Describe popular culture in Britain at the beginning of the 1960’s

Popular culture changed significantly during the 1960’s. As a result of the war Britain’s economy was damaged. The late 40’s + 50’s were a period of economic recovery. Rationing was coming to an end and people had unlimited access to everyday goods. Consumer goods such as cars and televisions were also beginning to become more available to middle and working class people, whereas they were too expensive for all but upper class families in the years after the war.

The period between 1959 – 1963 was thought to be a time for economic recovery. Britain was getting back to its pre-war strength, with full employment people’s pay increased and working hours reduced. There was more money to spend on ‘leisure’ and more time in which to pursue cultural interests. Popular culture reflected changes and the 60’s marked a radical change with the post war austerity of the 50’s. Britain had “never had it so good” and British culture took off as a result.

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The music scene had been dominated by American artists such as Elvis. He was an actor as well as a singer and the key influence in 50’s rock-n-roll. British artists like Cliff Richard copied this US style and became very popular in Britain. He had his own TV show called Cliff! and was the first Britain to have a number 1 hit. However the Beatles original ‘Mersey Beat’ style marked a departure from the American sound which had been so dominant. They were the most significant influence on the 1960’s music. Artists such as Buddy Holly influenced the Beatles.

Fashion was a big part of the early 60’s. Vidal Sassoon was a hairstylist who set new trends in hairstyling. Carnaby Street was famous for all the fashion stores. All the latest designers were seen on the street. Camden was also famous for shopping. London was the centre of fashion in the world. Mini skirts were a must have with the ladies.

Television also changed during this time. More and more people were buying televisions as the consumer boom rose. It was beginning to become a fashion accessory. Television was one of the main things Britain could enjoy. Steptoe and Son was one of their favourites.

As an economy, Britain was suffering from the after war affects. All the bombing had ruined Britain’s buildings in the major cities especially London. This was slowly coming to an end as more people were beginning to spend more money on consumer goods such as cars and televisions.

In conclusion the early part of the 1960’s was a time of radical change in Britain. Society developed from coping with the war to new trends across the country.


Why did groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones have such great impact during the 1960’s?

Introduction to the bands

The Beatles and Rolling Stones changed the face of the international music scene during the 1960’s. Both bands are famous for their American style rock-n-roll music influenced by artists such as Buddy Holly and Little Richard. The Beatles styled their songs in Tin Pan Alley, an American tradition of popular music songwriting that peaked in the 1920s and 1930s.The Rolling Stones however had a more rough sound compared to the Beatles soft sound.

There were a few factors in why the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were famous during the 1960’s.

The first factor in which the Beatles were big in the sixties was the element of the condition of social well being at the time. In this I mean the end of the fifties austerity (harshness). Following the end of the war, there was a so-called ‘baby boom,’ during which time soldiers who had returned from the war to their wives’ had had babies in which time, had grown up into becoming teenagers. As a result of this, there came a number of bands that were to be bigger than before because of the increased number of records sold.

There had been an economic boom during the 1960’s and a number of consumer booms as a result of tax cuts. The main point to think about during this period is that if either group had come around during another period such as the 40’s or 50’s, would they have had the same success as they did during the 1960’s. My answer to this is probably not. The reason for my answer is that in during the decades before the 60’s, there was a war and the public was getting back to normal life. The two groups came around in the right period to establish themselves as the groups of the 60’s respectively.

The other factor that played a part in the Beatles and the Rolling Stones being famous in the 1960’s was became a tendency to be part of a political party. The bands and musicians then lived off this and their songs and lyrics became more politically aimed, and therefore more tempting to their fans.

The final factor is the economic boom. The economic boom was the root of everything that made the 1960’s great not in the least the Beatles and the Rolling stones. As an example, the economy boom made it possible for companies to carry out research, and clearly because of the economy boom, natural resources were less expensive. The use of the new equipment such as radios and record players also gives us a view into why the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were popular during the 1960’s.

In conclusion there were many reasons why the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were popular during the 1960’s, the main factor was of course the economic boom but still, the thing that was particular about this was that all of the factors came together during one time which made the Beatles and the Rolling Stones the biggest and the best bands respectively.

Question 3

To some people the 1960’s were the best of times, to others it was a period a period when many things went wrong in society. Why do people have such different ideas about the 1960’s?

During any period in history, people will have their own views on whether it was a good or bad time; this all depends on their personal circumstances. There are two sides to the 1960’s, a positive side and a negative side.

I will firstly refer to the positive side of the 1960’s, with education. During the 1950’s there was a ‘baby boom.’ These babies would eventually turn grow up into becoming teenagers in need of an education, which the government had to act to. They created York, Lancaster, Canterbury, and Norwich universities, which doubled the amount of places available. As well as higher education being improved, there was also the introduction of comprehensive schools, which were a part of the 6,000 new schools altogether. The final change in education during the 1960’s was raising the leaving age of students from fifteen to sixteen.

Another positive taken out of the 1960’s were the fashion and music trends. Fashion and music alone gave out positive vibes and freedom to the youth.

The Beatles original ‘Mersey Beat’ style marked an exit from the American sound which had been so dominant. They were the most significant influence on the 1960’s music. Artists such as Buddy Holly influenced the Beatles.

Fashion was a big part of the 1960’s with fun and wacky hairstyles and clothing. Carnaby Street and Kings Road were at the centre of fashion in London with all the latest trends in the shops.

Due to the economic boom in the 1960’s, there was a rise in the standard of living, where, because people were being paid more than they previously had been, they were able to spend more money on household appliances such as holidays, cars and generally improve the quality of life.

Protesting played a big part in why the 1960’s were positive, as it showed a hunger for the power to fight for their rights. As a result there was ‘the womans liberation’ movement, which lead to the legalisation of abortion in 1967, ‘The Pill’ became available as another form of contraception, and there was the divorce reform. Apart from all of these successes, there were still many more laws overturned due to displays of opinion and public interest.

There were then certain moral issues that had previously been kept out of books and films so as not to poison the minds of the readers or watcher. This however, changed around with the liberation of the censorship laws. The race relations act was also started up which was aimed at transforming Britain into a more tolerant place, this was because the government now had a new humanitarian outset about it, which meant more equal opportunities.

But the sixties were obviously, not all about changes for the better. The new laws, and outlooks on moral responsibility, brought along angry protesters who were not happy with the decisions that had been made. Most notably, the race issue, which had been meant to bring about harmony and equal opportunity between the different cultures of Britain, caused the National Front to start up its new political party. The out break of all the people who had won the government over with their protesting, had a more peace orientated ‘feel good’ aura about themselves. This lead to the ‘Hippy’ movement and illegal drug taking. Apart from all of these factors there was still the beginning of terrorism in Britain due to the still ongoing dispute over whether Northern Ireland should be part of the Republic of Ireland or the United Kingdom. This lead to the start of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), whose main source of persuasion was terrorism, usually signified with bombing.

In conclusion, my view is that the 1960’s was a positive decade, I feel that it was what Britain needed after almost twenty years of hardship, and it has also gone down in history for being one of the most debatable times, with laws being over- turned and made, but on the whole I believe most of the decisions made by the governments were the correct ones. The 1960’s also brought about improvements in living standards due to the economic recovery, welfare and improvement of education.

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