Demographic changes, economic growth, total war, disruptions of traditional social patterns, and competing definitions of freedom and justice altered the experiences of everyday life.
The disruptions of two total wars, the reduction of barriers to migration within Europe because of economic integration, globalization, and the arrival of new permanent residents from outside Europe changed the everyday lives of Europeans in significant ways. For the first time, more people lived in cities than in rural communities. Economic growth — although interrupted by repeated wars and economic crises — generally increased standards of living, leisure time (despite the growing number of two-career families), educational attainment, and participation in mass cultural entertainments. The collapse of the birth rate to below replacement levels enhanced the financial well-being of individual families even as it reduced the labor force. To support labor-force participation and encourage families, governments instituted family policies supporting child care and created large-scale guest-worker programs.
Europe’s involvement in an increasingly global economy exposed its citizens to new goods, ideas, and practices. Altogether, the disruptions of war and decolonization led to new demographic patterns — a population increase followed by falling birth rates and the immigration of non-Europeans — and to uncertainties about Europeans’ cultural identity. Even before the collapse of communism and continuing afterward, a variety of groups on both the left and right began campaigns of terror in the name of ethnic or national autonomy, or in radical opposition to free-market ideology. Other groups worked within the democratic system to achieve nationalist and xenophobic goals.
By the 1960s, the rapid industrialization of the previous century had created significant environmental problems. Environmentalists argued that the unfettered free-market economy could lead Europe to ecological disaster, and they challenged the traditional economic and political establishment with demands for sustainable development sensitive to environmental, aesthetic, and moral constraints. At the same time, a generation that had not experienced either economic depression or total war came of age and criticized existing institutions and beliefs while calling for greater political and personal freedom. These demands culminated with the 1968 youth revolts in Europe’s major cities and in challenges to institutional authority structures, especially those of universities.
Feminist movements gained increased participation for women in politics, and before the end of the century, several women became heads of government or state. Yet traditional social patterns and institutions continued to hinder the achievement of gender equality. While these internal movements and struggles went on, immigrants from around the globe poured into Europe, and by the end of the century, Europeans found themselves living in multiethnic and multireligious communities. Immigrants defied traditional expectations of integration and assimilation and expressed social values different from 20th-century Europeans. Many Europeans refused to consider the newcomers as true members of their society. In the early 21st century, Europeans continued to wrestle with issues of social justice and how to define European identity.
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The 20th century was characterized by large-scale suffering brought on by warfare and genocide as well as tremendous improvements in the standard of living.
The lives of women were defined by family and work responsibilities, economic changes, and feminism.
New voices gained prominence in political, intellectual, and social discourse.
Pages below are from Jackson Spielvogel's Western Civilization, Updated 9th AP Edition
Reading assignment 1: