How appropriate is the term ‘cultural revolution’ to describe the events of ‘the long sixties’. (c. 1958 – c. 1974). This discussion is with the use of three disciplines represented in Block 6: History, History of Science and Religious Studies. Discussion about changes in ideas and values: people’s attitudes and behaviour, views of authority, race, family and personal relationships. iArthur Marwick discusses the definition of the ‘cultural revolution’ that took place in ‘the Sixties’ as one that did not take on the form of a political or economic revolution.
In iiEric Hobsbawn’s book Age of Extremes he structured the twentieth century into three periods, where ‘the Sixties’ was incorporated in ‘the Golden Age’ (1945 – 1973). iiiArthur Marwick, a historian, further periodized ‘the Sixties’ from 1958 – 1973. However ‘the Sixties’ was not a worldwide phenomena, because it mainly happened in the United States, the United Kingdom and areas of Europe. Eastern Europe, Africa and much of Asia more than likely were not affected.
To understand whether a cultural revolution did take place or not we need to understand – “what caused ‘the Sixties’? ” It was a period of extensive change in people’s values and ideas to name but one area. Extracts from iv’Mini-Renaissance’ reveal that ‘Young people suddenly had an important voice; they were being listened to, followed even… ‘ vJim Haynes, a leading figure in ‘counter-cultural’ activities explained that ‘What we were doing in the colourful clothes and long hair in the sixties was telling everybody that we were tolerant, we were all having fun…
‘ After the Second World War everyone had high hopes of a social change, where issues like Civil Rights for black Americans would improve. However these hopes were thwarted as was pointed out in viMartin Luther King’s letter, ‘… but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative… ‘ Very many movements we associate with ‘the Sixties’ were born out of this dammed up frustration from the nineteen fifties.
And who were the protestors? There was a ‘baby boom’ after World War Two so by the nineteen sixties there was a large presence of affluent teenagers in America. It would appear that the majority of these young people became the protestors. Daring films in the cinemas sanctioned their daring behaviour. Further ‘liberated behaviour’ was increased by the taking of the Pill where formally there was constraint. Many questions were raised in ‘the Sixties’ and one important one was the role of women.
viiBetty Friedan explained that, ‘When women do not need to live through their husbands and children, men will not fear the love and strength of women… ‘ This discontent which women faced during the fifties was to undergo some serious changes during ‘the Sixties’. Why were there so few women in science? Yet another question women were asking in ‘the Sixties’. A viiisurvey published in 1965 gave figures for the percentage of women employed in various fields of science and engineering. The startling find was that only about 10% of people working in science were women.
Many women asked why they should not be able to participate as actively as men did. Their frustrations were heightened by the knowledge that even if they were highly skilled, it would be extremely difficult for them to remain active members of the scientific workforce. This was due to the fact that a) they would probably leave because of pregnancy and b) after World War Two the United States government laid great stress on women’s domestic role in order to encourage them to stay at home, (so that men could take up their place again in the workforce).
This stigma was carried over into to the workplace where as was discussed in an article for ixWomen’s Group from Science for the people magazine, ‘they were limited by being placed in subordinate positions, rarely being given their own labs or xfirst authorship on papers, and the most glaring inequity, being paid less than their male counterparts for equal work. ‘ It was also argued that women see the world differently from men. In the nineteen sixties no women graduated from university with a doctorate in Primatology at all.
Through the influence of the feminist movements during this time however by the nineteen nineties the tables had turned. Many women entering the field have insisted that the analysis of the primates was male bias. It was thought that male monkeys were the dominant ones and therefore man concluded that he was rightfully the superior person and his counterpart subservient. Careful research has shown that anything a male can do a female can do too. Jeanne Altman in her studies was struck by the ability of the female primate to be able to do several things at once.