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April 4, 2009

Wikipedia: Baby Boom Generation

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Baby Boom Generation is a term which describes a generation of Americans born during the middle part of the 20th Century. The birth years of the Baby Boom Generation are the subject of controversy. Historically, everyone born during the post-World War II demographic boom in births was called part of the Baby Boom Generation. However, as numerous experts have pointed out, generations have always been based on the shared formative experiences of its members; this was the only time a generation had been defined by the fertility rates of its members’ parents.[1][2] Many analysts have defined two separate cultural generations born during this demographic birth boom: An older generation called the Baby Boom Generation, and a younger generation usually called Generation Jones. [3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11] This article deals with the Baby Boom Generation from a cultural perspective, while separate articles deal with Generation Jones, and with the Post-World War II baby boom.

The Baby Boom Generation is stereotypically associated with cultural touchstones like the Howdy Doody children’s TV show, Woodstock, and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. In general, baby boomers are associated with a rejection or redefinition of traditional values; however, many commentators have disputed the extent of that rejection, noting the widespread continuity of values with older and younger generations. In Europe and North America boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up in a time of affluence.[12] As a group, they were the healthiest, and wealthiest generation to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time.[13]

One of the unique features of Boomers was that they tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from those that had come before. In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about.[14] This rhetoric had an important impact in the self perceptions of the boomers, as well as their tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon.

The baby boom has been described variously as a “shockwave”[12] and as “the pig in the python.”[13] By the sheer force of its numbers, the boomers were a demographic bulge which remodeled society as it passed through it.

Contents

Characteristics

Size and economic impact

This cohort shares characteristics like higher rates of participation in higher education than previous generations and an assumption of lifelong prosperity and entitlement developed during their childhood in the 1950s.

The age wave theory suggests an impending economic slowdown when the boomers start retiring during 2007-2009.[15]

Cultural identity

Boomers grew up at a time of dramatic social change. In the United States, that social change marked the generation with a strong cultural cleavage, between the proponents of social change and the more conservative. Some analysts believe this cleavage has played out politically since the time of the Vietnam War, to some extent defining the political landscape and division in the country.[16][17]

In 1993, Time magazine reported on the religious affiliations of baby boomers. Citing Wade Clark Roof, a sociologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the articles stated that about 42% of baby boomers were dropouts from formal religion, a third had never strayed from church, and one-fourth of boomers were returning to religious practice. The boomers returning to religion were “usually less tied to tradition and less dependable as church members than the loyalists. They are also more liberal, which deepens rifts over issues like abortion and homosexuality.”[18]

It is jokingly said that, whatever year they were born, boomers were coming of age at the same time across the world; so that Britain was undergoing Beatlemania while people in the United States were driving over to Woodstock, organizing against the Vietnam War, or fighting and dying in the same war; boomers in Italy were dressing in mod clothes and “buying the world a Coke”; boomers in India were seeking new philosophical discoveries; American boomers in Canada had just found a new home and escaped the draft; Canadian Boomers were organizing support for Pierre Trudeau. It is precisely because of these experiences that many believe those born in the second half of the birth boom belong to another generation, as events that defined their coming of age have little in common with leading or core boomers.

The boomers found that their music, most notably rock and roll, was another expression of their generational identity. Transistor radios were personal devices that allowed teenagers to listen to The Beatles and The Motown Sound.

In the 1985 study of US generational cohorts by Schuman and Scott, a broad sample of adults was asked, “What world events over the past 50 years were especially important to them?”[19] For the Baby Boom Generation (this particular study used the years 1946-1955 for this Boomer cohort, although the exact birth years are currently controversial), the results were:

    • Memorable events: assassination of JFK, Robert Kennedy,Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., political unrest, walk on the moon, risk of the draft into the Vietnam War, anti-war protests, social experimentation, sexual freedom, drug experimentation, civil rights movement, environmental movement, women’s movement, protests and riots,Woodstock, mainstream rock from the Beatles to Jimi Hendrix experimentation with various intoxicating recreational substances
    • Key characteristics: experimental, individualism, free spirited, social cause oriented
    • Key members: Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush

Aging and end of life issues

As of 1998, it was reported that as a generation boomers had tended to avoid discussions and planning for their demise and avoided much long term planning.[20] However, beginning at least as early as that year, there has been a growing dialogue on how to manage aging and end of life issues as the generation ages.[21] In particular, a number of commentators have argued that Baby Boomers are in a state of denial regarding their own aging and death and are leaving an undue economic burden on their children for their retirement and care.[22][23][24]

Impact on history and culture

An indication of the importance put on the impact of the Boomer Generation was the selection by Time magazine of the Baby Boom Generation as its 1967 “Man of the Year.” As Claire Raines points out in ‘Beyond Generation X’, “never before in history had youth been so idealized as they were at this moment.” When Generation X came along it had much to live up to and to some degree has always lived in the shadow of the Boomers, more often criticized (‘slackers’, ‘whiners’ and ‘the doom generation’) than not.[25]

See also

  • Demographics of the United States
  • Generation gap

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.newsweek.com/id/107583
  2. ^ http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20090127/column27_st.art.htm
  3. ^ http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/archives/display_detail.htm?StoryID=91159
  4. ^ http://www.thirdage.com/holidays-celebrations/birthday-gift-to-obama-your-generational-identity-revealed
  5. ^ http://research2000.us/2006/11/01/generation-jones-could-be-key-to-06-midterm-election-results/
  6. ^ http://www.generationjones.co.uk/gen_jones/
  7. ^ Noveck, Jocelyn (2009-01-11), “In Obama, many see an end to the baby boomer era”. [1].
  8. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uZSiKd0B54
  9. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7vbsVu75do
  10. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSB5l3t1iRA
  11. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIrjn50E2_I
  12. ^ a b Owram, Doug (1997), Born at the Right Time, Toronto: Univ Of Toronto Press, p. x, ISBN 0802080863 
  13. ^ a b Jones, Landon (1980), Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation, New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan 
  14. ^ Owram, Doug (1997), Born at the Right Time, Toronto: Univ Of Toronto Press, p. xi, ISBN 0802080863 
  15. ^ Economy faces bigger bust without Boomers, Reuters, Jan 31, 2008
  16. ^ http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200712/obama Goodbye to all of that
  17. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/21/weekinreview/21broder.html
  18. ^ Ostling, Richard N., “The Church Search”, 5 April 1993 Time article retrieved 2007-01-27
  19. ^ Schuman, H. and Scott, J. (1989), Generations and collective memories, American Psychological Review, vol. 54, 1989, pp. 359-81.
  20. ^ Baby boomers lag in preparing funerals, estates, et al The Business Journal of Milwaukee – December 18, 1998 by Robert Mullins retrieved 2007-06-18
  21. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/specials/women/warchive/980330_865.html Article in the New York Times, March 30, 1998]
  22. ^ Article from the Associated Press, March 5, 2004
  23. ^ Article in the San Diego Union-Tribune
  24. ^ Article by Robert Samuelson
  25. ^ 1997, Beyond generation X, Crisp Publications, USA.

External links

  • Edward Cheung, “Baby Boomers, Generation X and Social Cycles: North American Long-waves”. Long Wave Press, 2007.
  • Excerpts from Boomer Nation on Plymouth State University Website
  • Baby Boomers at the Open Directory Project
This text comes from Wikipedia. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikipedia.

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