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robertogreco : generationalwarfare   3

We need to ditch generational labels – Rebecca Onion – Aeon
"Generational thinking is seductive and confirms preconceived prejudices, but it’s a bogus way to understand the world"



"But in real life, I find generational arguments infuriating. Overly schematised and ridiculously reductive, generation theory is a simplistic way of thinking about the relationship between individuals, society, and history. It encourages us to focus on vague ‘generational personalities’, rather than looking at the confusing diversity of social life. Since I’m a ‘Gen-X’er born in 1977, the conventional wisdom is that I’m supposed to be adaptable, independent, productive, and to have a good work/life balance. Reading these characteristics feels like browsing a horoscope. I see myself in some of these traits, and can even feel a vague thrill of belonging when I read them. But my ‘boomer’ mother is intensely productive; my ‘Greatest Generation’ grandmother still sells old books online at age 90, in what I consider to be the ultimate show of adaptability and independence.

enerational thinking doesn’t frustrate everyone. Indeed, there is a healthy market for pundits who can devise grand theories of generational difference. Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584-2069 (1991) and founders of the consulting firm LifeCourse Associates in Virginia, have made a fine living out of generational assessments, but their work reads like a deeply mystical form of historical explanation. (Strauss died in 2007; Howe continues to run the consultancy LifeCourse.) The two have conceived an elaborate and totalising theory of the cycle of generations, which they argue come in four sequential and endlessly repeating archetypes.

In the Strauss-Howe schema, these distinct groups of archetypes follow each other throughout history thus: ‘prophets’ are born near the end of a ‘crisis’; ‘nomads’ are born during an ‘awakening’; ‘heroes’ are born after an ‘awakening’, during an ‘unravelling’; and ‘artists’ are born after an ‘unravelling’, during a ‘crisis’. Strauss and Howe select prominent individuals from each generation, pointing to characteristics that define them as archetypal – heroes are John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan; artists: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson; prophets: John Winthrop, Abraham Lincoln; nomads: John Adams, Ulysses Grant. Each generation has a common set of personal characteristics and typical life experiences.

Plenty of kids at less-privileged schools weren’t intensely worried about grades or planning, like the stereotypical millennial

The archetypal scheme is also a theory of how historical change happens. The LifeCourse idea is that the predominance of each archetype in a given generation triggers the advent of the next (as the consultancy’s website puts it: ‘each youth generation tries to correct or compensate for what it perceives as the excesses of the midlife generation in power’). Besides having a very reductive vision of the universality of human nature, Strauss and Howe are futurists; they predict that a major crisis will occur once every 80 years, restarting the generational cycle. While the pair’s ideas seem far-fetched, they have currency in the marketplace: LifeCourse Associates has consulted for brands such as Nike, Cartoon Network, Viacom and the Ford Motor Company; for universities including Arizona State, Dartmouth, Georgetown and the University of Texas, and for the US Army, too.

The commercial success of this pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo is irritating, but also troubling. The dominant US thinkers on the generational question tend to flatten social distinctions, relying on cherry-picked examples and reifying a vision of a ‘society’ that’s made up mostly of the white and middle-class. In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2009 on the pundits and consultants who market information about ‘millennials’ to universities, Eric Hoover described Howe and Strauss’s influential book about that generation, Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation (2000), as a work ‘based on a hodgepodge of anecdotes, statistics, and pop-culture references’ with the only new empirical evidence being a body of around 600 interviews of high-school seniors, all living in wealthy Fairfax County, Virginia.

Hoover interviewed several people in higher education who voiced their doubts about the utility of Howe and Strauss’s approach. Their replies, informed by their experience teaching college students from across the socioeconomic spectrum, show how useless the schematic understanding of ‘millennials’ looks when you’re working with actual people. Palmer H Muntz, then the director of admissions of Lincoln Christian University in Illinois, noticed that plenty of kids he encountered on visits to less-privileged schools weren’t intensely worried about grades or planning, like the stereotypical millennial. Fred A Bonner II, now at Prairie View A & M University in Texas, pointed out that many of the supposed ‘personality traits’ of coddled and pressured millennials were unrecognisable to his black or Hispanic students, or those who grew up with less money. Siva Vaidhyanathan, a cultural historian and media scholar at the University of Virginia, told Hoover: ‘Generational thinking is just a benign form of bigotry.’"



"Ryder had harsh words for the theorists he called ‘generationists’. He argued that thinkers about generation on a large scale had made illogical leaps when theorising the relationship between generations and social change. ‘The fact that social change produces intercohort differentiation and thus contributes to inter-generational conflict,’ he argued, ‘cannot justify a theory that social change is produced by that conflict.’ There was no way to prove causality. The end result, he wrote, was that grand generational theories tended toward ‘arithmetical mysticism.’"



"As the French historian Pierre Nora wrote in 1996, the careful analyst trying to talk about generations will always struggle: ‘The generational concept would make a wonderfully precise instrument if only its precision didn’t make it impossible to apply to the unclassifiable disorder of reality.’ The problem with transferring historical and sociological ways of thinking about generational change into the public sphere is that ‘unclassifiability’ is both terrifying and boring. Big, sweeping explanations of social change sell. Little, careful studies of same-age cohorts, hemmed in on all sides by rich specificity, do not.

Perhaps the pseudoscientific use of supposed ‘generations’ would irk less if it weren’t so often used to demean the young. Millennials, consultants advise prospective employers, feel entitled to good treatment even in entry-level jobs, because they’ve been overpraised their whole lives. Millennials won’t buckle down and buy cars or houses, economists complain; millennials are lurking in their parents’ basements, The New Yorker cartoon stereotype runs, tweeting and texting and posting selfies and avoiding responsibility."



"Popular millennial backlash against the stereotyping of their generation makes use of the same arguments against generational thinking that sociologists and historians have spent years developing. By drawing attention to the effects of the economic situation on their lives, pointing out that human experience isn’t universal and predictable, and calling upon adults to abandon broad assessments in favour of specific understanding, millennials prove the point: generational thinking is seductive, and for some of us it confirms our preconceived prejudices, but it’s fatally flawed as a mode of understanding the world. Real life is not science fiction."
rebeccaonion  generationalthinking  generations  age  ageism  complexity  humans  society  adaptability  independence  history  individuals  neilhowe  williamstrauss  stereotypes  lifecourse  palmermuntz  sivavaidhyanathan  agesegregation  millenials  genx  generationx  generationy  erichoover  karlmannheimaugusteconte  gottfriedleibniz  normanryder  sociology  causality  robertwohl  pierrenora  bigotry  generationalwarfare  malcolmharris  digitalnatives  hypocrisy  via:ayjay 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and America’s cultural generation gap | Brookings Institution
"Underlying these trends is an emerging cultural generation gap, which I write about in my book “Diversity Explosion.” This gap reflects the increasing social distance between older whites—baby boomers and seniors—and younger, more racially diverse Gen Xers and millennials. The former grew up in the homogenous 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, years of low immigration, segregated minorities, and little interaction between the large white population and the mostly black racial minority population. As white baby boomers became older and more concerned with their own finances and economic well-being, they became more conservative on many dimensions, including voting and party identification. Surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center and others show boomers and seniors to be less open to new immigrant groups and minorities, and more averse to a bigger government with more services (and higher taxes) than younger more diverse generations who, in addition to favoring greater government support for domestic programs, are more progressive on an array of social issues, from same-sex marriage to immigration reform. In essence, older white Americans do not see younger Americans as “their” children and grandchildren and have lost a common connection.

This perception needs to be corrected since, as the younger white population declines and older whites retire from the labor force, racial minorities, especially growing new minorities—Hispanics, Asians, and multiracial Americans—are more crucial to the nation’s future. The continued divided politics of race and age simply reinforce this old misperception."
generations  segregation  race  racism  aging  us  2015  generationalwarfare  marcorubio  hillaryclinton  economics  politics  policy  immigration  diversity  minorities 
april 2015 by robertogreco
POSZU :: The Chastised Generation
"But Generation wasn't coddled as a child. Generation isn't weak and stupid. Generation doesn't exist.

There is no such thing as a generation, any more than there is such thing as a particular decade or a century. These are named spans of time, invented by language, named by society, and given laudable or ugly characteristics as any particular person sees fit. There is no Generation that is any particular way. There is only the Dads, and the Moms as well, who have birthed this epochal child for the sole purpose of beating it.

These self-appointed authorities and guardians of the social state are nothing more than the local cultural chamber of commerce. They have one goal—to produce statements of blanket condemnation against any social practice they deem anathema to their own existence. They are conservative by definition, because the systems they seek to maintain are always past-tense, defended against the present-tense. They sit on the throne of accomplishment and are willing to hand down advice, just so long as this advice could not in anyway compromise the legs of their own chair. They are a country club of Yes-Men surrounded by mirrors. And the youth are blocking their light.

Dad and Mom remind Generation of this in every one of their screaming fights. In their threats, whether spoken or implicit, about kicking Generation out of the house or taking it off the family health care plan. There is the constant reminder: you are not doing as well as we did, and so you have failed. This non-existent Generation hears this loud and clear, and solidifies a little more.

And so Generation starts going out at night, to get this existence out of the way, to avoid being in the way. Staying out of the house, hanging out in groups around the mall and the convenience store, Generation gets up to no good. Generation is chased by the cops down the street. Maybe Generation gets away, maybe it doesn't. Maybe Generation is part of a gang, or maybe it isn't."



"But parenting is the precisely the mistake, because there are no parents, and there are no children. Humans are born helpless, unable to move or feed. We require nurturing, or we would die. But the point at which humans can move and feed on their own comes quickly. Within a few years a human can care for its own body. And yet, we continue parenting for another ten, fifteen, twenty years, or longer.

Humans don't need parents. They don't need to be a Generation. They don't need the discipline of their so-called elders and betters, that is disguised as “care”. All of this “care” that we're given! It is unasked for, un-refuseable, unmistakable in its animosity.

Generation has been so coddled! It has had every advantage! So many times have the Dads and the Moms tried to drag up Generation into this more authentic state of humanity known as adulthood, with the reverse-mortgage known as “care”. They give it the best schools, the best food, the best medicine, and the most just punishment. What sort of brat would reject these privileges?

But what is the “care”? It is insult upon insult. It is punishment as a reversal of love. Generation is not so much the Coddled, as it is the Chastised Generation.

Look at what they say about Generation. From the time that it could read, the editorial pages are full of maligning text screaming Generation's name, telling it exactly what is wrong about it. This is a textbook of love, a required text that it must buy for hundreds of dollars each semester. And the teachers will make sure that Generation learns it by heart. Every child needs an education, and needs to know these canonical philosophies."



"Generation dozes off in class, exhausted after another night with no sleep. And what will it miss? Only more lessons about how real Generation is, and how real it's flaws are. A perspective on history that properly portrays the difference between adults and the youth, reinforces the rationale for care and this sort of education, and reminds Generation of what side it is on. As Generation grows up, it needs to be taught who the new Dads and Moms are, whether they are teachers, bosses, bureaucrats, or institutions.

But it doesn't need teachers, and it doesn't need authority. It doesn't need Dad and Mom for its emotional development. It don't need coddling, and it don't need care. What it actually need are allies. What it needs are equals. What it needs are friends. From its friends and equals, Generation can figure out how to be human, and how to collaboratively work with others. From its friends it can learn that it is not Generation at all—but merely billions of individuals. It can discover that all of these people don't owe anything to heritage, to progenitors, to the artificial categories that divide the Dads and Moms from the Generation. A friend is a human of the present-tense, a person of equals with no greater country club than every other human on the face of the earth. The real nurturing nature of this comradeship is what is beaten out of Generation with every fist, every class, every word, from the time it was taught to respond to its name.

We don't need to be a generation. We need to be allowed to become friends.

And this is what Generation realizes, out in the street one night, all night. And why is this night is different from all the other nights? Because on this night, the street is full of friends. And because there are so many friends, the streets are filling with police, the armed Dads and Moms of the State. They are here to dispense more care. There are too many friends here, too many equals, and so they must be made back into children and herded back to the classrooms and made to re-read the books. They beat and gas Generation with love, because Generation is acting out, and needs its punishment.

But suddenly, Generation can see this care for what it is. There is no Generation. There is only us."

[Also here: https://medium.com/p/385e3c13f2 ]
generations  youth  2013  canon  adamrothstein  policestate  patriarchy  cooperation  unschooling  deschooling  children  schooling  education  generationalwarfare  friendship  parenting  respect  generationy  millennials  history  tension  humans  human  conflict  conservatism 
august 2013 by robertogreco

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