The Roaring 20's

Ankith Reddy, Nick Romeo, Amanda Wilson, & Umaymah Sultana

Fads of the 20's (Nick)

During the 1920s, there was much more money going around and the economy was at an all time high. Most Americans had jobs and jobs that produced more money than working in a factory. This lead to a big “consumer society” where people had money to buy things for pleasure. Silly fads became the interest of the 20s when people had money as well as a lot of leisure time as well. Tests of human endurance became a fun thing to do like flagpole sitting, or dance marathons. Other fads like watching football or reading magazines like Time & Readers Digest became the interest of many Americans as well. Fads were a big part of the society during the 1920s.

On August 20, 1920 the National football League was created. This was a big factor that contributed to the popular fads in the 20s. Many Americans had already taken a liking to football but creating the NFL made football accessible to everybody through radio and people were able to go to these professional games. The NFL was so new and intriguing to many Americans that going to games was the new destination, and many people had the money and time to engage in this fad. The economic boom in the 20s made it possible for the NFL to flourish because there was a lot of money available to put into football. A lot of time and money was spent on the new fad of football.
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Birth of a Mass Culture (Amanda)

The advent of advertising and the spread of the radio created a mass culture where Americans across the country listened to the same ads and bought the same goods. The radio facilitated this new mass culture by bringing sponsored programs and commercials to millions of American homes. Advertising became an industry in and of itself, creating demand for the products of mass consumption.

The economic boom of the Roaring 20’s led Americans to spend more money and time on leisure activities and consumer goods; in particular, Americans bought radios. Of all the new appliances to enter the American home, none had greater impact than the radio. From the start of the decade to the end, the sale of radios soared. It was even common for those living in rural areas to have radios. The radio brought the same news, entertainment, and ads to homes across the country. The radio drew people together through the mass delivery and consumption of uniform information and cultivated a mass culture that revolutionized the Roaring 20’s.

As the radio entered the lives of millions of Americans, businessmen saw it as the latest and greatest means of selling their wares. This new medium was soon transformed into the flagship of advertising. Nationwide advertising fueled the consumer driven economic boom of the Roaring 20’s. Advertising in conjunction with the spread of chain stores allowed listeners all over the nation to go out and buy the same products. Advertising put consumption constantly in the forefront of the American consciousness and created a mass culture where Americans had demand for and access to the same goods.

Cultural Civil War (Umaymah)

In the 1920's, many conflicts arose among members of various groups. Examples if such groups would be the urban, city dwellers and the small town residents, the blacks and the whites, or even the Protestants and the Catholics.

One example of an event that fed the cultural civil war was the Red Scare. This conflict was primarily between the US government and communists, in this case assumed to be immigrants. This led to widespread anti immigrant sentiment. In the case of the Palmer Raids, The US Department of Justice, under the lead of Attorney General A Mitchell Palmer, decided to capture and deport leftists, resulting in the deportation of over 5009 foreign citizens. To further impose this idea that immigrants and foreigners would bring about more communism, the Emergency quota act was implemented. This act essentially limited the number of immigrants allowed into the US by only allowing a certain percentage from each country of birth. Exceptions were made for government officials and tourists, but the overall number of foreign immigrants was temporarily limited. Perhaps one of the most extreme examples of this "Cultural Civil War" to appear during the Red Scare was the case of the two Italian men who were wrongfully convicted and executed, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. In April of 1920, a man and his guard were killed, and the killers managed to make off with a lot of money. The suspects were believed to be Italian, and Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested for the murder. Although the authorities had failed to come up with any strong evidence incriminating the two men, they were still accused and executed by the authorities. This decision caused much uproar during the 20's. Many people believed that Sacco and Vanzetti were being wrongfully discriminated against, and people protested in the streets to battle the decision of the authorities to accuse Sacco and Vanzetti, which was based primarily on the fact that they were Italian.

Another example during the 20's of the "Cultural Civil War" phenomena can be seen in the Great Migration. This migration of African Americans from the rural South to the bigger cities of the North, introduced black culture to white Americans, as seen through the Harlem Renaissance and the emergence of Jazz and Blues music. A cultural conflict between the blacks and the whites rose due to the new black culture being introduced, which made many of the whites "uncomfortable". Many African Americans migrated to places like Chicago and New York, in search of work in the labor forces. This influx of African Americans, however, caused the new migrants to have to deal with the realities of racism. They were forced to suffer the poor working conditions most laborers faced, but more so because of their culture. Overall, the black community faced a lot of heat from the people already living in the city. Along with competitions for work, there rose competition for living space. As such, segregation became more of a problem. Even the government stated that housing should be separated based on race and ethnicity. Throughout the 20's more and more conflicts rose between the black and white communities, resulting in an escalation of this "Cultural Civil War".

Economic Status (Ankith)

The Roaring 20’s was marked by a booming economy due to mass culture because of the growth of consumerism in markets, technological advancements that became a necessity in the middle class society, and advertisements that convinced people to buy goods. However, this economy would stagnate, causing America to fall into the Great Depression.

With the increase of mass production, Americans were able to afford many goods they considered to be a necessity. This was represented by the production of the assembly line by Henry Ford. With mass production, the prices of automobiles fell, and the majority of Americans was able to afford cars, as they eventually became a necessity for traveling to important places such as work and school. This was also coupled by the technological advancements that appeared in the roaring 20’s. Household items such as washing-machines, vacuum cleaners, and refrigerators were mass produced and used by everyone from coast to coast. As a result, this boomed the electronics industry.

Mass culture also resulted in a booming economy throughout the 1920’s because of the increase in entertainment in leisure in society. As middle class workers earned higher wages, they were able to watch movies, which were considered to be the most popular form of leisure at the time. This proliferation of movie theaters led to the development of a robust mass culture, that as a result, stimulated a booming economy during the 1920’s. This was also coupled by the development of the network radio, that only spread information and provide entertainment throughout all of America, but also facilitated advertising. The new advertising industry developed methods to entice middle class workers to buy products through forms of media such as the radio. Furthermore, sponsorships by movies and household products allowed for the advertising industry to work in harmony with other industries and as a result, promote consumer interest. With the increase in leisure by movies and radio, and use of advertisements to persuade consumers to buy new products, the robust mass culture stimulated a huge economic boom in the roaring twenties.

However, during the late 1920’s, America’s booming economy came to a fall, as the stock market crash caused billions of dollars to disappear. Perhaps the most damaging effect of the stock market crash was the birth of the Great Depression. Also, although many areas of culture such as the film and radio industry stabilized, others eventually fell due excess production, thus leading to an economic downfall. During the late 1920’s, most Americans already had the popular technological and household necessities, so by the time the mass culture stagnated, so did the economy. As a result, the production of many of these products became unnecessary. Furthermore, after World War 1, soldiers who came back to apply for jobs had no opportunities primarily because the invention of mass production techniques caused employers to rely less on manual labor. Because of the excess of mass culture and mass production, the effects of the stock market crash, and the decreased opportunities for World War I soldiers who needed jobs, the economy of the 1920’s fell dramatically, eventually leading to America’s worst economical downfall, the Great Depression.

Final Response

Amidst the cultural conflicts of the roaring 20's the introduction of advanced communication and transportation technologies helped facilitate the diffusion of modern values and the creation of a new mass culture through the introduction of the radio and advertising. The increased advertising through means of the radio allowed Americans all across the nation to have access to the same goods, fads, and entertainment. Furthermore, the most popular form of entertainment during the time, movies, were watched by Americans from coast to coast.Fads such as watching football, reading magazines, and participating in dance marathons also became a part of this new mass culture. This new mass culture also included improved transportation, such as the automobile. As more and more Americans became able to afford them, automobiles became more popular during the 20's. Lastly, increased transportation allowed for events such as the Great Migration, which ultimately led to new forms of music and entertainment, such as Jazz and Blues, to be introduced into the American mass culture.