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Automobile Advent and Its Impact on American Culture

The invention of the automobile symbolized an explosion in self expression in the 1920s. This was characterized by a period after which the nation had just come out of war. The culture was dominated by the youth where fashion and fads were the trend of every day life. This was generally a period of merry making. Amenities were distant and people had to walk long distances to get to shops and grocery stores. This precipitated the demand for better, faster, and efficient system of transportation. This was also the period in which prohibition was instituted and never became effective. War had left the feeling of rebellion and the general populations desire to break away from the society customs and culture. According to Davidson, DeLay, Heyrman, Lytle, and Stoff, (2008), “a nation’s narrative is embedded in the way we understand our past.” In this regard, our ability to effectively understand the influence of automobile on our culture must incorporate our ability to have a better knowledge on our past.

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Described by as a period of the roaring twenties, Cheek, (2002) illustrates that “It was the “Roaring Twenties,” the decade of bath tub gin, the model T, the five dollar work day, the first transatlantic flight, and the movies”. It was referred to as a period of advancement in the development of urban areas. However, a mid these advancement in improved life, this era recorded the highest rates of intolerance and isolation. “Chastened by the first world war, historians often point out that Americans retreated into a provincialism evidenced by the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the anti- radical hysteria of the Palmer raids, restrictive immigration laws, and prohibition” (Cheek, 2002).

The most notable changes in the advent of the automobile by American culture were the human social aspects of morality, values, and self identity. According to Berger (2000), “the most significant changes brought by the automobile have occurred in the area of American social and economic values and behavior”. In a moral sense, the automobile was linked to sexual decadence, lawlessness, and increase in personal debts during this period. The courting behavior of the youth and the middle class American was determined by the possession of an automobile. The automobile played multifaceted roles in morality and stood as a symbol of sex. The American values such as personality and personal gratification were significantly influenced by the automobile. As a symbol of self identity, the automobile defined the self status of an individual in the society.

Henry Ford was able to produce an automobile that was economical to the average American. While other manufactures targeted the rich and top members of The American society, Henry Ford manufactured the Model T and dropped its price from eight hundred and twenty five dollars to three hundred and sixty five dollars within a period of eight years. Furthermore, the Model T consumed less fuel, was easy to operate, and simple to repair compared to models that were available in the market.

In conclusion, the automobile transformed the culture of Americans in the 1920s to a level that can only be compared to the introduction of the computer and the mobile technologies. It opened up a faster and easier transportation system, acted as a symbol of status and defined one’s social class in society. With the introduction of the Model T by Henry Ford, cars became cheaper to acquire and the middle class prospered. The introduction of the automobile in the lives of the Americans during this period remains the most dominant factor in influencing the culture of Americans.


Berger, M. L. (2000). The automobile in American history and culture: a reference guide. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Cheek, J.S. (2002). The Roaring Twenties. Web.

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Davidson, J., DeLay, B., Heyrman, C., Lytle, M. & Stoff, M. (2008). Nation of Nations. Boston: McGraw-Hill.


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StudyCorgi. "Automobile Advent and Its Impact on American Culture." December 1, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Automobile Advent and Its Impact on American Culture." December 1, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Automobile Advent and Its Impact on American Culture'. 1 December.

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