"Wild Ones: Containment Culture and 1950s Youth Rebellion"
Thesis DisciplineAmerican Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
My study seeks to fill a void in Cold War historiography by situating the emergence of 1950s youth culture in the context of containment culture, evaluating the form and extent of youth's cultural 'rebellion'. The pervasive cultural discourse of 'containment', which operated as both a foreign policy to restrict the Soviet Union's sphere of influence and a domestic policy to stifle political dissent, mandated that America propagate an image of social harmony and political plurality during the early years of the Cold War. Yet the emergence of a rebellious youth culture in the middle of the 1950s challenges the notion that America was a 'consensus society' and exposes the limitations and fissures of the white middle class hegemony that the containment narrative worked to legitimate. In examining the rise of rock n roll, the emergence of the drive-in theatre as a "teen space," and the significance of "style" to the galvanization of 1950s youth culture, this study examines the ways in which youth culture of the period variously negotiated, resisted, and accommodated containment culture.