Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
The following essay first examines the late-1950s formation of a distinctly urbanized middle class in San Francisco ideologically grounded in white-collar employment, homeownership, and consumer culture. It then follows the path of this community‰Ûªs ideological evolution over the ensuing decades while concurrently addressing its relationship with outside political, economic, and cultural forces, including Democratic Party politicians, locally-based private corporations, the 1960s countercultural movement, and the city‰Ûªs growing homosexual population. The paper‰Ûªs aim in doing so is to determine precisely how urban renewal and corporate growth, as well as the alternative political and social philosophy promoted by the countercultural movement, affected the fashioning and refashioning of middle-class ideals. By closely studying the responses of middle-class citizens to these external influences, I will demonstrate that self-interest largely informed the middle class‰Ûªs acceptance or rejection of the varying philosophies with which it was presented. Furthermore, my aim in writing this paper is to prove that San Francisco‰Ûªs middle class took all possible measures to maintain its residency and socioeconomic status within this exceptional urban space, including making the necessary adjustments to its prevailing ideology so as to conform with the changing tides of popular sentiment while remaining politically relevant and economically secure. Whether this involved an embrace of elitist economics or populist politics completely depended on the historical context of the decade, and sometimes even of the year. With so much change constantly unfolding over the chronological scope of this paper‰Ûªs consideration, I will show that the community‰Ûªs prevailing ideology routinely evolved, yet, by the late 1980s, still very much resembled its original configuration.
Bernstein, Remy, "Permanence as Policy: San Francisco's Middle Class and Its Changing Ideology, 1959-1986" (2013). Honors Theses. 95.