Friday, 25 April 2014

Generations, Myths, Stereotypes & Iris Apfel

Theorists' descriptions of the four generations (The Traditional Generation, The Baby Boom Generation, Generation X, Generation Y) are criticised to be conclusions from stereotypes and pseudo-science. There are additional limitations as they only refer to the US-American culture.

"The Traditional Generation" (1925-1945) which is - according to the authors - shaped by the Great Depression and World War II is described as a conservative, rule-oriented, loyal, self-sacrificing generation that is respectful of authority and values family and patriotism.

"The Baby-Boom Generation" (1946-1964) that is shaped by prosperity, the 1960s youth culture and the Vietnam War is an idealistic, optimistic, driven generation that is loyal to an organisation, focuses on consensus-building and places work and material success at the centre of life.


"Generation X" (1964-1980) which is shaped by dual-career and single-parent households, globalisation and technology is cynical, pessimistic, alienated, individual, independent, self-sufficient, depressed and skeptical of authority. This generation is described as one that is comfortable with change and diversity and hardly remains loyal to a company.

"Generation Y" (1981-1999) is shaped by computers, 9/11 and economic expansion, is self-centred, narcissistic, alienated, cynical, individualistic, patriotic, inherently social and extremely technology-literate. Generation Y is comfortable with change, considers job security as unimportant, values input into decisions and actions and has a high need for praise.

The traits are based on descriptions from popular media. They are pure myths, stereotypes and are not evidence-based (Blauth et al., 2011).

Iris Apfel is an interior designer, fashion icon and a "guru" in New York's fashion scene (via). As she was born in 1921, she does not fall into the generational classifications listed here. Unfortunately. Stereotypes of her generation could have been as entertaining as the others.

Blauth, C., McDaniel, J., Perrin, C. & Perrin, P. B. (2011) Age-Based Stereotypes: Silent Killer of Collaboration and Productivity.
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  1. Woooh! Super, she became a NYC icon!

    1. This woman surely has what it takes to become an icon ;-)
      Thanks, Derek!

  2. Derek, go ahead, please ;-)

    Sweet, Laura!!!!!

  3. Lovely posting!!!!! Thanks, Laura!

  4. Made-up US-centric generations. Great posting, Laura!

    1. Highly US-centric, indeed: both the economic and political circumstances that are supposed to shape generations in general. Thank you, Kenneth!