H CS 29

Social Transformations in the United States (1945-1994)

A period of post-war prosperity allowed the United States to undergo fundamental social change. Adding to this change was an emphasis on scientific inquiry, the shift from an industrial to a technological/service economy, the impact of mass media, the phenomenon of suburban and Sun Belt migrations, and the expansion of civil rights.

Content Statement

29. The postwar economic boom, greatly affected by advances in science, produced epic changes in American life.

Content Elaborations

The United States experienced an era of unprecedented prosperity and economic growth following World War II. Contributing to this prosperity was public demand for goods and services. The demand for housing and automobile ownership spurred the growth of suburbs. Economic opportunities in defense plants and high-tech industries led to the growth of the Sunbelt.

Postwar prosperity produced some other epic changes (e.g., baby boom, increased consumerism, increased mobility via automobiles, pop culture, franchising and longer life spans).

Advances in science following the war also impacted American life. Examples include:

  • Medicine (e.g., polio vaccine, birth control pill, artificial heart valve, open-heart bypass, organ transplant, genetic engineering);
  • Communication (e.g., transistor, television, computers, Internet, mobile phones);
  • Nuclear energy (e.g., atomic weapons, nuclear power plants); and
  • Transportation (e.g., passenger jet airplanes, catalytic converters in cars).

Expectations for Learning

Describe how American life in the postwar period was impacted by the postwar economic boom and by advances in science.