World War II brought more change to the US South than any other event in its history, even the legendary Civil War. The World War upset traditional patterns of thought and behavior, exposing southerners to new ways of thinking, and it launched economic developments that would overcome the long period era of poverty. It opened a new period in which the South experienced fundamental changes in a social system that had long shaped ideology and experience. Changes in communication and transportation, population growth, urbanization, the end of the one-party political system, consumerism, secularization — all pushed the South toward change. Yet the South retained a self-consciousness promoted by new national acceptance of cultural identities of all shapes, by appreciation of southern cultural traditions by a concern for tourism, by nostalgia, and by the functionality of southern organizations within a national federalist framework. Black southerners became among the most energetic examiners of the , as well as of their own self-consciousness as southerners. Appreciation of regions within the South has also grown, seen in the emergence of new conceptualizations of those regions, such as the Mid-South around Memphis, Tennessee; a central Texas complex within the larger, traditional Southwestern region; the Atlanta metro region; and a central Florida region anchored by the fantasies of Disney World. Through all the changes, the traditionally-dominant denominations have retained their hold. While a force for spiritual normalcy and often disengagement from the public sphere, religion has also been deeply involved in both liberal and conservative political crusades.


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