The 1990s Comparative Studies | HSC English

The 1990s Comparative Studies

  • The 1990s - Peaceful Time

    The nineties are considered by many western countries to be a peaceful time that occurred after the effective end of the Cold War but before the ensuing War on Terror. 

    A combination of factors including an economic boom, the beginning of the widespread proliferation of new media such as the Internet, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union led to a reconsolidation of economic and political power across the world, and within countries.

    The Human Genome Project began, and DNA identification of individuals found wide application in criminal law. Living standards and democratic governance generally improved in many areas of the world, notably East Asia, much of Eastern Europe, Latin America, and South Africa. New ethnic conflicts emerged in Africa, and signs of any resolution of tensions in the Middle East remained elusive.

  • Progressive political messages

    The nineties mostly supported progressive political messages such as “peace”, “save the earth”; “stop racism” “greed is bad” with generally conservative social ideas such as “just say no to drugs”. Youth culture responded to this by embracing both environmentalism and entrepreneurship.

    Western world fashions reflected this by often turning highly individualistic – punk and gothic fashion was at an all time high – tattoos and body piercing gained popularity. Being an individual or alternative was considered cool, and consequently, minorities and those who had previously been on the fringes of society were more accepted.  

  • Increasing acceptance of homosexuality

    In 1990, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of diseases. Increasing acceptance of homosexuality occurred in the western world.

    Feminism is one of the core defining elements of 1990s pop culture. “You go, girl!” was a popular phrase in the media as feminism with the Spice Girls, and ‘girl power’ in culture, and more women taking prominent political roles, especially in the Western world.

  • Inclusivity

    Inclusivity was not limited to women, homosexuals and racial minorities. Literature and educative bodies tried to bridge the gap between the educated and uneducated (which often meant the gap between rich and poor) and the idea of making high culture accessible to everyone was prominent.

    The postcolonial idea that Western culture dominated or precluded others was also an issue and an effort to account for other’s language and cultural background and expectations was a new idea that people poured effort into. Celebrating diversity in all its forms was a popular idea of the time.

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