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The Beat Generation: Changes in Attitude

Updated on November 8, 2012

Female Beatnik


Movie: High School Confidential - Beatnik Poem Recital

The Beats

Beat Atlas: A State by State Guide to the Beat Generation in America
Beat Atlas: A State by State Guide to the Beat Generation in America

The venues of famous Beats in different states and historical facts concerning the beat generation.


Beat Generation Documentary

The Beats: Beatniks

When the beat generation cropped up things were more stable and standardized in America. There was a certain stability that is now lost. The beats were the first generation to feel stifled by the American scene of father goes to work and mother stays home and raises the children, cooks meals, and so forth. The hippies were a further reflection of this attitude and of the whole experimental generation concept.

Looking back and having grown up during the fifties and sixties and seeing how our culture has been degraded in many respects, I wonder if a little stifling is always a bad thing. Many people didn't consider this lifestyle as stifling. Of course, there were many other teenagers and young adults in the fifties that never played a part in the beat generation.

During the era of the beats TV was still mostly in black and white. By 1951 the America public had bought 10.5 million black and white televisions and there were few color movies. There weren't any sub-woofers, but stereo had moved from low-fidelity to hi-fidelity. This all occurred on the tails of the Second World War (1939-1945). There was a definite gap in thinking between the generation that served in that war and the beats.

As far as the women working at home, many of them had just finished a stint during the war as basically Rosie the Riveter doing many of the jobs that had to be filled by women because so many men had gone to war. When the men came back and filled these job slots again the women mostly went back home. Some were glad and some weren't.

The beat generation had a different attitude about World War II and materialism. They began this anti-establishment thinking and the hippies actually went further with the concept and drew more young people into the lifestyle than did the beats. It was also a literary movement and that was the main vehicle for spreading the philosophy of the beats. In 1948, Jack Kerouac coined the phrase "the beat generation." He made a comparison from his social circle of writers, poets, and artists in New York to the groups of young people that met in the city that were the first anti-establishment convocation. He called these young people the beat generation.

Do I think that the beats changed attitudes by themselves? No. They influenced some young people, and hippies were an outcrop from the beatniks. But when we try new ideas, many times the bad comes with the good.


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    • Deltachord profile image

      Deltachord 6 years ago from United States

      Thanks Delores for your thoughtful comments.

      Personally, I enjoy nature, creativity, and have an interest in other cultures and history.

      There were some good things that came from the Beat generation such as creativity.

      Thanks again for expressing your view.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      The original hippies were not a bunch of lazy, dirty, drug addled jerks, but professional people who were of an anti-materialistic bent who embraced a sort of Bohemian lifestyle involving creativity, an interest in other cultures, and nature. But the media jumped in and popularized the movement, making it attractive for the rest.

      Like you, I can sure see how the life of the suburban folks of the 50's and 60's came about. After the horrible war, people just wanted to live simply, raise their kids, and have cookouts. Women could afford to stay at home with their children as men were able to earn enough to support a family. Thanks to the GI Bill, young men returning from war could afford college, and then afford homes. Those people who were raised during the Depression, and lived through World War II must have been thrilled to live a quiet life, and appreciative of their material gains.

    • Deltachord profile image

      Deltachord 8 years ago from United States

      Thanks James. Yes, I was a hippy too. The beatnik generation was my older brothers era, though he wasn't a beatnik, but into motorcycles. I agree, there was something magical about it.

      I appreciate that, Don. I think you're a good guy too.

      Your welcome, Larry. Thanks for the info. I'll check out blip.

    • Larry Lathrop profile image

      Larry Lathrop 8 years ago from Maryland

      Thank you for asking. I remember some of the music fondly. Twitter has an interesting and amusing music toy called can indulge your DJ fantasies there: It can be fun and a portal to the past

      @HiLarryous: "****Cathy's Clown* by The Everly Brothers- pure harmony" ?

    • dkrainwater profile image

      dkrainwater 8 years ago from Sheridan, Wyoming

      Great topic, I grew up in the seventies. Bad drugs and Disco, not a good combination. But I feel I turned out okay

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Good topic and well written. I enjoyed reading your Page today.

      I was a hippie once.  The music was what I liked the most about that time.  I used to hang out in Olde Town Chicago and it was magical.  Pop art, love beads, incense, head shops, psychedelic music and hippies all around. 

      The generation before had to contend with The Great Depression and World War. They didn't have time for nonsense.  They had real living to do.  My generation had time, money and freedom.  The freedom to be fools. 

    • Deltachord profile image

      Deltachord 8 years ago from United States

      Hi Larry, glad you expressed your thoughts on the subject. I understand how you feel. Did you find that you liked anything about it like some of the music, books or art?

    • Larry Lathrop profile image

      Larry Lathrop 8 years ago from Maryland

      I grew up in that sub-culture too, drugs and free love was a big part of it and just about everyone was affected.The so called freedom from convention that they offered was just another form of bondage and I left it more dissolutioned than when I came.