With their newfound spare time in the post-war era, many Americans join clubs and also started attending meetings that rapidly readjusted political parties in the unified States.

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Hugh Hefner arrives at the launch of City Nights Playboy Menswear collection at Bloomingdales top top October 17th, 2007, in Century City, California.

(Photo: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)


Hugh Hefner, the Playboy founder who died last week in ~ 91, clearly left behind a combined legacy. However he deserves point out for his contribution to a specific trend in mid-20th century America: the development of leisure. This development would specify our nation for decades to come.

As David Halberstam notes in his book The Fifties, the post-World war II period saw radical shifts in Americans' social behavior. An especially for white males who came house from military service abroad, there to be dramatic brand-new opportunities available. The GI invoice made a college education conveniently accessible, businesses were booming, single-family houses were becoming easily accessible and affordable in the suburbs, highways were being constructed, etc. Many world who prospered up in the functioning class and also spent your days laboring and living through their extended families were now in the center class. Lock had new labor-saving gadgets in the home, along with a peculiar brand-new device, the television, that verified them ideals that how civilization were supposed to be living.


These folks had actually two things their ancestors had largely lacked—spare time and also spare money. And they were in search of instructions for exactly how to usage them. Playboy was one such guide. Started in 1953, it detailed an odd but financially rewarding assemblage that content: articles by top writers and also photographs of nude women. However it additionally offered its largely male readership some social signifiers: just how to entertain, just how to do cocktails, what to read and also talk about, how to acting a pipe, just how to date. The ide of the i know well bachelor pad and swinging way of life emanate from this era and persist to this day.


Halberstam's book notes one more important trend emerging from the era—the climb of quick food and motels. Through increased recreation time and money, the national expansions the previously neighborhood businesses, and massive federal government highway building and construction came increased travel. Businesspeople traveling v an unfamiliar area would be searching for a reliable and quick meal. Families increasingly exploring new towns would desire a safe and clean ar to stay and get a meal.

Ray Kroc well-known this opening once he partnered through the McDonald brothers and also opened a franchise that hamburger restaurants in 1955. Howard Johnson experienced a similar opportunity once he opened his an initial Motor Lodge in 1954. Competitors would happen to difficulty these companies' supremacy of your industries, however largely through mimicking their design. It's tough to imagine greater influences on the means Americans eat and travel.


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The development of leisure time also had a substantial influence on the American political system in the mid-20th century. One of the things Americans decided to perform with their newfound time was to join political clubs and also attend meetings. James Q. Wilson’s publication The Amateur Democrat: Club national politics in three Cities chronicles the climb of autonomous clubs in the 1950s and also '60s in assorted cities. This activity wasn't limited to the left—this very same era witnessed the increase of the California Republican Assembly and United republic of California in the West and also many similar organizations in various other regions.


These clubs listed a meet for people to comment on political issues that came to them and to analyze that issue into concrete political actions, prefer circulating petitions, functioning on campaigns, pressuring elected officials, and running because that office. And also the timing couldn't have actually been much more opportune, as party devices were top top the decrease thanks come a collection of civil business reforms and also court decisions. The is, next were losing their main workforce, and also club volunteer were stepping in come play those roles.

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But these new amateur club members were different than the former device employees. Lock weren't motivated by a paycheck so much as through ideology; they felt rewarded as soon as they saw government moving closer to your ideals. This rapidly readjusted parties and politics. Ideological activists had been relegated come the fringes of politics; now they were driving it. Club activists aided steer democracy to the left on civil rights, society welfare, and also nuclear disarmament. They helped drive republicans to the ideal on these same issues. Many of those that orchestrated Barry Goldwater's nomination for president in 1964 had been drawn into national politics by the conservative clubs that a decade earlier.

Today, the parties are greatly organized and run by such amateurs, and also they have played a strong role in polarizing and also even paralyzing our political system. As Eitan Hersh describes them, they are "ordinary human being who are doing politics the dorn way."


The increase of leisure in the wake up of human being War II created an opportunity for the building of a new world, with various approaches to culture and politics than we'd checked out previously. For better or worse, we're still life in that world.