Beginning with an analysis of cultural themes and ending with a discussion of evolving and expanding political and corporate institutions, The Columbia History of Post-World War II America addresses changes in America's response to the outside world; the merging of psychological states and social patterns in memorial culture, scandal culture, and consumer culture; the intersection of social practices and governmental policies; the effect of technological change on society and politics; and the intersection of changing belief systems and technological development, among other issues.
Many had feared that Orwellian institutions would crush the individual in the postwar era, but a major theme of this book is the persistence of individuality and diversity. Trends toward institutional bigness and standardization have coexisted with and sometimes have given rise to a countervailing pattern of individualized expression and consumption. Today Americans are exposed to more kinds of images and music, choose from an infinite variety of products, and have a wide range of options in terms of social and sexual arrangements. In short, they enjoy more ways to express their individuality despite the ascendancy of immense global corporations, and this volume imaginatively explores every facet of this unique American experience.