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. Women's organizations and movements continued to advocate for other causes, such as equal pay, women's health care issues, and increased child care subsidies.
During the second half of the century, immigrants from around the globe streamed into Europe, and by the new millennium Europeans found themselves living in multiethnic and multi religious 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.
4.4.1: The 20th century was characterized by large-scale suffering brought on by warfare and genocide, but also by tremendous improvements in the standard of living.
4.4.1.A: World War I created a “lost generation,” fostered disillusionment and cynicism, transformed the lives of women, and democratized societies.
4.4.1.B: World War II decimated a generation of Russian and German men; virtually destroyed European Jewry; resulted in the murder of millions in other groups targeted by the Nazis including Roma, homosexuals, people with disabilities, and others; forced large-scale migrations; and undermined prewar class hierarchies.
4.4.C: Mass production, new food technologies, and industrial efficiency increased disposable income and created a consumer culture in which greater domestic comforts such as electricity, indoor plumbing, plastics, and synthetic fibers became available.
4.4.1.D: New communication and transportation technologies multiplied the connections across space and time, transforming daily life and contributing to the proliferation of ideas and to globalization.
4.4.2: The lives of women were defined by family and work responsibilities, economic changes, and feminism.
4.4.2.A: During the world wars, women became increasingly involved in military and political mobilization as well as in economic production.
4.4.2.B: In Western Europe, through the efforts of feminists, and in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union through government policy, women finally gained the vote, greater educational opportunities, and access to professional careers, even while continuing to face social inequalities.
4.4.2.C: With economic recovery after World War II, the birth rate increased dramatically (the baby boom), often promoted by government policies.
4.4.2.D: New modes of marriage, partnership, motherhood, divorce, and reproduction gave women more options in their personal lives.
4.4.2.E: Women attained high political office and increased their representation in legislative bodies in many nations.
4.4.3: New voices gained prominence in political, intellectual, and social discourse.
4.4.3.A: Green parties in Western and Central Europe challenged consumerism, urged sustainable development, and, by the late 20th century, cautioned against globalization.
4.4.3.B: Various movements, including women's movements, political and social movements, gay and lesbian movements, and others, worked for expanded civil rights, in some cases obtaining the goals they sought, and in others facing strong opposition.
4.4.3.C: Intellectuals and youth reacted against perceived bourgeois materialism and decadence, most significantly with the revolts of 1968.
4.4.3.D: Because of the economic growth of the 1950s and 1960s, migrant workers from southern Europe, Asia, and Africa immigrated to Western and Central Europe; however, after the economic downturn of the 1970s, these workers and their families often became targets of anti-immigrant agitation and extreme nationalist political parties.
4.4.4: European states began to set aside nationalist rivalries in favor of economic and political integration, forming a series of transnational unions that grew in size and scope over the second half of the 20th century.
4.4.4.A: As the economic alliance known as the European Coal and Steel Community, envisioned as a means to spur postwar economic recovery, developed into the European Economic Community (EEC or Common Market) and the European Union (EU), Europe experienced increasing economic and political integration and efforts to establish a shared European identity.
4.4.4.B: EU member nations continue to balance questions of national sovereignty with the responsibilities of membership in an economic and political union.