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> Chapter 42 > Prepare for Class
Prepare For Class

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Chapter Summary


In the 1980s and 1990s, the American culture and economy underwent dynamic changes from an age of heavy industry to an age of computerized information and mass culture. Science and education increasingly drove the new forms of wealth, and growth of new media and the Internet helped fuel a new economy linked with the rest of the world. The benefits of the new wealth did not reach everyone, however, as the gaps between those with education and those without contributed to an increasingly severe inequality in Americans wealth and income.

The decades-long movement into the workforce of women, including mothers of young children, opened ever-wider doors of opportunity, and contributed to changes in mens roles as well as in family life. Womens concern for issues of health and child care created a persistent political gender gap between Democrats and Republicans in national elections. With fewer families being formed, and fewer children being born to native-born Americans, the population began to age and the elderly became a potent lobbying force.

A vast new wave of immigration, especially from Asia and Latin America, brought newcomers seeking economic opportunity and liberties unavailable in their homelands. Hispanics, Asians, and Indians all asserted their own identity and pride, and made areas like the American Southwest a bi-cultural zone.

The problems of poverty, increasingly concentrated in inner cities ringed by affluent suburbs, remained stubborn and frustrating to millions of Americans, including many minorities. The African American community made great strides in education, politics, and other areas, but there was a growing gap between the upwardly mobile and those left behind. Americas cities were plagued by problems of drugs and crime, but the soaring crime rates of the 1980s were reversed and turned downward in the 1990s. In the same decade many cities began to show signs of renewal.

American culture remained incredibly dynamic and inventive, both in high culture and pop culture. The new voices of westerners, women, African Americans, Asians, and others were increasingly influential and popular, contributing to the variety, energy, and humor of U.S. society. Beginning with the postwar abstract expressionist movement in New York City, American visual arts and architecture also led worldwide revolutions in taste and transformed the nature of urban life.

America was born a revolutionary force in the world. In the twentieth century it became more conservative in a world swept by global change. Yet the powerful values of American democracy presented persistent challenges to Americans to live up to their high ideals as the last, best hope on earth.



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