The 1960s was a period marked with significant changes in the structure of society and the way people perceive the youth. Originally the youth were supposed to follow the social norms, be obedient and live as per their wages. This level of life was dictated by society through the pricing of clothing to suit each group in the community. Dressing modestly and maintain a low social status was seen as a regular routine which the young people were expected to follow. However, during this period, there was a drastic change in which lead to a sudden shift in the way community perceived dressing and freedom of the youth. In this paper, a discussion on some of these changes during the 1960s will be made, giving some of its implications and how it led to the culture we see today.
Where It All Started
In the year 1964, news reports a clash between two groups, Mods and Rockers. This news about gangster groups of hooligan youth who were roaming the streets and terrorizing society spread like wildfire. However, we can stop and ask, where did they come from? What defines them? And what was the cause of this conflict? During this time after the fifties, Britain was free from wars, and the economy was booming. The opportunity to grow was significant in various aspects of the community, and people were gaining more money, and the production industry proliferating (Stuart, 2016). The children born during the wartime were now young teens who were yet to see a peaceful era of living without the worry of safety and being attacked by enemy countries.
Mods and Rockers
The thriving economy improved the lives of the British people, with significant changes in the way of life. In all this, a few youths from the middle class were growing an urge for the fancy things only available to the rich. Vintage clothing with genuine care for details was rather expensive and meant they could not manage the cost of the garment. Nonetheless, the price was not about to deter them from getting what they wanted. A report by the BBC on the subject revealed that some of the youth went ahead to develop their designs and sew them. Fashion became a particular part of the lives of these youth, and they called themselves the Modernists or Mods as they would later be known.
On the other end was a group of youth who never had a focus on fashion but instead developed a massive interest in motorcycles, speed and music, especially rock and roll. The Rockers embrace the identity of living a manly lifestyle with little focus on fashion and fancy stuff. To them, life is about having a fast racing bike, living in solitary away from the circus of everyday life in the city centre. The everyday situations lead to a drift in the way the Rockers dress, and they develop a love for leather jackets and boots which were favourable for riding.
This contrast in the taste between the Mods and Rockers slowly drifts them apart. Existing in the same city then forces them to survive together in the same environment, this, however, could be the beginning of their foes. Each group believes it is the best and the battle for territory quickly develops. It is imperative to understand that while these groups were part of a society that did not support the violence among itself, the Mods and Rockers develop tension due to their immediate differences. The events of May 18 and 19, 1964 were just the affirmation of the already boiled up situation.
Where They Are Alone?
The same view of these two groups may derive the belief that these were the only subcultures at the time. On the contrary, besides the Mods and Rockers were the beatniks. The beatniks did not like a very distinctive dressing style but would be found dressing in full necks and short skirts. This group was clearly into the development of music, literature and poems rather than fashion. Through their enormous influence in music and lyrics, they were able to express their beliefs to society. Just like the Mods and Rockers, the beatniks revolutionized how freedom for youth decisions was perceived. They hugely believed that even though seen as young, the youth could decide what they wanted in life.
The Role of Media
The lives of the Mods and Rockers were simply youth in the streets with some different view of how life should be until they found its way to newspapers. Although not directly, the papers hugely affected how the two groups viewed their influence in society. Being at the limelight made the youth affirm their beliefs and went ahead to attract more attention than any other. Significantly, publications went ahead to defame these groups through publishing news which were either false or exaggerated. Having an altered view about the youth causes society to label them as unruly, looters and morally unstable child.
During the first conflict at the beach in 1964, newspapers painted the picture of youth who split a lot of blood in their unruly behaviour and gave them titles of criminals. The journals started associating events with cases of Mods and Rockers as "violent", there were even when these clashes did not involve any violent act. At the extremes, when the conflict between the two groups had died down, the news still faked events and associated them with the gangs.
Several of the arrests done in 1964 involving either Mods or Rockers were met with severe fines (Cohen, 2017). These huge fines ranging from several pounds made the line between the law enforcement and the groups even thicker. Members of these groups went ahead to post serious threats in society as they felt neglected and discriminated. Finning these teens did not change their perception of social structure but instead made them even more focused to revolutionize them. All this while, the more the youth made havoc, the media was there to write a story.
Significance of This Period
During this time, massive changes took place in society on how youth should be controlled and what limits are there to this. First, the period left a crucial lesson on how the adults should handle the younger generation when they have a point to express. It was an immediate failure in the part of the media to spread false or exaggerated information about a group of people in the community (Krinsky, 2016). They went ahead to develop fabricated information to taint the Mods and Rockers with the hope that these groups would be abolished. This later brought about the realization of a role played by the news outlets in developing a perception about a person.
Secondly, the youth were able to co-exist even with their differences. This is not to rule out the fact that they had severe fights which also led to injuries or death. But the ability to express ones' opinions should not be influenced by society (Barnes, 2016). If the perception of the youth had been positive and way made to rehabilitate them and hear out what they have to say, maybe the results would not have been so damaging. The changes in culture among a generation should not be met with such that can cause harm.
Lastly, this group brought ominous change to how culture is today through their revolutionizing ideas. It not only made the availability of fashion to the lower class but also made the affirmation that one can achieve what they set their heart to regardless of the situations. Though determination, the Mods achieved fashion and classy look, while their counterparts the Rockers get the lifestyle they want through biking irrespective of the view by society.
During this era, the change in fashion and music, the perception of the lives of youth drastically changed. It is worth saying that the presence of the Mods and the Rockers paved the way for the way youth help society see what they might be ignorant to address. This period showed the true colours of every aspect in the people, as each deployed their characters on the issue of the youth (Hier, 2019). It was also during this time that the subcultures in British society were loudly broadcasted. From London, the culture of the Mods and rocker spread. Secondly, this era also brought the people together and gave them the realization of the value of having a society that allows for the free sharing and development of ideas. It was through the Mods and Rockers culture that invisible law "youth should only be seen and not heard" was broken.
In conclusion, much can be learnt through the events of the 60's and cultural change. Embracing change through an open mind rather than with the preconceived idea may be the best option for society. Furthermore, having an honest news stream should be the aim of every culture through the development of ethics within the community. Instead, during such situations, the authority should not use the government resource to oppress those perceived to be going against the norms.
Barnes, R. (2016). Mods!. Plexus Publishing.
Cohen, S. (2017). Deviance and moral panics. In Cultural Criminology (pp. 29-46). Routledge.
Hier, S. P. (2019). Moral Panics.
Krinsky, C. (2016). PART I: DEFINING YOUTH AND YOUTH CULTURE Introduction to Part I. In Moral Panics over Contemporary Children and Youth (pp. 23-28). Routledge.
Stuart, J. (2016). Rockers!: Kings of the Road. Plexus Publishing.
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Research Paper on 1960s: Revolutionizing Youth & Social Norms. (2023, Feb 25). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/research-paper-on-1960s-revolutionizing-youth-social-norms
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