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SOCIETY

Text for dictation:

The meaning of "society" is susceptible to changes in place and time. In Britain, during the Second World War, there was a feeling of community because civilians helped one another out. When the war ended, the Welfare State was founded. People were provided with free eye-tests, glasses, medicines and dental check-ups. There was a sense of the strong helping the weak. By the end of the 1950s, many people were purchasing washing machines and televisions. Some were even buying their own houses. The consumer society was under way. Politicians told us that we'd never had it so good.

During the 1960s, in both Britain and America, the conventional view of society was challenged by a youth movement whose opinions were articulated through pop and folk music and student politics. Songs such as "Little Boxes" ridiculed the idealized picture of the two parent family whose children went through both summer school and university to become perfect products of society. The little boxes of many different colours, but which all looked just the same, were the suburban dwellings of the American middle class. Other songs such as "What did you learn in school, today?" questioned the image of the good citizen who never doubts the teacher's word, regards the police as friends, supports the death penalty and is eager to fight for his country. The attack on the uniformity of the family developed into a protest against the Vietnam war. By the early 1970s, criticism turned to the corruption inherent in the Nixon administration.

Today, people show greater tolerance towards different family structures such as single parent families and there is a wider acceptance of different races and sexual orientations. However, trust is in short supply, judging by the number of security alarms fitted to our houses and cars and the emergence of neighbourhood watch schemes as the social institutions of the 1990s.