America in the Seventies
Sales Date: June 21, 2004
256 Pages, 6.13 x 9.25 in
- Published: June 2004
- Published: September 2019
Tucked between the activist Sixties and the conservative Eighties lies a largely misunderstood and still under-appreciated decade. Now nine leading scholars of postwar America offer a revealing look at the Seventies and their rightful place in the epic narrative of American history
This is the first major work to relate the economic decline and cultural despair of the Seventies to the creative efforts that would reshape American society. Dogged by economic and political crises at home and foreign policy failures abroad, Americans responded to a growing sense of uncertainty in a variety of ways. Some explored the new freedoms promised by the social change movements of the late Sixties. Some challenged the technological verities that ruled corporate America. Others sought to create autonomous zones in the ruins of decaying cities or on the bleak landscape of anomic suburbia. And, against a backdrop of massive economic dislocation and bicentennial celebrations, many Americans struggled to redefine patriotism and the meaning of the American dream.
Focusing on how Americans made sense of their changing world by analyzing such sources as film, popular music, use of public space, advertising campaigns, and patriot rituals, these essays interweave the themes of economic transformation, identity reconfiguration, and cultural uncertainty. The contributors cover such topics as the public’s increasing mistrust of government, the reshaping of working-class identity, and the tensions between the ideological and economic origins of changing gender roles.
From existential despair in popular culture to the reactions of youth subcultures, these provocative articles plot the lives of Americans struggling to redefine themselves as their nation moved into an uncertain future. Together they recapture the essence and spirit of that era—for those who lived it and for curious readers who have come of age since then and struggle to understand their own time.
"This is not only an excellent book for an upper level course on contemporary United States or American social cultural history, but also a freshman level survey."—H-Net Reviews
“It was an age of limits and an age of excess. . . . A time of high drama in which sexual liberationists and Gospel Hour devotees, Mohawked punks and disco dancers, furious displaced steel workers and new women professionals, Sunbelt and Rustbelt, white ethnics and people of color, all struggled to define America and to secure a future on a shifting cultural and economic ground.”—from the Introduction
“Bailey and Farber, both brilliant and original historians, have taken a fresh and revealing look at a neglected and misunderstood decade. The remarkable essays they have assembled show that the 1970s were in some ways even more important than the preceding 'age of great dreams.'”—Chester Pach, author of Arming the Free World
Introduction, Beth Bailey and David Farber
1. The Torch Had Fallen, David Farber
2. “It Makes You Want to Believe In the Country”: Celebrating the Bicentennial in an Age of Limits, Christopher Capozzola
3. Affirming and Disaffirming Actions: Remaking Race in the 1970s, Eric Porter
4. “Vigorously Left, Right, and Center”: The Crosscurrents of Working-Class America in the 1970s, Jefferson Cowie
5. She “Can Bring Home the Bacon”: Negotiating Gender in the 1970s, Beth Bailey
6. “Adults Only”: The Construction of an Erotic City in New York during the 1970s, Peter Braunstein
7. America’s Poseiden Adventure: A Nation in Existential Despair, William Graebner
8. Cutbacks: Skate and Punk at the Far End of the American Century, Michael Nevin Willard
9. Culture, Technology, and the Cult of Tech in the 1970s, Tim Moy