How Federal Policies Narrow Class, Race, and Ethno-Religious Differences in the Middle Decades of the 20th Century

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Cultural advancements and the nature of human geography that they produce are experienced over a long period. Nevertheless, culture transforms slowly and so does the perceptible landscape that it brings forth. The diverse cultural landscapes in the United States have developed as a consequence of demographic, technological and economic transformations. However, other scholars argue that state policies have helped in narrowing race, class and ethnographic variations during the 20th century asserting that these changes were not brought about by cultural advancements but rather these developments came about as a result of demographic, economic and technological advancements in the United States since World War II. According to historian Carl Degler, the New Deal was a concept which was innovative[footnoteRef:2]. He was of the belief that the New Deal was a representation of radical transformations in the way Americans perceived government and its duty in the economic development. Instead of expecting economic hurdles to be resolved through the market forces, Americans started to have expectations on the state and act in moments of economic trouble thus creating interventions that would help in making things better. [2: Degler, Carl N. “The Third American Revolution.”? Out of Our Past (New York: Harper & Row, 1959)? (1971).]

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Degler perceived Social Security as a way of changing situations thus indicating that Americans perceived the state as a responsible way of making sure that elder Americans would get lives that were decent. This was considered as a change from the perception that this responsibility was solely on those people who had families. Deglar additionally argued that Social Security illustrated the flexibility of FDR as well as the will to experiment whenever the public demanded its implementation. Therefore, Americans were ready to undergo a transformation after they had experienced the extreme conditions which had been brought about by the Great Depression, whereby banks had failed, industries were flattered and the country was full of individuals who were not employed. Deglar further argued that the New Deal was made of a permanent change in the expectations of the American public who wanted the state to be an active player in the country’s economic development.

According to a historian Baron Bernstein, writing that was done during 1960s argued that the New Deal was not perceived as a revolution and that the transformations that were suggested by Degler and other individuals had been blown out of proportion. Bernstein was of the view that President Roosevelt had worked hard to protect the current political system and that the transformations in the political system as well as changes in attitudes and policies were perceived as a break from the preceding moments. However, it is evident that there were less positive transformations that took place during this moment when America was repositioning itself in the international affairs while the country was experiencing numerous global and domestic challenges.

Degler perceived the Social Security Act as a way of responding to the radical ideas as well as programs that attracted most Americans, similar to those that were proposed by Townsend. According to the Act, there were more signs that exceeded a single substance. Employees were supposed to make contributions to their old age pensions thus they were not able to rely on contributions made by government.

Therefore, it was an aid that was somehow limited with more than a single entity of five family members being excluded from the pension scheme. Most of the employees included those who were working on the domestic farms. Degler argued that while the New Deal was aimed at bringing down the rate of suffering that it did not deserve the kind of praises that it was given. On this notion, it can be argued that there were less positive transformations that took place at the moment when America repositioned itself in conducting its international affairs[footnoteRef:3]. Most importantly, the humanity geography of the United States was changed thus reflecting on some of the main transformations in the United States. Maybe the largest geographical alterations included the quick utilization of rural lands, their changes into other smaller communities which are independent. While suburbanization had earlier started before the Second World War, it had seemed to intensify even after the war had ended thus making America a nation that was commuting and one that depended on the foreign oil of automobiles. Whereas there were undeniable developments that had been made by Americans, the rate of suburbanization also increased the degree of racial segregation thus having to literally push the agenda of black and white segregation further apart. Americans had already gotten into the Great Migration till late 1970s thus bringing millions of African Americans towards the western and northern cities and the moment when the economy had been transformed, most of these individuals were rendered jobless[footnoteRef:4]. [3: American Yawp The Great Depression. Chapter 23: ] [4: Katznelson, Ira. “When affirmative action was white.” (2005).]

Another argument by Degler was that the celebration of The New deal was aimed at changing the American ideas with regards to the state and the county’s economy. In the same manner, Degler found that arguments that were fronted by individuals like Bernstein appeared to be gloomy with regards to the ideas fronted in the New Deal. He posited that having a parallel operation assisted people and businesses alike to grow and mature. Additionally, he argued that the objectives that were made to maintain the American structure and assist it to survive instead of changing it thus the version fronted by the American administration was that it would assist in survival instead of just changing the entire structure. It was evident that the vision of the administration was not just ambiguous but also inconsistent.

Degler characterized the New Deal as a program that was practically exercised and one which applied Social Security as a good example in order to attain its practicality. He asserts that the Act could not have been widespread or rather it would have lost the support of the Congress. However, it can be argued that there are several aspects that led to the limitation of the extent in which the New Deal program which included congressional opposition which was conservative as well as reliance on a local state that failed to necessarily perform its duties in ways that were democratic and which were consistent with whatever the designers of the program had hoped to achieve. Most fundamentally, the highest constraint of the America citizens was social security thus leading to other underlying issues being used as conservative responses of the citizens with regards to the depression. It can further be argued that the New Deal fronted by FDR was as a result of the public system in America which tolerated the revolution that was perceived by Degler as a revolution. When putting race into consideration, most Americans consider the color of the skin which is not a surprise provided the country’s history. Despite the discriminations and battles that the native Indians underwent, slavery is what led to the American Civil War thus sharpening the skin focus of Americans.

Contrast to the above argument, there were black-white settlements in just one segment of the post world war two landscapes. Internal migration and immigration had been majorly complicated in many aspects of the American life, geography, politics and economy. According to the most recent patterns adopted during the 20th century, immigration overlay other methods of immigration. Other individuals formed places of that were quite diverse from the nominal pattern linked to that of the Europeans. Therefore, the history of racism in America is seen as modern immigrant assimilation in several ways whereby there is an influx of illegal immigrants that leads to the perception that there are alterations and racial compositions which result to siege of the American cultural diversity. Other individuals perceive it as enrichment because racism in America is seen in a unique manner and its trait have had such complex and long histories, which include geographical imprints and a general perception of race that is generally applied to the social constructs.


American Yawp The Great Depression. Chapter 23: Degler, Carl N. “The Third American Revolution.”? Out of Our Past (New York: Harper & Row, 1959)? (1971). Katznelson, Ira. “When affirmative action was white.” (2005).

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How Federal Policies Narrow Class, Race, and Ethno-Religious Differences in the Middle Decades of The 20th Century. (2018, Dec 26). Retrieved June 5, 2023 , from

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