1980s
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Introduction

For many people in the United States, the late 1970s were a troubled and troubling time. The radical and countercultural movements of the 1960s and early 1970s, the Watergate scandal, the Vietnam War, uncertainty in the Middle East and economic crisis at home had undermined Americans’ confidence in their fellow citizens and in their government. By the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, the idealistic dreams of the 1960s were worn down by inflation, foreign policy turmoil and rising crime. In response, many Americans embraced a new conservatism in social, economic and political life during the 1980s, characterized by the policies of President Ronald Reagan. Often remembered for its materialism and consumerism, the decade also saw the rise of the “yuppie,” an explosion of blockbuster movies and the emergence of cable networks like MTV, which introduced the music video and launched the careers of many iconic artists.