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Hippie Culture

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Hippie Culture
Hallie Israel and Molly Clark

Overview
Hippies represent the counterculture of the 1960’s. Their lifestyle is usually associated with rock music, hallucinogenic drugs, and long, flowy hair and clothing. They were seen by some as disrespectful and dirty and a disgrace to society, but to many they are a reminder of a more peaceful, carefree part of America’s history. Hippies were strongly against violence and supported liberal policies and freedom of personal expression, their lifestyles centering around the concepts of peace, freedom, and harmony for all people.

Generally, counterculture is used to describe the culture of a group of people whose morals, values, core ideals, and lifestyle differs, contradicts, or is polar to those of mainstream society at the time. Culturally, it is often described as a social equivalent to extremely liberal politics and radicalism.
Who
The hippies of the 1960’s were the teenagers of the baby boom generation, so they were found in large numbers. They were generally Caucasian, middle-class, white teenagers between the ages of 15-25 who were tired of the restrictions put on them by society and their conservative parents. Most lived in urban areas or came from an urban background. They were tired of conforming and began to express themselves in a radical way. Hippies didn’t care about money and worked as little as possible. Instead, many of them shared what they had and lived together in large communes, while others simply lived in poverty by choice. They had very liberal political views and strongly protested the government and the war. The lifestyle of a hippie centered around non-conformity, because hippie culture is all about embracing who you really are and rejecting the need to conform to their society or authorities. Some of the main ideas of hippie culture are listed below:
-Do not conform to society.
-Materialism is wrong.
-Technology is unnecessary and oftentimes dehumanizing.
-Be your own person, not who anyone else wants you to be.
Although each hippie embraced his or her own ideals as a part of their new culture, the stereotypical hippie:
-Used hallucinogenic drugs.
-Practiced or were interested in Eastern Religions
-Had very liberal political views.
-Peace and love instead of hate and war.
-Expressed extreme tolerance and on the subject of sexuality and sex.
-Live life to the fullest
-Embrace the peace and love expressed by music, as well as the unification it creates among people, usually rock and roll.

What
The culture of hippies was unlike anything the people of the United States had ever seen before. They focused their lives around the ideas of peace, love, freedom, and living life to the fullest. To heighten their experiences spiritually and physically, many hippies used hallucinogenic drugs, like LSD. They listened to rock music and encouraged artistic expression in all different mediums. They lived peaceful lives and believed that living together in harmony was possible and necessary. Because of this, they strongly opposed violence, in particular, the Vietnam War. They believed that the government was the root of this and many other evils in society at the time. Due to this belief in particular, many officials and authorities at the time felt threatened by the prescence and radical ideas expressed by hippie culture and saw them as a danger to society, instead of a peaceful force who disagreed with their way of life. Still however, many authorities at the time felt threatened by the presence and radical ideas expressed by hippie culture.

Where

The hippie movement originated in the United States and was seen throughout the country, later spreading through other parts of the world. The main epicenters of it, however, were in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco and in the East Village of New York City, which were home to two of the largest hippie communities that ever existed. As the 1960’s progressed, the trend spread to Canada and eventually to many large cities in Western Europe, especially London, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin and Rome. Although counterculture was often found in urban areas and large cities because of its ability to spread quickly through these densely-populated areas, many also argue that the hippie movement began on college campuses, with liberal students who rejected the social privilege they had been born with because they didn't agree with the conservative values and political ideals which accompanied it. The hippie movement also spread through cafes and bars, which increasingly became centers of social gathering at the time.

When
The hippie movement first became popular in the 1960's, with a recognizable decline in the hippie counterculture movement occurring in the late 1970's due to the aging of the hippie population as well as the end of the Vietnam War.

Why
The hippie counterculture was a social movement caused by many issues and changes going on in the United States during the 1960’s. One important cause was the Vietnam War. These young men and women had friends and brothers being drafted and killed in Vietnam and were looking to make their anti-war views heard, hoping that they could bring peace and harmony to the world in a time of such great violence and atrocity. Another factor influencing hippie counterculture was the increasing popularity of rock and roll music. Rock and roll was a groundbreaking new type of art that encouraged peaceful expression, while also bringing people together and uniting them. The unity of rock music connected many hippies and allowed them to identify and relate with one another through a means that they could all relate to, share, and understand. Many hippies shared their culture through musical concerts and gathering, the most famous of which are Woodstock and the Summer of Love. Also influencing the liberal ideas of hippie culture was a greater access to birth control, which allowed for a women to control whether or not she wanted to get pregnant. This freedom contributed to the liberal sexual ideas of the time, because it eliminated a major consequence of sex and enabled women to attain greater control over their lives without necessarily embracing the safety of conservative values.
Additionally, hippies also had access to mind-altering drugs (hallucinogens) at the time, which greatly contributed to their lifestyle as use of the drugs became more accepted and a part of mainstream culture. Underground newspapers, new types of art (such as op art), rock music, and movies helped to define hippie counterculture and communicate the ideas of these non-conforming liberals.
In the 1960’s hippie counterculture began as the natural reaction for liberals who opposed the culture and conservative society of the 1950’s, the principles of the Cold War, and the violence of the Vietnam War. This rebelliousness of older, conservative lifestyles and values led to the hippie movement in the 60’s as people tried to oppose societal restrictions and ideals forced onto them by the previous generation. Hippie counterculture was a way for these liberals to express their views for peace, freedom, and non-conformity, creating a new culture of own in order to live life by their own ideals and have their voices heard and opinions respected as a group.

Later in the 60’s factors influencing counterculture were tensions between the average citizen and all symbols of authority. There were also many tensions on key issues such as civil rights, womens' rights, abortion, gay rights, and more. An issue which affected hippie culture was also the atrocities of the Vietnam War, which hippies strongly opposed. Hippies especially opposed the draft into the Vietnam War, believing that the war was wrong and that innocent Americans shouldn’t be forced to fight if doing so was against their moral principles. The liberal work of activists such as Martin Luther King Junior also spurred the hippie movement because it inspired people to stand up for what they believed in and be free to speak their mind and be themselves. Additionally, many also say that the hippie movement was influenced by the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a popular president whose tragic death fueled the political and social unrest of the time.

Legacy
The hippie movement and counterculture began to decline in the late 70’s, especially after the hippie generation grew older and US involvement in the Vietnam War ended, as well as the draft. However, the spirit of hippie culture has largely influenced the world and society today, because of the new ideas it brought to the world and the freedoms it encouraged.

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