Counterculture of the 1960s

Counterculture of the 1960s
Peace sign.svg
The peace sign (or peace symbol), designed and first used in the UK by the organisation Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, later became associated with elements of the 1960s counterculture.[1][2]
DateMid 1960s to mid 1970s
OutcomeCultural movements
British Invasion
Hippie movement
Sexual revolution
Swinging Sixties
Protest movements
Anti-nuclear movement
Civil rights movement
Chicano Movement
American Indian Movement
Asian American movement
Nuyorican Movement
Free Speech Movement
Gay liberation
Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War
Second-wave feminism

The counterculture of the 1960s was an anti-establishment cultural phenomenon that developed throughout much of the Western world between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s.[3] The aggregate movement gained momentum as the U.S. Civil Rights Movement continued to grow, and, with the expansion of the American Government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam, would later become revolutionary to some.[4][5][6] As the 1960s progressed, widespread social tensions also developed concerning other issues, and tended to flow along generational lines regarding human sexuality, women's rights, traditional modes of authority, experimentation with psychoactive drugs, and differing interpretations of the American Dream. Many key movements related to these issues were born or advanced within the counterculture of the 1960s.[7]

As the era unfolded, what emerged were new cultural forms and a dynamic subculture that celebrated experimentation, modern incarnations of Bohemianism, and the rise of the hippie and other alternative lifestyles. This embrace of creativity is particularly notable in the works of musical acts such as the Beatles and Bob Dylan, as well as of New Hollywood filmmakers, whose works became far less restricted by censorship. Within and across many disciplines, many other creative artists, authors, and thinkers helped define the counterculture movement. Everyday fashion experienced a decline of the suit and especially of the wearing of hats; styles based around jeans, for both men and women, became an important fashion movement that has continued up to the present day.

Several factors distinguished the counterculture of the 1960s from the anti-authoritarian movements of previous eras. The post-World War II baby boom[8][9] generated an unprecedented number of potentially disaffected youth as prospective participants in a rethinking of the direction of the United States and other democratic societies.[10] Post-war affluence allowed much of the counterculture generation to move beyond the provision of the material necessities of life that had preoccupied their Depression-era parents.[11] The era was also notable in that a significant portion of the array of behaviors and "causes" within the larger movement were quickly assimilated within mainstream society, particularly in the US, even though counterculture participants numbered in the clear minority within their respective national populations.[12][13]

In general, the counterculture era commenced in earnest with the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963; became absorbed into the popular culture with the termination of U.S. combat military involvement in Southeast Asia; and ultimately concluded with the end of the draft in 1973 and the resignation of President Richard Nixon in August 1974.

  1. ^ Liungman, Carl (1991). Dictionary of Symbols. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-87436-610-5.
  2. ^ Westcott, Kathryn (March 20, 2008). "World's best-known protest symbol turns 50". BBC. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  3. ^ "Where Have All the Rebels Gone?" Ep. 125 of Assignment America. Buffalo, NY: WNET. 1975. (Transcript available via American Archive of Public Broadcasting.)
  4. ^ Hirsch, Eric D. 1993. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-395-65597-9. p. 419. "Members of a cultural protest that began in the U.S. in the 1960s and affected Europe before fading in the 1970s..fundamentally a cultural rather than a political protest."
  5. ^ Anderson, Terry H. (1995). The Movement and the Sixties. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-510457-8.
  6. ^ Landis, Judson R., ed. (1973). Current Perspectives on Social Problems (Third ed.). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Co. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-534-00289-3. Culture is the "social heritage" of society. It includes the complex set of learned and shared beliefs, customs, skills, habits, traditions, and knowledge common to the members of society. Within a culture, there may be subcultures made up of specific groups that are somewhat separate from the rest of society because of distinct traits, beliefs, or interests.
  7. ^ "Counterculture." POLSC301. Saylor Academy.
  8. ^ "Birth Rate Chart" (GIF). CNN. CNN. August 11, 2011. Annotated Chart of 20th Century US Birth Rates
  9. ^ "Baby Boom population - U.S. Census Bureau - USA and by state". Retrieved June 9, 2009.
  10. ^ Churney, Linda (1979). "Student Protest in the 1960s". Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute: Curriculum Unit 79.02.03. Archived from the original on July 29, 2016. Retrieved April 18, 2014. This unit focuses on student protest in the 60s
  11. ^ Frank Kidner; Maria Bucur; Ralph Mathisen; Sally McKee; Theodore Weeks (December 27, 2007). Making Europe: People, Politics, and Culture, Volume II: Since 1550. Cengage Learning. pp. 831–. ISBN 978-0-618-00481-2.
  12. ^ Rubin, Joan Shelley, and Scott E. Casper (March 14, 2013). The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History. Oxford University Press. pp. 264–. ISBN 978-0-19-976435-8.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Roger Kimball (October 10, 2013). The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America. Encounter Books. pp. 82–. ISBN 978-1-59403-393-3.