American History: General prosperity of Americans during the 1950s

During the post WW2 era, Americans experienced prosperity and affluence. This was observed by the increase in consumer need for electronics, motor cars and houses causing a boom in the sale of these merchandises. During this era there was a general atmosphere of affluence which changed peoples’ lifestyles. The affluence and prosperity came with men holding or aspiring to hold jobs in big corporations and dressing in Flannel suits. The mandate of such men was to hold onto their corporate jobs and support their families.

However despite this period of prosperity in the American history in the 1950’s, there are those groups which did not share in it. One of these groups is the black Americans. At around this period when Americans were experiencing prosperity, the Blacks were busy fighting for their rights through the civil rights movement. The Blacks were fighting against unequal liberties as compared to their white counterparts which formed among other reasons the basis for the formation of the civil rights movement (Brinkley, 1999). The law at that time favored the white man over the black man. There was widespread segregation in the use of public facilities and schools. The above among other reasons there made it very difficult for the African Americans to share in the general prosperity experienced in the 1950’s.

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Another group that did not share in the general prosperity was the rebellious groups which were non-conformists. During the 1950’s prosperity era there was concerted effort from both the media and peers for everyone to conform. However there were those who felt the need to be different and hence were looking for ways of escaping from the confinements of the materialistic and affluent world that made up the American dream (Halberstam, 1994). As a consequence a counterculture emerged whereby films and music were used to pass a long non-conformist message to the audience.

An example is a film entitled ‘The wild one and rebel with no cause.’ A young generation joined in the fight against conformity by forming idealism named the ‘Beats.’ The young people became opposed to things that were associated with conformity to the affluence that had creped into the society such wearing of flannel suits, doing things routinely etc.In conclusion it can therefore be stated that the groups that missed out on the ‘good days’ of the 1950’s were the African Americans and the Non-conformist as discussed above.


Brinkley, A. (1999). American History: A Survey. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Halberstam, D. (1994). The Fiftie: American prosperity. New York: Ballantine Books, Inc.


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