Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Gerald E. Markle

Second Advisor

Dr. Ron Kramer

Third Advisor

Dr. Douglas Davidson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Lewis Carlson


This is a study of ordinary people's recollections of the decade of the nineteen fifties. The theoretical concepts of collective memory and collected memories guide design and analysis. Unstructured interviews with 33 individuals who grew up in America in that decade were conducted. The snowball method identified potential informants. The data from these interviews, combined with secondary sources on that time period, served to reconstruct this decade. A number of themes emerged from the data; the decade was seen: as an apolitical time, as fun and innocent, as fearful with respect to atomic weaponry and Communists, as problematic for race relations, and as the pre-cursor to the revolutionary decade which was to follow. It was found that this decade is not the monolith that the dominant American ideology portrays through the media. The recollections of African Americans, for example, are systematically different than the memories of whites. It was concluded that, while concepts such as dominant ideology guide sociological thought, care needs to be exercised, lest such ideas become reified.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Sociology Commons