Research Paper on Morality Shift Over Time in American Culture and Society

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1709 Words
Date:  2022-03-27


Morality refers to the standards that are generally accepted as either being right or wrong. These standards are set based on people's culture, religion, particular philosophy or other values that people believe that are supposed to be universal. Morality is a concept usually covers a wide range of behaviors and practices such as how to dress, how to treat others and how to conduct religious rituals among others. In the United States, morality has shifted due to the essence of cultural and believes the change that gradually becomes accepted among most of the people. Although morality change is a common phenomenon in all societies, the shift that has been experienced in American society can be attributed to the adoption of the trending occurrences which end up replacing the older beliefs.

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A change in the mode of dressing is one of the things that has shifted the essence of morality in American society. Over the years, change in fashion is one of the things that has been very much dynamics. Due to vigorous change in the mode of dressing, the values that are attached to the generally accepted mode of dressing has also changed. For example, in the 18th century, cloths that exposed certain parts of the body such as thighs and stomachs were perceived as lacking morals especially in the female gender (Choi, Chong, and Ron 313). Females were expected to wear clothes that would completely cover their so-called private parts. However, this is not the case in today's society. People have adopted a mode of dressing that exposes these parts of the body and they are still perceived as being in line with the expected dressing values (Arnold 65). As new clothing fashions become generally accepted, the values related to them such as the extent to which they cover the body also become accepted and hence morality shift.

The celebrities have had an impact on the morality shift related to lifestyle and fashion. According to Arnold (69), celebrities such as artists, politicians, and religious leaders have had an impact as far as the changing of fashion is concerned. People are more likely to copy the dressing mode of the famous figure in society. Celebrities act as role models in society. As such, they tend to dictate the type of fashion that will be adopted by a larger group of people in society. If a certain fashion is adopted by a greater number of people in society, it falls that most of the people also perceive the values connected to such a fashion as being moral. The kind of fashion that the celebrities are warring become the trending mode of clothing and people feels more decent in those clothes regardless of how well it adheres to the traditional mode of dressing. With time, the old values are forgotten and the new ones that are in line with the new fashions adopted.

The trending issues do not only affect the morality related to dressing mode rather it also applies to other behaviors. Behavioral change is more related to the cultural shift where people forget their traditional beliefs and adopt newer values more liberally. The aspect of sexuality and the values connected to it is one of the areas that have witnessed a dramatic shift in American society. New values relating to sexual orientation have emerged corrupting traditional values. In traditional American society, the sexual relationship between a male and a female is the only type of relationship that was perceived as being morally upright. Any sexual relationship between individuals of the same sex was perceived as immoral and a violation of marriage values. However, this type of morality has shifted in the 21st century. Aspects such as gay marriages and lesbianism have become generally accepted in the United States culture. No one perceives these practices as heathen as they were viewed in the historical moral lens. Today, the greatest number of people are advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians which shows that they hold such behaviors as being morally accepted (Brewer 1280).

Similar to the essence of clothing, the shift of morality concerning cultural change can also be accounted for the adoption of the trending issues. In the same way, celebrities determine the trending fashions, they also influence the trending behaviors. Hyde (112) asserted that gay marriages and lesbianism had remained unpopular practices until they were adopted by celebrities. People had perceived such practices as corrupting the moral values and those who were engaging in it were looked down upon. However, the trend started changing when it was adopted even by famous figures such as politicians and artists. Today, gay and lesbianism are being perceived as a behavior for the more civilized people in society just because the famous figure is more than ever practicing it and they are always perceived as being the more civilized especially the artists.

The essence of the trending issues has also created a morality shift in matters related to religious practices. Since American society is also made up of a diversified society, it also has diverse religious beliefs and practices. Each religion has its moral values that are generally accepted by the members of a certain religion. However, the moral shift has also be witnessed in a distinct religious group. Focusing on Christianity as one of the religion, a value shift has been witnessed over the years. Traditionally, Christianity was perceived as a religion of only those who are born again in Crist which according to this religion is the concept of repenting all your sins and accepting Jesus as your savior. Only the born again were considered as brethren in Christianity. Relating to the sinners was perceived as heathen and non-acceptable in Christianity. However, this trend has changed. Today, Christianity is not perceived as only for the born again Christians (Wheeler, Melissa, Melanie and Nick 322). Besides, how people preach the gospel is also something that has shifted. While in the past it was perceived as immoral to preach the gospel if one if not a born again Christian, today non-born again people also preach the gospel and no one perceive it as being odd.

The value of religious practices is also shaped by trending practices in society. People who are famous in society shape on matters concerning religious with or without their knowledge. For example, in the recent past, secular music has become more connected to the Christianity gospel songs. Since the celebrities are the ones who are creating such occurrence, connecting secular songs with the gospel is gradually becoming accepted among most of the people in the society. A good example is Kanye West who is a secular artist. Recently, he has launched a gospel album "Jesus is King" with a combination of secular pop songs and hymns rewritten with Christianity gospel themes. While Kanye West is just an example of how religious moral values are shifting, a combination of secular songs with christen gospel has become something that is generally accepted as it is perceived as the best way of delivering the word of God to the youth (Brewer 111).

The generation change is what makes the shift in the immorality shift. In most of the cases, the trending issues that come as a result of the celebrities are easily adopted by the youth. The older generation is always reluctant to adopt new trending behaviors in society. As such, for a chance to completely become effective, a new generation that liberally accepts such change must be taken into consideration. A good example is the essence of acceptance of gay marriages and lesbianism in American society. The youths were the first people to accept that these forms of sexual orientation are morally upright. Frank (2015) analyzed the shift of acceptance of gay marriages and lesbianism in the United States in the last fourteen years. He found that in 2001 only 28% of the people aged 55 and above supported the gay and lesbian relationship. However, in 2015, this has shifted where 55% of people aged 55 and above were in support of these forms of relationship. This implies that the young generation adopts certain values and maintain them even as they grow old. As such, as the old generation which does not endorse certain moral shift to become nonexistent, a shift becomes acceptable to the next generation.


Even though change is inevitable, the morality shift that has been witnessed in the United States can be accounted to readily adoption of new trending values from the celebrities. Change in fashions is among the practice that has corrupted the traditional mode of dressing and the values related to it. while in the past people would judge a mode of dressing on how well it fulfills the expected standard such as covering the so-called private parts, today people are adopting the fashion that is trending regardless of how well it fulfills these values. People tend to copy the fashions adopted by famous figures. This leads to morality shift as people judge the clothes that are trending as having the best values which make the values found in the new fashions the accepted ones. This also occurs in the essence of cultural practices whereas the celebrities adopt behaviors such as lesbianism, the public also changes their perception about such behaviors being immoral. The practices of religion where religion and secular practices become more connected have also been shifted by the same aspect of copying famous figures. As it may, the younger generations are more prone to adopting new practices and beliefs and hence a shift in morality only occurs fully in a change of a generation.

Works Cited

Arnold, Rebecca. Fashion, desire, and anxiety: image and morality in the 20th century. IB Tauris, 2015.

Brewer, Paul R. "The shifting foundations of public opinion about gay rights." The Journal of Politics 65.4 (2016): 1208-1220.

Choi, Chong Ju, and Ron Berger. "Ethics of celebrities and their increasing influence in 21st-century society." Journal of business ethics 91.3 (2010): 313-318.

Frank, Newport. "Five Things We've Learned About Americans and Moral Values.", 8 June 2015,

Hyde, Marina. Celebrity: How entertainers took over the world and why we need an exit strategy. Random House, 2017.

Wheeler, Melissa A., Melanie J. McGrath, and Nick Haslam. "Twentieth-century morality: The rise and fall of moral concepts from 1900 to 2007." PloS one 14.2 (2019):

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