Understanding Youth Culture

A History of Youth Culture

The following definitions are a general guide to the generations of the past century. They may help you discover the similarities and understand the differences between your youthful experiences and those of your children.

Generations, from 1925 to 2003.

The Silent Generation

This generation grew up with the harsh realities of war and a depressed economy. As they came of age, they were too young to be war heroes and too old to be youthful free spirits. They paved the way for civil rights and rock and roll.

Baby Boom Generation

This generation grew up with the most idyllic images of American family life (Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best) but ushered in a "counterculture" era of free love, urban riots, and campus unrest. As they matured, idealism made way for materialism, and the word "yuppie" was coined.

Generation X

Generation X grew up fast with rampant rates of divorce, a rise in single parent families, the AIDS epidemic, skyrocketing youth crime, and unsupervised afternoons. They entered the job market when there were no jobs, so itís not surprising they are risk takers with their careers and prefer free agency to corporate loyalty. Their outsider status helped spawn the angst- filled grunge movement and they also fueled the hip-hop explosion.

Generation Y/Millennials

Those born into Generation Y never had it so good and bad at the same time. Child welfare is back at the top of the national agenda, from vaccinations to better childcare. But at the same time, school violence has taken center stage and drugs.

Much of this information came from the book The Fourth Turning, by Neil Strauss and William Howe.

previous | next

Back to Table of Contents