Chronicling the Good Life

Popular culture in the United States and much of the Western world has concentrated on the reoccurring major theme of the search for "the good life."

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Since the establishment of the United States, there have been two opposing themes of popular culture. The first theme, a materialistic one, emphasized a belief in happiness and success through technology, material wealth, and upward social mobility, while the second theme, a simpler one, sought happiness and success in a life of simplicity, one with few possessions, and a spiritual connection. Over the 230-plus years that these two themes permeated American society, they have alternated between being the majority and minority views. During years of prosperity, the materialistic theme dominated, whereas during more modest times the simpler theme was emphasized.

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