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The Rise Of The Teenager Essay

1446 words - 6 pages

Examine the rise of the "˜teenager' during the 1950s and 1960s and discuss the material culture associated with this emerging section of the population."The "˜culture' of a group or class is the peculiar and distinctive "˜way of life' of the group or class, the meanings, values and ideas embodied in the institutions, in social relations, in systems of beliefs, in mores and customs, in the uses of objects and material life. Culture is the distinctive shapes in which this material and social organisation of life expresses itself." (Clarke et al.1991) This essay examines the lifestyle of the young in their different groups and subcultures and what effect this had on the ...view middle of the document...

Never before had the young enjoyed the purchasing power to assert themselves in economic terms. The "˜teenager' is defined as, "post-school but pre-responsibility" (Whiteley, 1987). In 1959 80% of British teenagers were at work, most had no family to support and lived with their parents so they could afford to spend their money on clothes, records, alcohol, cigarettes and transport. The teenager's buying power became recognised and so the fashion markets opened up to them.Teenagers wanted fashionable and up to date clothes. Paris was the haute couture capital of the world but young clothes in the 50s were scaled down versions of adult fashions. Fashion began to change as teenagers grew in confidence and affluence. No longer were the aristocracy or Paris fashion houses providing the ideas. Film and pop stars became the trendsetters, other ideas came from the teenagers themselves and fashion started from the street and worked upwards. Young people no longer wanted to dress like their parents. It was the beginning of existentialism. They were looking to express something different from the society they knew, and music and fashion became the emblems of their time."The teenager was fashion. After the war there was a new generation that had a very different sense of itself. It no longer wanted to behave like its mother." (McLaren, Undressed.) Mary Quant, a young designer saw the need for creativity and youth. In 1955 she opened a small boutique called "Bazaar" on Kings Road, based on the type of clothes that art students were wearing. At first the Chelsea look was confined to London but it wasn't long before the new innovative style became an epidemic amongst the young. Quant's designs, such as the mini skirt, suited the mood of the time."The clothes I made happened to fit in exactly with the teenage trend, with pop records and espresso bars"¦"(Quant,Undressed.).Fashion was youth's major means of expression, the 50s and 60s distinctive style of dress and rock music created a unique younger generation."It was about feeding a new generation, now with money, who wanted a style of their own. And that style in some way had to embrace the style and interest of the generation that was primarily feeling it might just take control of the world's culture." (McLaren, Undressed.) Pre Rock n Roll dress was used then, as now, as a complex code of social identification, to create a sense of belonging. Singers and musicians wore suits and dresses much like their audience, there was no marketing plan in this. Every man wore a suit; every woman wore a dress. Then a new form of music changed the teenagers' world"¦ The advent of rock "˜n' roll fitted youth's new mood perfectly, it was energetic, zany, and sexual and parents hated it. From the 50s through to the 70s rock and fashion lived side by side. At this time commercial television in Britain was born. It was a time of mass communications, mass entertainment, mass art and mass culture all...

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