What Was The Counterculture Of The 1960s and 1970s?

Across much of the Western World, especially in English-speaking nations, a widespread revolution against established norms and conventions was seen in the era.

A "counterculture" refers to a culture in opposition to or disregard of the mainstream culture or central aspects of the mainstream culture. It is exercised through protests against certain elements, contempt for a particular way of doing things, and, in extreme scenarios, the creation of a divergent culture from the culture in place.

5. Historical Background and Overview of the 'Counterculture' -

The Counterculture of the 1960s was an anti-establishment culture that spread throughout the Western world in the 1960s and lasting into the mid-1970s. The counter culture movement was inspired by similar movement in Germany from 1896 to 1908. In Germany, the movement was commonly referred to as Wandervogel which means ‘migratory bird.' The counter culture movement started in the early 1960s in the US. The movement involved youths who opposed traditional values held by society. The youths engaged in non-violent protests. They were against racial segregation, widespread poverty, environmental pollution caused by rapid industrialization, and discrimination of minority groups. The youths also fought for the freedom of speech and assembly. The emergence of television as a source of information and entertainment fueled the cultural change, especially among the youth.

4. Global Reach and Notable People and Events -

The youths succeeded in bringing an end to restrictive censorship of films and other mass media productions. As a result, film makers made productions on subjects that were previously prohibited bringing change to the mainstream media. Fashion trends and hairstyles evolved rapidly. The youths were quick to adopt while the old were hesitant which led to a ‘Generation gap.' Additionally, some college students took up the use of drugs such as marijuana which resulted in a drug culture among the youth. Law enforcement officers and students often clashed. In one of the protests a popular activist, John Sinclair, was arrested in Michigan. Youths joined the effort in campaigning against the Vietnam War. The protest against Vietnam War resulted in a greater counterculture movement. The movement spread to Western Europe in the cities of Paris, London, Amsterdam, Rome, and West Berlin. In Europe, the counter-culture propagators created their own fashion, music, magazines, and lifestyle. The movement in France involving students nearly toppled the government in May 1968. In Czech, the anti-establishment youths maintained long hair. The youths were seen as unkempt and were banned from most social places. In some instances, thousands of long-haired youths were arrested and forced to cut their hair. Satirical magazines emerged in Australia in the 1960s some of which published obscene content and were subjected to trial. The Mexican revolt was manifested through rock music.

3. Development, Spread, and Achievements -

With the emergence of the television as a primary source of news, information, and entertainment, especially after World War II, coupled with a massive expansion of consumerism, led to the growth of television advertising. These became major components in the development and the spread of the counterculture. The advertisements created disillusionment among the young generation particularly in the United States as well as formulating new social behaviors. The advertising agencies were also courting the hip youth market, while the news coverage of the horrifying images of Vietnam War brought the reality of the conflict to the living rooms for the first time. The spread of Cinema and News Radio also helped in spreading the culture at the time to different parts of the world.

2. Challenges and Controversies -

The counterculture movement encountered resistance from law enforcement officials as well as the older generation. Numerous protests took place in the different cities involving police and the counterculture propagators. In most instances, their newly adopted culture was unacceptable and therefore banned. Many activists and students involved in the counterculture movement were arrested.

1. Lasting Legacy -

The counterculture movement had a significant, lasting influence on the music, fashion, literature, and art of the Western World. The movement addressed some taboo topics such as homophobia, xenophobia, and racism. As a result, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community gained greater acceptance, and same-sex relationships were legalized in most states of the United States. Racial segregation was abolished in most states following the counterculture non-violent protests. Other aspects of the counterculture movement were assimilated into the mainstream culture and ceased to be taboo. The counterculture movement of the 1960s played a key role in shaping modern day society. It led to growth in the music industry which continues up to date.It resulted in a less conservative and more liberal society. The movement has been accused of leading to a degradation of traditional values. The disregard for cultural values by the counterculture movement has led to the unruly and violent society we have today.

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