Age and Generation (Society Now) by Mike O'Donnell

By Mike O'Donnell

Age and iteration introduces scholars to the most sociological and anthropological matters surrounding this subject, from adolescence to outdated age, and focuses, particularly, on formative years tradition.

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The British people in the 1950s, including most of the working class, were much wealthier than in the 1930s, just as today they are substantially wealthier than in the 1950s. Young people had a relatively large share of this wealth. Abrams is also right in observing the growth of a mass youth market. This does not mean that all young people buy the same things, but that the same things are there for all to buy. Particular styles in clothes or 36 music may begin at the grass roots, but a whole commercial system stands ready to package them for ‘the mass’.

As early as the 1920s Karl Mannheim coined the term ‘generational unit’ to describe the fact that different groups within the same generation acquired distinct identities. Today we know such factors as class and race 26 cut across youth, and help to produce a variety of youth subcultures (see Chapters 3 and 4). Although there is no universal youth culture, two elements in modern society affect nearly all young people in one way or another. These are (1) compulsory education, and (2) the relative affluence of modern youth in relation to the consumer goods industry.

In the 1980s, of course, the so-called ‘economic facts of life’ have changed again, and the young do not easily find employment in either the manufacturing or service sectors. Second, Abrams found that ‘the teenage market is almost entirely working class’ (among whom he includes routine white-collar 29 employees). He points out that middle-class teenagers starting either college or a career had less disposable income and, I would suggest, less free time. For the 1950s, at least, Abrams’s observations seem correct.

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