American Society after World War II
According to Wiese (2004), the 20th century history of the United States hinges on the post-world war era. Following the World War II, the U.S faced diverse changes which had both adverse and positive impacts on the American society.it was after this war that several policies and programs were formulated to transform the American society. This essay explores a number of issues that had an impact on the American society following the war. Suburbanization is considered to be among the principal transformations to American society that was brought about by WWII. This entails the mass relocation of families from the inner cities to the suburbs, which mainly involved a process of lower-density commercial, industrial and residential development away from the central metropolis. Suburbanization was experienced for a second time in the US after WW11 when an increased population of Americans relocated from the rural areas and cities to the suburbs, escalating a process that had its precursors in the pre-war era but found its ultimate manifestation in the post-war environment of demobilization and economic progress that continues to impact the American society today (Roger, 2004).
The new population centers were instrumental in redefining the American way of life and presented fresh challenges. It is important to note that this massive immigration to the suburbs following the WW11 cannot be attributed to a single aspect given that it involved the consequences of the Depression, as well as the WW11. These outcomes included a housing scarcity that was aggravated by postwar demobilization, participation of the federal government, the advancements of technology, as well as a pronounced change in demographics that culminated in the dramatic population transference that still affects America in the present day (Wiese, 2004). The GI Bill is also a major factor that had an impact on the American society following the WW11. In order to study the impact of the G.I. Bill on the American society following the WW11, it is essential to comprehend the parameters of American society around 1940 prior to the Second World War. The U.S Congress ratified the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also referred to as the G.I. Bill. This piece of federal legislation released different openings for veterans to efficiently transition from wartime routine to peacetime civilian life. The legislation primarily presented provisions that addressed education, employment and housing. The G.I. Bill presented substantial subsidies towards education for veterans eager to join college. To exemplify the substantial impact of the G.I. Bill, it is imperative to review the statistics of college enrollments. Two years prior to the war college enrollments of U.S. citizens was almost 160,000, while a decade later, the figure had increased to approximately 500,000. The link between the G.I. Bill and the development of suburbs is in the premise that by offering low interest credit to veterans towards the acquisition of single family homes, the veterans relocated to the growing suburbs (Roger, 2004). While the suburbs were connected to factories and offices by the increasing network of roads, it follows that these suburbs were accessible exclusively through the ownership of an automobile. While automobiles were valued assets prior to WW11, it was after the war that automobiles developed into the new prerequisite for Americans.
The growing interest in automobiles presented another impetus to relocate from the city and to the suburbs. With the new access to personal modes of transport, families preferred to live a distance from their workplaces since they could travel to and from work without difficulties. In 1956 there was a rapid increase in road construction as a result of the ratification of the 1956 National Interstate and Defense Highways Act today (Roger, 2004). Wiese (2004) argues that this facilitated substantial federal funding for the projected costs in the construction of interstate highways. Consequently, the act enabled a continual migration of populations to the suburbs and an increased need for personal mode of transportation as families migrated from cities to suburbs. After the Second World War, Americans were keen to spend their cash on commodities that had been in short supply during the war. This new eagerness to spend brought about the effects of consumerism on society. There was also increased spending by the federal government on defense and foreign aid. This also stirred the demand for American commodities and services, which further nurtured the development of old and new industries. Jobs in the service industries also increased, as the economy developed.
As a ripple effect, for an increasing population of Americans the good life meant living in the suburbs, and the rising middle-class also gave rise to a critical component of the emerging consumer economy (Wiese, 2004). Kruse and Sugrue (2006) argue that, WWII presented an incentive for human rights defenders to advocate for civil rights for African Americans. The impetus was nurtured by the successful push for the employment of African Americans at wartime factories, as well as the formation of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. These two major developments were critical in the movement for egalitarianism irrespective of race. Nonetheless, as the Black population in northern cities increased owing to the sustained Great Migration of southern African Americans to the north in WW11, a significant population of the whites moved to the suburbs to evade integrated neighborhoods and schools. In this context, de facto discrimination, imposed by practice instead of through the application of laws, was often attained in cities by means of violent, as well as non-violent approaches. Religion remains a core aspect in the contemporary American life. The U. S during the towards the end of the20th century was, paradoxically, increasingly secular and considerably religious. While the rate of church membership across Western Europe had significantly declined to approximately 4 to 5%, in the U.S it therate was abve 50%. It is imperative to mention that American politics and religion have lways been interconnected in complex ways, albeit the First Amendment to the Constitution indicated their separation (Allitt, 2003).