Society in the United States, 1945 - 1989

Leaving Cert > The United States and the World > Society in the United States, 1945 - 1989

More women began to enter the workforce in the 1960s,
but they still faced a large amount of discrimination.

© AMC
You've looked at the US through a number of layers now: foreign policy, domestic factors on foreign policy and the economy. Much of the rest of this topic looks at American society from the years 1945 to 1989. You'll begin in this section by looking at the Consumer Society, the role of work in society, and the role of women and the family.

The US became increasingly consumerist after World War II. Advertisers wanted people to believe that they needed new products and services to be happy, but was that true? Technological developments meant changes in the world of work, but would they be for better or worse? The workforce also included more and more women in this time, but they were still treated as second-class citizens. How did US society move on from this to a woman being seen as the frontrunner for the presidency in 2016?

In the next few sections, you'll examine US society in even greater detail. The key personalities are of great importance to these sections, so make sure you know them!

Continue to The Age of Consensus, 1945 - 1968

  • The Consumer Society
    • What is meant by consumerism and affluence? How did consumerism develop after World War II?
    • How did consumerism influence the growth in car sales? In fast food? In housing? In television ownership?
    • What were yuppies?
    • Why did some people criticise consumerism? Who were the Beats?
    • How did consumerism influence leisure activities such as sport, TV, movies, books and musicals?
  • Work
    • What does the American Dream mean?
    • How did the nature of work change over the 1960s? How did this affect unemployment?
    • What impacts did the assembly line, mechanisation and automation have on the American worker?
    • What was the "Organisation Man"? (see Key Personalities)
    • Why did trade unions decline in the 1960s and 70s?
  • The Role of Women and the Family
    • How did the US begin to move away from the traditional role of women?
    • Why did more women enter the workforce in the years after 1945? What difficulties did they face?
    • How did the women's movement begin? What was Betty Friedan's role? What is radical feminism?
    • What successes and challenges has the women's movement faced?
    • How have marriage rates, divorce and illegitimacy changed the family in US society? What concerns did people have?
Key Personalities: 
Muhammad Ali
The "Organisation Man"
Betty Friedan


As a consumer, you'll want your fridge to be as full as this!


Higher Level (100 marks each)

2015: What was the American Dream and to what extent was it reflected in life in the US, 1945-1989?

2011: What did one or more of the following contribute to American culture: Marilyn Monroe; Muhammad Ali, Billy Graham?

2007: What contribution did Betty Friedan and/or Norman Mailer make to society in the United States?


Ordinary Level:
2015, The United States and the World, Part C:
What criticisms did Betty Friedan or Norman Mailer make about life in the US? (40)

2014, The United States and the World, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on Betty Friedan. (30)

2013, The United States and the World, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on the "Organisation Man". (30)
2013, The United States and the World, Part C:
In what ways did the life and work of Betty Friedan reflect the changing role of women and the family in modern America? (40)

2015, The United States and the World, Part B
2012, The United States and the World, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on Muhammad Ali. (30) 
2012, The United States and the World, Part C:
What type of person was the "Organisation Man" and how did he reflect American values? (40)

2011, The United States and the World, Part C:
What did Marilyn Monroe and/or Muhammad Ali contribute to American culture? (40)

2010, The United States and the World, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on the changing nature of women and the family. (30)


A fruit processing factory in Hawaii in the 1960s.

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