How has Western Society Changed from 1945 to 1980?

How has Western society changed from 1945 to 1980?

Western Society had changed in many areas including industrial, tourism, education, and economic. New technologies of computers, television, jet planes, contraceptive devices, and advanced surgical techniques all dramatically and quickly altered the pace and nature of human life.

Postwar Europe was characterized by changing social values and new attitudes toward the meaning of the human experience. The noticeable changes affected the lifestyle of the middle class. Traditional occupations such as merchants and the professions of law, medicine, and the universities were greatly augmented by a new group of managers and technicians. Large companies and government agencies employed increasing numbers of white-collar supervisory and administrative personnel. (Duiker 222)

There was a remarkable change in society from the countryside to the cities. The number of people in agriculture had decreased by 50 percent. The industrial working class was unable to expand. In West Germany, industrial workers made up 48 percent of the labor force throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1950s, the working class was able to purchase televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, and stereos. In 1948, there were 5 million cars in all of Europe. By 1957, the number of cars had tripled. By mid-1960s, there were almost 45 million cars in Europe. (Duiker 222)

After the war, the combination of more vacation time, increased prosperity, and the flexibility provided by package tours with their lower rates and low budget rooms enabled millions to expand their travel possibilities. By the mid-1960s, some 100 million tourists were crossing European borders each year. (Duiker 222, 223)

In the 1950s and 1960s, European states began to promote greater equality of opportunity in higher education by eliminating fees, and universities experienced an increase of students from the middle and lower classes. In 1950, only 3 or 4 percent of Western European young people were enrolled in a university. In France, 4.5 percent of young people went to a university in 1950. By 1965, the number of young students increased to 14.5 percent. Overall, enrollments in European universities had more than tripled between 1940 and 1960. (Duiker 223)

Overcrowded classrooms, unapproachable professors, and authoritarian administrators increased student resentment. This discontent led to an outburst of student revolts in the late 1960s. One source of anger among the student revolutionaries of the late 1960s was the lingering influence of traditional institutions and values. There was a sexual revolution in European nations in the 1960s. Sex education in the schools and the decriminalization of homosexuality were two aspects of Sweden’s liberal legislation. The birth control pill became widely available by the mid-1960s and gave people more freedom in sexual behavior. (Duiker 223)

Divorce rates increased significantly, especially in the 1960s, while premarital and extramarital sexual experiences also rose considerably. The 1960s also saw the emergence of a drug culture. Marijuana use was common among college and university students. (Duiker 224)

Aging populations, high unemployment rates, and heavy expenses for social programs have compelled some European governments to consider reducing some of the social benefits that their citizens view as a birthright. Measures designed to raise taxes, increase the number of working hours, and reduce pension and health benefits have caused strong popular resistance and created a change in governments. (Duiker 224)

In the 1970s, there were almost as many women as men in the workplace. Most of the women were employed in professions previously reserved for men. Working class women still earn salaries lower than those paid to men for equal work. Many European women still face the double burden of earning income and raising a family while maintaining the household. Women feminists formed numerous groups to increase awareness of women’s issues and working towards legalizing both contraceptives and abortion. (Duiker 225)

European society had witnessed many changes after World War 2. There was some dispute over equal rights between men and women, and between the middle class and the working class. The European governments had made some positive changes from 1945 to 1980, but still some negative results occurred in regards to industrial, tourism, education, and economic areas.