It's the 1950s. You made it home after fighting for your country in WWII and all you want is to never leave them again. Money, fame, power, all that pales in contrast to stability, but they would still be nice. What if you could have both? Well, that's what a lot of individuals in the 1950s and 60s wanted. They valued material possessions and stability. They went through enough hard times, the War, the Great Depression (to just name a few), and they wanted it to end. Little did they know that their decisions would have impacts on others.
It's the 1960s. You look around and see everyone fighting over territory, trying to hold jobs, and grabbing at money everywhere they can. And you think to yourself "why do we do this?"
The hippies noticed that the American society placed a lot of emphasis on stability, success, and material possessions. However they were different - they just wanted to be happy. This is where there is a large difference in goals between the hippies and the typical Americans of the 1960s. Growing up with access to television, they were able to know what was going on in the world a lot faster, and they didn't like seeing the inequalities present. They believed they could change these inequalities, and so they acted counterculturally.
Counterculture is a sociological term. Sociology.about.com defines it as:
A counterculture is a subculture that rejects and opposes significant elements of the dominant culture. Countercultures can take many forms, from religious cults to communes to political parties.The counterculture movement that began in the 1960s came about out of a desire to reject and go against the common values of the American culture. They saw people who only cared about success and material gain, and they wanted nothing to do with that. Instead, they pursued happiness, even to the point that many dropped out of high school to join the Hippie movement. Part of the things the Hippies enjoyed doing were things that would be starkly opposed by their parent's generation, such as casual sex, the use of psychedelic drugs, their vegetarian diet, and their eco-friendly lifestyles. But don't let me lump all the hippies into one group. I'm sure there were individuals that did not fit my examples, and that is the limitation of my viewpoint. I am writing based on the common understanding of hippies, and this important to remember when reading through this post.
Hippies, or as they are more commonly called, hipsters, were the first one to bring about a new era of change. In other words, they were doing what was cool to do before everyone else realized it was cool to do it. It's unique looking back on the 1960-70s countercultural movement and seeing that the major way it grew was by word of mouth and general attraction. It grew because it was appealing to the younger generation. But it is worth noting that there was the attraction of travel. Hippies didn't stay in one place. Rather, they were encouraged to go and explore. This, among other ideas and beliefs, was appealing to the younger generation.
Before I go too far, let's make sure I hit on at least one major meeting the 1960 counterculture movement created. In January of 1967, there was a large gathering in San Franciso's Golden Gate Park to promote peace; over 30,000 showed up to support the movement, launching what became known as the summer of love. All this definitely expanded the movement to new horizons. And while it would be nice to say all protests went well and the movement had no negatives, I cannot lie. Because many lived on the streets, the original hippies within Haught-Ashbury became to go back to normal life or die due to malnourishment, disease, and general crime. But this did not stop the movement from continuing. In fact, it continued into April of 1969 when a university started to harm the environment of a vacant lot on their campus, the University of California. The university took many homes on the 2.8-acre lot and demolished them, leaving just the rubble. Unfortunately, rubble is not very nice to look at, so the hippies decided to plant shrubs, flowers, and trees on the lot, allowing it to earn the name "People's Park". However, President Reagan nor the public enjoyed this and not-so-nicely broke up the peaceful protest.
One of the major implications of the counterculture movement is its sociological significance. Without hippies and hipsters balancing society out, society could move along on a bad path. Counterculture provides the necessary balance society needs.
But how does this apply to today? Today there has been many changes around us. Trump became the President-Elect, the LGBTQIA+ movement is growing, and different ____ Lives Matter groups are making their voices heard. The hipsters of the 1960s were some of the first to go against societies beliefs, but they definitely were not the last.