The Effects of the Hippie Movement

Updated March 22, 2017

In the 1960s, a counterculture emerged as a prominent force in mainstream society. The hippie movement was one proclaiming the powers that be should "Make Love, Not War." Hippies rejected established institutions. They believed in free will, and many embraced recreational drug use and sexual promiscuity. Their way of thinking had a far-reaching impact on the American culture both back then and today.


The hippie movement had a strong impact on pop culture, influencing popular music, television, film and art. Bands, such as The Beatles helped record companies make a huge profit by recording music that played up to the hippie ideals of peace, love and togetherness. But pop culture was not the only thing affected by these ideas. According to Mortal Journey, a website that focuses on fads and trends in history, the hippie counterculture also ushered in a more liberal-minded media. News outlets veered toward the left mindset.

Sexual Liberty

In the 1960s, many unmarried couples felt more comfortable about their sexuality. They no longer believed they were being persecuted for living together before they wed. Young people were being more frank about their sexuality too. This attitude led many people to adopt multiple partners and other promiscuous behaviours. The era of sexual liberation came to a screeching halt in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic. The preferred methods of sex education since that time varies from safe sex with birth control methods to abstinence.


The 1960s is famous for its flower child look, a design adopted from the hippie movement. Many designers used various materials in their clothing designs, including hemp and an unsettled fabric that was mostly seen in patchwork designs. Some also used recycled materials, which played up to the hippie belief in preserving the environment. In fashion, what becomes old often comes back to being new again. Many symbols of the '60s, such as the peace sign, can still be seen in fashion and society.

Criticising Authority

A lasting effect that the hippie movement left on American society is an attitude. The counterculture criticised nearly everything. From American involvement in the Vietnam conflict to the local police force, every figure head and authority figure was up for scrutiny. These social institutions were thrown into complete disarray over the challenging minority, and many, including President Richard Nixon, believed they were under siege. This type of scepticism still exists but largely remains in a separate conspiracy theorist counterculture.

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About the Author

Leah Williams has written for many newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites, including the "Mt. Vernon Register-News" and "Nightlife." She has her bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University and is now working on her graduate degree. Williams likes to write about parenting, arts and entertainment, education and features.