In the 1960s and 1970s, self-avowed members of the counterculture, often based on the west coast and in the Rocky Mountain West, eschewed critics’ stereotypical notions of stoned and indolent hippies and struggled to build an alternative economic system. While rejecting corporate capitalism and consumer acquisitiveness, they built new enterprises, new institutions, new organizational forms, and new practices that gave proof of the possibility of creating economically sustainable, alternative lives. Do-it-yourself practices, especially building one’s own home or repairing one’s own vehicle, promised to free practitioners from working for wages in order to afford consumer goods—even as DIY culture often promoted traditional gender roles. While many of the counterculture’s attempts at escaping the employee-consumer nexus failed or were short-lived, it did succeed in outlining an alternative approach to both production and consumption that has had a continuing impact on American capitalist development.
- © 2016 by the Pacific Coast Branch, American Historical Association