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Generational stereotypes: How the few define the many

by on September 11, 2014

Once again, a plea to resist generational stereotypes in the form of a blog post here in The Guardian.

This time the plea is made on behalf of Millennials and specifically in relation to work issues. The author says:
“There is more loathing for my cohort than for any other generation in the workplace. We’re described as materialistic, politically disengaged, narcissistic and obsessed with technology. Yet, as with any generalisation, many of us are the inverse of that portrayal. Some of us hate the spotlight and long to live off the grid.”

In other words she calls for a rejection of the generalisations that we’ve seen and blogged about not just about Millennials but other generations such as Baby Boomers and the Lost Generation. What’s interesting is that the author says that the stereotypical characteristics of her generation (a sense of entitlement and being narcissistic) are the traits of only a few and then are a function of their privileged class background and individual personality traits.

This reminded me of a point made by Professor Julia Twigg at the British Academy debate on the ageing society earlier this year. She argued then that the concept of Baby Boomers is a ‘classed’ one since it is largely based on consumption, part of an attempt to present positive view of ageing. So is it perhaps the case that, for all generations, the few come to define the many?

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