Compare the 1960s to the 1930s

  • Uncategorized


Comparethe 1960s to the 1930s

The1930’s and 1960’s were turbulent and traumatic times as theAmerican society underwent social and economic changes. Even asthere were similarities between the two decades, there weredifferences since the Great Depression occurred in the 1930’s, butthe 60’s were more prosperous. The latter decade also saw increasedracial tensions as African Americans and activists supported CivilRights, but there was still opposition to desegregation (Gilmore,2015). The upheavals of the 1960’s were also closely tied to thechanging social order, including the growing prominence of CivilRights activism and counter culture. Both President Roosevelt andJohnson supported government intervention in the economy, and withthe adoption of civil rights policies African Americans increasinglysupported the Democratic Party, while support for the party amongWhite southerners dwindled (Gilmore, 2015). This is acomparison-contrast of the 1930’s and 1960’s America.

Inthe 1930’s the economic impact of the Great Depression causedupheaval in the U.S. with uncertainty on the plight of the people.This is especially for the African Americans who were ‘thelast to be hired and first to be fired’.The high unemployment rates and growing poverty rates inRoosevelt’sadministration facilitated the creation of the New Deal programs(Gilmore, 2015). Additionally, 1960’s were also characterized byupheavals with disagreements on the adoption of Civil Rights anddesegregation. Under President Johnson, the role of the government ineconomic activities also grew more prominent similar to the 1930’s.The ‘War on Poverty’ was adopted to build the ‘Great Society’in the 1960’s, focusing also on prosperity.

Therewere parallels between the 1930’s and the 1960’s with regards toracial tension, exacerbated by the worsening of the economicsituation. Even as the African Americans migrated to the North, therewas increased apprehension among Northerners. At the same time,segregation was still present in the South. In 1960’s, effortstowards desegregation were met with opposition and as DemocraticParty expanded, the government programs, especially in the Southwere drawn away from the party by the growing visibility of theAfrican Americans. In the 1930’s Southern and Northern Democratswere deeply divided with the Southerners largely opposed toanti-lynching resolutions.

Evenas there were similarities between the 1930s and the 1960s, thesocial issues affecting the societies were different. In the 19 30s,there was social outrage increased immigration, and uncertainty aboutthe place of African Americans, while communist ideas were adopted bysome fighting for social justice. Those holding left wing views werepurged from government roles or shunned from mainstream institutionsbeginning in the 1930’s when there was McCarthyism. On the otherhand, social justice and civil rights activists had more leveragethan their predecessors as the mass media covered discrimination anddesgegation efforts.

Therewas widespread violence in the 1960’s unlike the 1930’s with theassassination of political activists and legislators. The 30’swere characterized with despair and renewed calls for patriotism, butactivists not well organized in calling for the end todiscrimination. With the growth of the Civil Rights movement, therewere renewed efforts to support equality. The societal dividebetween those who called for radical change in the society and thosesupporting the status quo precipitated disorder and turbulence. Thisextended to support and opposition to the Vietnam War and the growthof Progressivism (Gilmore, 2015).

Thegrowing poverty levels in the 1930’s necessitated the Rooseveltadministration to intervene in the economy, while the countrymaintained an isolationist policy. However, in the 1960’st thegrowing threat of the Soviet Union precipitated expansionism on theglobal stage with the U.S as a rising superpower (Gilmore, 2015). Thesocial reforms adopted in the 60’s unsettled the prevailing socialorder with the emergence of the counterculture and anti-war movementsthat rallied against America’s involvement in wars outside the U.S. The clash of ideologies and perceptions on the place of the U.S inthe world was characterized with divergent views on U.S foreignpolicies.

Inthe 30’s the government officials were more assertive in effectingsocietal changes, especially on the economic front. However,societal changes in the 60’s were on the social front as morepeople called for recognition of the fight for women’s suffrage,and Civil Rights (Gilmore, 2015). The decade was also characterizedby the burgeoning economy as the manufacturing industry grew from theWWII onwards. Hence, concerns of equality and ‘economic justice’were both prominent in the latter decade unlike the 30’s whenthere were concerns of reducing poverty rather than social reforms toadopt civil rights policies. The changes were more profound amongthe African Americans, as more were educated in desegregated schools,and were allowed to vote in the 1960’s.

Peopleadapted to the economic upheaval in the 1930’s by accepting theexpansion of government role in influencing welfare policies. A largesection of women and African Americans were involved in publicdiscourse in the 1960’s unlike before. This is particularly withthe growing prominence of the anti-war and Civil Rights movements,and people were more likely to accept the societal changesvoluntarily, but this was associated with social upheaval as theAmericans were deeply divided among those who wanted changes, andthose who did not. It is noteworthy, that economic growth andProgressivism in the 1960’s precipitated the social changes in the1960’s.


Gilmore,G. E. (2015). TheseUnited States: A nation in the making, 1890 to the present.New York, NY: W.W. Norton &amp Company.

Close Menu