Postwar America during the 1950’s and 1960’s consisted of many social movements that helped find resolutions to all the occurring problems in society. During this time period, it consisted of the affluent society. The affluent society was the aftermath of the war and started urbanization in cities. The 1960’s specifically consisted of many social movements that contributed to changing ways of society dealing with gender, race, freedom of speech, and environmental issues. In the affluent society, people were complacent with the thought of finding convenient ways to deal with problems. The 1960’s consisted of many movements with people trying to find solutions and fight for equal rights in society. The book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson has connections to the situations appearing in postwar America during the affluent society and the 1960’s. The book shows relations to the affluent society and 1960’s because Rachel Carson talks about the extreme amount of chemicals being put into the society through pesticides and the effects they have on our resources and even our own human species.
The affluent society started with the period known as the ‘Golden Age” this period had ‘economic expansion, stable prices, low unemployment, and rising of the standards of living.” Due to economic expansion and low unemployment causes people to obtain more money and be able to afford more advanced items. People are becoming more wealthy causes an increase in movement to the cities. Due to the increased populations of people wanting to reside in houses near the cities causes ‘residential construction” for the suburbs. Since many people wanted to move closer to the cities this caused construction in the cropland in the outskirts of the cities. For example ‘1,200 acres of potato fields” were used for development of suburban neighborhoods near New York City.4 Rachel Carson states in her book that ‘there once was a town in America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its society… (with) prosperous farms (and) fields of grain” this town Carson describes appeared before the aftermath of urbanization. Due to urbanization increasing and houses being built in neighborhoods people had yards that they were hoping to maintain.
Neighborhoods being built on old croplands means that these landscapes consisted of previous bugs in the environment and possibly pesticides. These pests and bugs are appearing when people move in and since they can afford things such as pesticide people feel obligated to buy it. They purchase these chemicals due to it being convenient to just spray and the insects populations decrease instantly. It is amusing that during this time period there were pesticides before man-made pesticides came around but, due to the pesticides being man-made they seemed to be more popular in societies. The creation of these insecticides was tremendously increased from ‘259,000 pounds in 1947 to 637,666,000 pounds in 1960″ and these products totaled ‘well over a quarter of a billion dollars” in sales of these chemicals. These chemicals were also booming in sale productions because during this time advertisements were being promoted more due to the creation of the television. We can conclude that during the affluent society that the creation of pesticides such as Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane was popular in the society due to the blossoming of urbanization and the convenience these chemicals brought to people with maintaining their landscapes from pest and bug invasions.
The 1960’s was a time period that consisted of many social movements during the era. These social movements were put in place to fight for equality for genders, the right of awareness, and the right for a better environment. Women during this time started to rebel and fight for their civil rights as females. Women were treated unfairly due to the stereotype of them only being able to do domestic work. Since women were discriminated and received lower wages because of their gender, this brought up awareness of ‘discrimination … working women (experienced)”9. Rachel Carson experienced these discriminations as well due to her creating this book which, brought up awareness that people and scientist did not think about. In the PBS documentary, we can see the numerous amounts of articles printed in newspapers arguing that Carson was wrong. One of the articles written during this time periods title was pictured in the documentary the title was ‘Chemists Say Author Wrong on Pesticides” we can see that many other scientists were reluctant to let people believe Rachel Carson was correct.10 Women not being treated fairly was present because Rachel Carson during this time period experienced many negative comments and people tend to not believe that she was right especially other scientists. There was a bias present due to her being a female and in the documentary, scientist says Carson is just an ’emotional hysterical woman” and the belief that women cannot be a scientist was present.10 Many scientist were jealous of the fact that Rachel Carson wrote this book was scientifically correct and that it was one of the best sellers during this era.10 Rachel Carson felt the need to be repetitive in this book most likely due to the fact that she was often ignored or told she was incorrect due to the bias against women.
Another movement that took place during this time period was the Environmentalism and the Consumer Movement. These movements were created due to the increase of populations in cities and due to the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Rachel Carson started this social movement due to the scientific knowledge she expressed in the novel. She starts off the book expressing how we are the creators of this chemicals and we have input them in what was once our perfect society. 5 She mentions how our water, soil, and plants are affected with the spraying of these pesticides, she states that ‘ (all three of these resources) make up the world that supports the animal life of the earth”. Her mentioning that these resources help support the lives of animals and potentially us causes awareness that when these sources are affected they cause ‘… direct killing of birds, mammals, fishes and indeed practically every form of wildlife…”. This caused many organizations that support the environment to become popular and they began to fight for the banning of these poisonous chemicals.11 The rise of popularity of this book and the numerous amounts of people fighting to ban the use of DDT caused the creations of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and the Endangered Species Act.
Overall the affluent society used these pesticides due to the convenience they brought to households and maintain landscapes. The 1960’s consisting of these movements brought up important problems the society had during the time with women being treated unfairly and the environmental issues. These two periods helped contribute to the influence of the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson during postwar America due to people wanting the easy way out of things, women being treated unfairly due to stereotypes, and the environmental issues that were brought up to start the Environmentalism and the Consumer Movement.