Dating rules of the 1950s

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It started with falling birth rates in the early 20th century; whereas households of 10 children were the norm for previous generations, married couples began making a conscious choice to have smaller families.

Previous convention said a chaperone was needed in order to engage in courtship, but these "wild young people" (as one publication referred to them) bucked tradition.

The first women to date, many of whom were raised by ultra-proper Victorian mothers, risked jail time in doing so.

Fourthly, we find a change in the models and metaphors used to describe the home and family.

Prior to the 20th century, when we talked about courtship we used language and metaphors of home and family: system of courtship that played itself out in the entertainment culture and public square largely was understood and described by the advice and "expert" class with metaphors taken from modern industrial capitalism.

With the rise of the entertainment culture, with its movie houses and dance halls and their universal appeal across class lines, dating quickly moved up the socio-economic ladder to include middle- and upper-class men and women, as well as the new urbanites.

When one tries to understand how dating has changed over time, and most importantly, how we arrived at the system of courtship and dating we have today, one must realize the monumental cultural shift that occurred during the 1940s, primarily due to World War II.

For social scientists, studies of courtship usually look at the process of "mate selection." (Social scientists, among whom I number myself from time to time, will never be accused of being romantics.) For the purpose of this article the , prior to the early 20th century, courtship involved one man and one woman spending intentional time together to get to know each other with the expressed purpose of evaluating the other as a potential husband or wife.At the same time that the public entertainment culture was on the rise in the early 20th century, a proliferation of magazine articles and books began offering advice about courtship, marriage and the relationship between the sexes.As Ken Myers says in , from the late 1930s on, young people knew, down to the percentage point, what their peers throughout the country thought and did.So these are four important cultural forces in the early part of the 20th century that assisted in moving our culture from the older courtship system that existed prior to the late 19th century, to a courtship system that includes "dating," which, I will argue in the next article, is much more ambiguous and confusing.I will also talk about dating itself (including the origination of the word If you’ve enjoyed this article, will you consider giving a tax-deductible gift to Boundless right now?

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