started becoming more religious. In fact the number of Catholics who believed in life after death increased to 85% across those people born from 1900-1970. This is why in the Tennessee’s evolution case of 1925 Mr. Bryan strongly defends the bible teachings. He believed that everything in the bible should be taken as it is though some things are given illustratively. For example the past that says that you are the salt of the earth, this does not mean that people are the actual salt that is used in cooking but it is used in the sense of good people helping others. (Doc.C) Scopes an old high school teacher who was alleged to have violated the law that banned the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution
In the negro-artist and the racial mountain, Hughes sees jazz music as an external expression of what is going on inside a Negro’s mind. That is the weariness in a white world pains, ridicule and hard work. He wants the young artist singing jazz music to change people’s attitude of wishing they would be whites thorough his music and inculcate in then the culture of seeing themselves as beautiful. This happened to encourage the blacks who at that time were being harassed, lynched and tortured by the Klu Klux Klan who were enforcing the Jim Crow laws (Doc.E)
The older generation in 1920s who mostly comprised of immigrants crossed swords with the newer generation who followed the red scare wave that opened a chapter of fear and interference. This led to bizarre and hysterical attacks against their aliens. This young generation was also influenced by the falling economic which was attributed to the number of immigrants who were coming and the tension that arose was manifested when the emergency quota act that restricted immigrants from certain countries such as Italy and Greek.
In the southern colonies there was a tug of war between the old guards and the new world. The old world wanted the Negro’s status quo to remain while the new world was doing anything possible to raise their status and be seen as human beings. The manifestation of this tension was the emergence of a secret organization formed by the old guards who wanted the status quo to remain.. This thing was very common in South Carolina, Arkansas and in Texas “The Klan, therefore has now come to speak for the great mass of Americans of the old pioneer stock… to understand the Klan, then it is necessary to understand the character and present mind of the mass of old stock American.” (Doc. D)
During the 1920s Americans attached a great deal of cultural significance to smoking. Women smoked in public just like men. They considered themselves as liberated women but this trend in this period started being confronted by groups of women organizations like Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) the tension arose when they clearly expressed their sentiments that they were working from scientific and standpoint to see to it that women whose the nation’s motherhood depend on stopped smoking (Doc. G) All they wanted to protect the present as well as the future generations.
In the 1920s marriages increased as a result of the end of the First World War which had broken many families. People who during the war thought only about it started thinking about how they could re-unite their families as well as making new ones. During this period, the cases of divorce was very low when put close to the level of marriages. In 1920 for every seven marriages there was only one case of divorce. (Doc. H)
As we have seen, the 1920s period in United States of America witnessed a lot of changes both in culture, behaviors and in values. For example after the First World War, marriage institution started being valued than it was before. Some cultures that were not useful were discarded for example, smoking of cigarettes by women who referred to themselves as liberated. Also some cultures which also were not good were preserved for example the culture of Klu Klux Klan continued to lynch, punish and harass innocent African Americans.
Steele S., 1990. The Content of our Character: A New Vision of Race in America. New York: St. Martin Press.