Building on the concepts they first developed in Generations
and 13th Gen
, Neil Howe and William Strauss now take on Generation Y, or, as they call them, the Millennials. Unlike their rather distressing portrait of the more reactive Generation X (the 13th Gen), or the negative stereotypes that abound about today's kids, this is all good news. According to Howe and Strauss, this group is poised to become the next great generation, one that will provide a more positive, group-oriented, can-do ethos. Huge in size as well as future impact, they're making a sharp break from Gen-X trends and a direct reversal of boomer youth behavior. Why? Because, as a nation, we've devoted more concern and attention their way than to any generation in, well, generations.
Using their trademark paradigm, which places each generation as part of a larger historical cycle with four generations to a cycle, the authors not only describe these kids as they are now (as the first year sets off for college, the last yet to be born) but launch into projections for the future. A sampling of their potential influence in this decade: pop music will become more melodic and singable and sitcoms more melodramatic and wholesome; there will be a new emphasis on manners, modesty, and old-fashioned gender courtesies; and they'll resolve the long-standing debates about substance abuse. "They will rebel against the culture by cleaning it up, rebel against political cynicism by touting trust, rebel against individualism by stressing teamwork, rebel against adult pessimism by being upbeat, and rebel against social ennui by actually going out and getting a few things done." Scanning the future further, this hero generation will have to confront some major crises. But, for a group that has never known war or famine, will it be an opportunity or a calamity? Much of Millennials Rising is familiar territory rehashed, and the profiles and prophecies just too general. But it's hard to resist this hopeful vision for our children and the future. --Lesley Reed
From Publishers Weekly
The phrase "kids these days" is infused with new meaning in this look at the generation born between 1982 and 2000. Arguing against the conventional wisdom that junior high and high school kids are disrespectful, violent and alienated, Howe and Strauss (Generations; 13th Gen) demonstrate that the children of boomers and of older members of Generation X are actually harder workers and better community builders than any generation since the G.I.s'. "Millennials," the authors argue, are different from Gen-Xers: they have grown up in a multicultural country and have never known a recession; they are wanted children (as the increase in both birth control and fertility drugs demonstrate); and protected by an unprecedented number of child-centered laws. Since birth, they have been spurred to achievement in the home, by yuppie parents, and at school, by standardized tests and "zero tolerance" disciplinary measures. The authors show how easily Millennials have swallowed all the efforts on their behalf. School uniforms, as well as uniform-like Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch clothing, are popular. Teen sex is less frequent, and virginity seems to be a cool new trend. Howe and Strauss run into a bit of trouble when they insist that each generation corrects the mistakes of the previous one. They also attempt to link Millennials to the G.I. generation, suggesting that "hero generations" come in cycles. Despite these stabs at pop sociology, this well-substantiated demographic and cultural overview of the teen landscape is intriguing and highly amusing. Charts, graphs, cartoons. (Sept.)
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