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Flashcards in Key Features of 1970s America Deck (9)
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Mass Production

The process through which consumer goods are produced in larger quantities quicker and more efficiently which in turn results in reduction in prices. The assembly line method, in which each factory worker is responsible for a small and specific role in the production process, helped streamline mass production. The best example of this Henry Ford and his Model T car.


Technological Advances

The first 20 years of the 20th century saw huge technological advances in industry. Factories became automated. Machines and other improved manufacturing techniques meant that huge amounts of goods could be made at a fraction of the cost. In the decade of the 1920s economic output increased by a staggering 50%. Technological advances also impacted the consumer goods that were produced, such as cars and refrigerators.


The Automobile

The automobile was seen to be central to the economic boom of the 1920s. By using the assembly line method to streamline and support mass production. Ford’s Model T helped transform mass production and working conditions. By 1926, Ford was producing a car every 10 seconds, and by 1929 the car industry employed 7% of all industrial workers. Indirectly the motor car manufacturing was also responsible for road building and improvement, and employment within feeder industries creating thousands of jobs in steel, rubber, paint and electrical industries. Car ownership meant greater freedom for families to relocate to the suburbs and go on vacation.


Hire Purchase

Consumers could buy goods by paying a percentage of the items cost upfront, and then paying the balance plus a small interest charge in either weekly or monthly instalments. This meant that expensive and luxury goods became more affordable for Americans. 1929, almost $7 billion worth of goods were sold using credit including 75% of cars and 50% of major household appliances.



From the french to “let be”, laissez-faire is a passive approach by a government to not interfere in the economy or lives of its people. Republican Presidents were in office from 1921 to 1933. They followed a policy of laissez faire, meaning that the government interfered as little as possible in the running of the economy. Instead, they believed that business should get on with the process of creating wealth. The government helped in this by keeping taxes as low as possible. This had the dual purpose of allowing businesses to invest more money to expand their operations and giving consumers more money in their pockets to keep spending.



The industrial prosperity was not matched in farming. After WW1 the demand for produce dropped therefore decreasing prices and leading to overproduction of goods. Policies such as Prohibition also saw a decrease in demand for grain.



America as a nation was created based on an immigrant labour force. However this did not prevent America of the 20th century becoming more entrenched in anti-immigration and white supremacist rhetoric. Although the US welcomed immigrants from northern Europe, many Americans were worried that waves of immigrants from ‘undesirable’ areas, especially eastern Europe and Asia, would result in the destruction of the traditions, culture and beliefs of white America, and the possible creation of a ‘mongrel’ race. This fear resulted in changing attitudes towards immigrants and Federa;l government legislation aimed at addressing issues of concern.


The 'Red Scare'

The rounding up and deportation of several hundred immigrants of radical political views by the federal government in 1919 and 1920. This “scare” was caused by fears of subversion by communists in the United States after the Russian Revolution of 1917.


The Ku Klux Klan

An organisation that promoted white supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon Protestant peoples of America.The Klan gained substantial support in the Mid-West and ex slave areas of the Southern states, attracting 100,000 followers by 1921. The Klan opposed non-white ethnic minorities, Jews, Catholics and other foreigners along with anything connected with non-Anglo-Saxon traditions and culture such as jazz music. The Klan gave many Americans a sense of self-importance. They used a secret language, hoods and cloaks to disguise their identity, along with burning crosses and violence to instil fear and intimidation. Victims of the violent methods used by the Klan could be tarred and feathered, beaten, branded and even lynched all without access to a trial. At its height there were 4 million members.