From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth-century America - Chapter 2, The Economy of Dating Summary & Analysis

Beth L. Bailey
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Chapter 2, The Economy of Dating Summary and Analysis

The transition to dating appeared to an accommodation to modernity. Dating satisfied a need in a world where few women had parlors and childhood neighbors rarely married. Dating was not about marriage or love. Instead, dating was about competition and consumption in the 1930s.

After World War II, two forms of dating arose. Before the war, youth sought popularity through competitive success resulting from many dates. Aterwards 'going steady' became common because the system made security attainable in an unstable world. Dating was still a way to demonstrate popularity. Being popular meant having an automobile, good clothes, fraternity membership, and money for men and for women, popularity meant being seen with popular men in the 'right' places and giving the impression that those women were in demand. The system started in the college...

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