The 1960’s Cultural Revolution in the American history saw a decline in family cohesiveness. In the U.S, the aspect of capitalism continues to disintegrate the family institution to such an extent that it has greatly lost its significance. This can be attributed to the economic, political, scientific and technological advancements, which have suppressed the social development. The profit oriented society has continued to deinstitutionalize the family.
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Initially, the European colonies suppressed the Native Americans while they continued to import the blacks as slaves to work in their farms. As a result, there occurred a cultural revolution that accelerated segregation of the American society along racial lines. A counterculture wave erupted as evidenced by the transformations in the music industry, civil rights movements and sexual revolution.
Racial differences played a great part in marginalizing the blacks together with their music, which excluded them from the American popular. Therefore, the Cultural Revolution saw creation of new genres in the music industry as well as the rising of the African American music. The political and economic atmosphere that followed created a crisis as the African Americans were transiting from blues to hip-hop genres.
This was followed by migration from the farms to the urban centers. Racial consciousness triggered a cultural revolution that caused a distinction between the blacks’ music- the modern jazz and the American popular which marks a time of reconfiguration in the American society. Popular music and the pronunciation of racial gaps had detrimental effects on the family setup.
The rapid growth in the recording industry continued and was followed by commercialization of television and new genres of music came up. Every household owned a television set which offered entertainment and this acted as the focal point for all family members. The family especially the youths, now concentrated on entertainment, which declined their attention towards other important family values.
The Civil Rights Movement
From 1950’s many Americans were gaining confidence and saw a need to reject global communism. The traditional aspects had to be discarded; the blacks established the civil rights movement which offered hope for them to achieve equality. John F Kennedy was at the forefront in the anti-communist campaigns to achieve social reforms for blacks, which were characterized by upheaval as the youths were rejecting the conservative values.
Materialism characterized this period, which helped to form a counterculture that triggered a social revolution in America. This was to oppose conservatism and engagement of the American military on the Vietnam unrests (Mintz & Kellog, 1988). The Vietnam War ultimately called for the military assistance where many American troops died and this triggered antiwar movement. Many citizens criticized engagement of U.S in Vietnam as many continued to lose their lives.
This triggered civil upheaval and the public’s minds were all drifted toward opposing the war rather than on the family. Antiwar movement was established under the 1950’s peace movement, which was deeply rooted in churches and public institutions of higher learning. Rise of lone parenthood could be attributed to the fact that many Americans men died in the war while others were imprisoned.
The social movements invested efforts in liberalizing the nation and also contributed to the sexual revolution which more importantly, inquired women’s rights. The media was growing vastly which not only aided in enhancing the counterculture but also in growing the music industry. As a result, family households reduced in size, with individuals opting for single parenthood or living without children. Divorce rates increased dramatically and illegitimate children rose in number.
The traditional family setup of father, mother and children started being replaced. In 1960, for instance, “The average number of persons in a household was 3.3, and average family size was 3.7 persons; in 1990, the comparable figures were 2.6 persons per household and 3.2 per family. Most households are still family households, but this household type has steadily decreased as a portion of all households, from 87% in 1960 to 70% in 1990” (Kamerman & Kahn, 1997).
Effects on Family Cohesion
In nineteen sixty when the Cultural Revolution was at its best, seventy percent of families in the, U.S were composed of the father as a source of the family income, the mother as the home maker, with their dependent kids. Since the Cultural Revolution, a lot of things transformed where family ties continued to loosen. This could be attributed to the intense shift of cultural norms where approaches towards the family. Before then, marriage was a necessity for the welfare of the family, for social fitness and helped to define gender roles.
Single men and women were observed as neurotic since the source of family happiness lied in embracing the traditional family norms. Cultural Revolution has led to self realization and a sense of independence where the traditional family is no longer regarded as a source of happiness.
Nevertheless traditional family was regarded important in offering economic security and showing emotional care to the children. Marriage vows which signified a lifetime commitment were then obvious while non-marital births and divorce cases were an uncommon occurrence. The family continued to shift attention to sexual satisfaction, companionship and closeness as the core values (Mintz & Kellog, 1988).
The nineteen sixties counterculture movement is marked by the pop culture where many musicians were involved in drugs which affected their lives negatively and some even died of overdose. A new era of pop music was at hand since the radios favored the music for it had many recordings. Many youths felt a need to modify and therefore they started listening to other genres such as Soul Music and Rock and Roll. The film industry was not left behind either since the counterculture movement changed the face of entertainment.
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Movies and music started to depart from social norms such as sex and women oppression which was faced with a controversy. Sexual Revolution was inevitable especially in the entertainment industry which became more sexually explicit, put emphasis on the drug culture at the time and aided in the rise of feminism in America. Before then, women were homemakers and were not part of official jobs. Feminists opposed publicly the oppression of women socially, economically and politically.
They questioned the place of women and this was embraced by women who initiated the women liberation movement. Women as a result became aware of their sexuality and this was marked by a change of fashion from more conservative modes of dressing to a modern and more revealing one such as the bikini and miniskirts. They transformed their hair styles and this enhanced their looks (Ellwood &Jencks, 2002). This had a detrimental effect of the family cohesiveness since there has been a notable reduction in two parent families from then.
More lone parent families, which were headed by women started to emerge. Women started engaging in premarital sex showing that the traditional norms about the issue had drifted. These resulted due to more cases of divorce and non-marital births increased. This was opposed to the initial attitude that couples had to marry if they bore children out of wedlock.
Additionally, Sexual revolution may have come with use of contraceptives thus decreased births and higher social collisions. Premarital and extramarital cases started being condoned, which declined the marriage rates. Permissiveness regarding non-marital sex significantly increased the rates of lone parenthood (Ellwood &Jencks, 2002).
All these cultural changes diverted the attention paid to the family and this decreased the family cohesion. Every member of the society was actively engaging in the new events such that less time was available for the family to bond. The social pressures for instance, were so intense for the youths to handle. Many became victims of the situation e.g. drug abuse, which accelerated misunderstandings within the family. Youth’s culture transformed in the communist society as the young intellects aimed to drift from conservatism.
Crucial movements established such as radical feminism and liberated youths. This led to sexual immorality as the youths became liberalized from the hands of their parents to conform to the changing American lifestyle. However, more detrimental effects of the Cultural Revolution emerged where drug culture cropped in the society and traditional norms such as familism were neglected. Instead, a new era of individualism was introduced marked by attitudinal shifts, the reason behind the current family trends.
Ellwood, D. T. and Jencks, C. 2002. The Spread of Single-Parent Families in the United States since 1960. John F. Kennedy School of Government: Harvard University.
Kamerman, S. B. and Kahn, A. J. (1997). Family Change and Family Policies in Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.
Mintz, S. and Kellog S. (1988). Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life. New York: The Free Press.