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Generation Gaps in Culture

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 3517 words Published: 24th Feb 2017

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This chapter deals with the main theme which is ‘the Generation Gap’ and also analyses the general notion of Generation Gap. It will discover the causes of Generation Gap as well as revealing the analysis of the causes and the effects on the society in general.

2.2The concept of Generation Gap

‘Generation Gap’ is a term generally used to define the differences in culture, thought and behaviour between younger generations and their elders. It can be also described as the changes taking place when older and younger people are unable to comprehend each other because of their different experiences, attitudes, lifestyles and activities. A generation is “a select group born during the same years that experienced momentous events during significant development cycles” (Kupperschmidt, 2000). “Generation gap” was heavily researched in the 1960s and 1970s (Smith, 2000).

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With the ongoing process of life, there will always be new generations. As society continues to progress and new technological innovations develop, a generation gap will continuously be predominant. “The old are completely convinced that the ideas they have had throughout their lives are the ultimate and ideal. They disregard certain vital issues that are no longer valid in the case of modernity’’ (Neff, 2011). The changes that occur as society evolves will never allow for complete agreement between generations. The Generation Gap is one of the perhaps most debatable issues of the era (Aliampi, 1969).

A generation is based on the range of birth years of a group of people. Generations may span several centuries from the time when people are individuals. Not all members of a generation demonstrate the same personalities. Generation differences were apparent in societal movements or changes (Brunswick, 1970). Generation gaps are unavoidable occurrences that take place in society. These changes in society arise because people become accustomed to an unstable environment. As our society progresses, people tends to change their likes and dislikes. These changes in society are important for development.

2.3History of the Generation Gap

Even though there has been changes between the generations all the time, until the twentieth century the drastic transformations that the term implies were not greatly in evidence. Previously during that era, society was not considerably mobile. Normally, young people were living in extended families. They were either working on their personal farm or in a relative business. With the introduction of TV and shows, the youngsters were exposed to traditional impacts unfamiliar to their own relatives and values (Adcox, 2015). The 1920s presented the younger generation to jazz melody and disco galleries, consequently constructing a gap between them and their seniors. But the actual reason behind the widening of the generation gap lies in the 1950s (Baby Boomers) when the soldiers had just come back from wars and started having kin. The veteran was actually a little harsh in nature and disliked the young who were greatly influenced by the arrival of the rock way of life. The generation gap of the 1960’s was because the older generation had severe values that the younger generation disagreed and they rebelled. Different diversions of pop culture were created, like Rock and Roll, Discos, and hippies. The following great gap was generated in 1980s that presented the MTV era (Pop, Rock, etc.) come from all parts covering the new generation completely different from their seniors. This gap begun widening enormously in the 1990s and now prolonged in leaps and bounds (The Generation Gap in India).

2.4Types of Generations

2.4.1Generation 1 (1900s – 1920s)

The generation of the 1900s – 1920s had a life expectancy of 47 years. Families were outsized during that time and infant death was high. Around a fifth of women were losing their lives in childbirth. Delivery was done at home itself. They were doing teamwork, accepting the hierarchical chain of command and performing all the task without complaining (Codrington, 2008). Tradition and history guided their attitudes and beliefs. Individuals of this generation were “past oriented and history absorbed” (Zemke et al., 2000, p.39). This generation were loyal and patriotic (Smith, 2011). People of this generation were unlikely to make complaints regarding conditions in which they sense uncomfortable (Zemke et al., 2000).

2.4.2Silent Generation (1920s – 1945s)

The Silent Generation valued family and patriotism. They had a parent remaining at home to look after the offspring, favoured dependability, and remained with one company over time (Allen, 2004). They were brought up in serious intervals when everybody were obliged to work. They were conventional and working hard as they hated getting into debts. They considered that by entire hard work, they could achieve success (Codrington, 2008).

2.4.3Baby Boomers (1946s – 1960s)

Baby boomers have been identified as being good at relationships. They respected others rights and did not find mistakes on others (Rath, 1999 and Zemke et al., 2000). Baby Boomers “may not agree with stands and opinions of every part of the cohort group or exhibit the same behaviour in the same situations, but they do, in their hearts, understand one another” (Zemke et al., 2000, p.72). They are individuals who work to earn their living and willing to sacrifice to attain success (Kerstein, 2014). They like adventure and tend to take risks. They are the primary generation to realise lifetime unemployment no longer exist, so job security means nothing to them, but they consider job satisfaction. They are the first generation to divorce in a large extent and at a younger age than the prior generations (Soroptimist, 2010).

2.4.4Generation X (1960s – 1989s)

The generation X raised up undergoing an era of crises. Generation x is often considered as the “lost or overlooked generation” (Ware et al., 2007, p.59). They were the first offspring in the olden times that mothers could take pills not to have. Throughout the turbulent era of the 1970s, majority of the generation X grew up (Smith, 2011). They work to have a life not live to work, they struggle to have balance in their lives. They are spiritual explorers who have faith in supernatural (Codrington, 2008). They are independent and are determined to be responsible and in control. They focus on their goals and solve problems (Soroptimist, 2010).

2.4.5Generation Y (1989s – 2000s)

Generation Y are spoilt by computers and intense technological advances. One of the foremost features of this generation is their relaxation with technology and being good at it (Kersten, 2002 and Niemiec, 2000). They are the first generation to grow up with internet and they are dependent on technology (Soroptimist, 2010). They are born with a micro-chip in the mouth instead of a golden or silver spoon. This generation considers that because of technology, task can be done everywhere (Smith, 2011). They are self-confident and egotistical as well (Codrington, 2008). A majority of generation Y were familiar with “divorce, drugs, sex, AIDS, gangs and guns” (Zemke et. al., 2000, p.136). This generation committed to work in group for development and this has also been an indicative of their workplace conducts (Zemke et al., 2000).

2.5.The Notion of Generation Gap

Generation gap has been considered as an unavoidable obstacle for the communications between the young and the old ones. These conflicts are normally arise as a result of urbanization, industrial development and family mobility (Bengtson and Achenbaum, 1993). The physical separation of the youngsters and the elders has led to a lack of consistent intergenerational connection and a rise in misperceptions and misunderstanding between the young and old generation (Newman, 1997).

Becker (2000) stated that “distinct generations emerge as a result of the effects of discontinuous macro-social change on individual behaviour during the formative period of the life course. As soon as a new generation has developed, the development of its members before and after the formative period can be studied together with research on institutions related to the new generation” (p. 117). Mead (1970) stressed on the fact that, “Adults today know more about change than any previous generations. So we are set apart both from earlier generations and from the young who have rejected the past and all that their elders are making of the present” (p. 79). Gutman (1985) contended that in the modern society “the present younger generation had been socialized into believing that ‘young is beautiful, old is ugly’ in retaliation to if ‘the young knew and the old could’ (Jefferys 1997, p. 82).

Chow (2001) pointed that youngsters care and give attention to their parents as well as accepting and obeying their preferences in the form of showing respect them. He also suggested that, “children nowadays are not as keen to consult their parents as in the past” in both side on marriage and job seeking. The social circumstance have evolved in such a way that they have often made the guidance of parents irrelevant and in appropriate (Chow, 2001). Children failed in fulfilling parents hopes on obedience when making their lifetime choices. Thus, this is one of the key issues in the reoccurrence of the ‘generation gap’.

2.6.The Causes of Generation Gap

Generation gap has developed in society presently from numerous factors such as technological innovations, fashion, the evolution of the media, gifts, communication, attitudes, and sex. These aspects cause people to change in different ways that changes human opinion of what is right and generally acceptable, or to make a distinction between good and bad. These factors may cause discrepancies between generations, but they overall lead to positive development in society.

2.6.1Technological innovation

At an early age, the younger generation starts making the use of technology and they never overwhelmed by it (Kelty, 2000). As the youth have grown up with technology and developed flexible skill, they are now considered as ‘digital natives’ (Courtois et al., 2009). The younger generation ‘know what to do’ with different updated technologies as they make the use of them more often with the pre-existing technology (Facer et al., 2001). Older generation find it difficult to learn how to use technology unlike the younger generation (Kelty, 2000). They have the feeling of sore when there are advancement in technology. Throughout the previous three eras, the degree and speed of technological advancement has brought new interest in generational differences (Clark. 2009 and Livingstone, 2003).


One of the most important creations that has influenced the younger generation is the Television. Nowadays, television is superb compared to the television that the older generation. The television that the older generation remembers is dissimilar, it contained fewer channels and were available mostly in black and white and it was much smaller (Neff, 2011). Because of these changes, a big generation gap has developed concerning entertainment and the ethics resulted from it. Televisions turned to be more predominant in children’s bedrooms (Jordan et al., 2010). Video game strategies are no more restricted to comforts that assign to televisions as it was long ago, however they are now accessible in the form of handheld devices as cellular phones (Vaterlaus, 2012). The multi-uses of television have widen the gap between the generations. The T.V remote control has become too complex for the old person who used to on/off button. The old may not necessarily be uneducated but they are not a tech-savvy as their children and grand-children. The same goes for the other gadgets such as video games, smart phones, iPad and iPhone.


The Internet has had the major influence of widening the generation gap. It is the foremost persuasive technological innovation in the world nowadays with its multiple uses (Neff, 2011). The technology used to reach the internet has also advanced. The private desktop computer transformed into the laptops, and tablets. The internet can be currently reached on strategies as small as iPods and cell phones anytime and anywhere. Cell phones that permit internet access are referred to as “Smartphones” (Vaterlaus, 2012). A technology revolution has been produced by the internet in the younger generation.

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Internet is used by the younger generation every day and it also permit children to develop a sense of freedom. These changes in ethics have been prominent as main differences between generations (Neff, 2011). Consequently, these technological inventions lead to a rise in the width of the generation gap in the world nowadays. The internet is currently used “to play video games, view movies, watch television shows, and download music” (Jones, 2009). Juveniles who make use of the internet are no more restricted to view media, however they may communicate informally with others across the globe (Courtois, Mechant, De Marez and Verleye, 2009). Email, social-networking, chat rooms, and video chat permit communication to be immediate and even face-to-face (Jones, 2009).

2.6.4.Evolution of the Media

Changes in media is another feature that causes generation gap to develop. Music, due to the increasing in technology is changing fast and new melodies are continuously released. The primary foremost apparent change among the two generations is the introduction of CD and MP3 player. Older generations grew up with records and record players. Music was not something that was freely accessible. Nowadays children have the facility of downloading songs and within minutes can listen to it in the earphones anywhere they want. This definitely ease causes the generation gap to widen. Not only have the types of melodies changed but the forms of genres also. For the older generation, the melodies of nowadays are basically noise for them, there are lack of beat and softer songs of the historical. “People are obsessed on the tune of their early life, the tastes keep on varying and it is inevitable and can’t be stopped”. The two generations will certainly disagree on what is noble music. Because of this, a generation gap is unavoidable. With the on-going changes in art and music, the gap will only continue to widen (Neff, 2011).


The way youngsters dress and appear are some of the most apparent, yet main factors in widening the generation gap. Appearances frequently reveal how one feels and their way of behaving. When the older generation was younger, they were more traditional, and it was revealed in their way of dressing. They dressed in a manner that was generally suitable at that time. The advancement of outfit displays a deliberate change from a traditional to liberal attitude. The film star heartened a movement into liberal dressing that certainly helps widening the existing generation gap. This particular change identifies a fashion choice that usually the young embrace and the old deprecate. This was the final step into varying the standards of dress. Women’s evolution into freedom permitted for changes in the societal approval of this revealing show. As these values have transformed, the generation gap has only grown (Neff, 2011).


The two generations adopted different attitudes. Most parents accept a straight forward expression and do not display their emotional state while interacting with their offspring. Moreover, they yell at their children more often or even give them physical punishment. These are due to the traditional practice. On the contrary, children dislike to obey their parents’ instructions as they consider that there are no reasons to support why parents’ opinions are correct. Furthermore, youngsters do not want their parents to treat them as little kids. They believe that they are grown-ups and they want to be free from parent’s control and refuse their guidelines. This helps them to achieve more self-esteem. Overall, both parents and their children do not perceive things from the same perspectives. As a result, misinterpretation is a great cause for the formation of generation gap (Kwok, 2010).


The generation gap is considered to be one of the greatest communication failure (Aliampi, 1969). There is lack of time for communication. A majority of the parents spend less time to communicate with and listen to their children. Parents are unable to balance their time between work and family due to work overload. On the other hand, children are not sharing their day to day activities with their parents (Kwok. 2010). Social communication is moving with the fast paced nature of technological improvement (Vaterlaus, 2012). Communication channels offered by the internet are developing rapidly. Cell phone features comprise of speaking and texting which have convert into a consistent means of social communication for adolescents (Jones, 2009). Cell phone communication has become a family affair (Vaterlaus, 2012). There are less face to face conversation between parents and children, thus this causes the gap to widen.


Sex has always been an issue on which the generations vary intensely. There are different conceptions of sex between the two generations. The way they think how to conceive are unlike. For the older generation, sex is a taboo. The young should not talk about sex and they cannot fall in love and have sex before marriage, punishment was very severe long ago. Marriage was being broken in the past because of virginity. On the contrary, for the younger generation sex is a normal activity. Sex before marriage is no more a sin for the young. This is shocking for the older generation. Teenage pregnancy was very rare before and now because of no sexual education, sex is reaching the youngsters. There is a big gap between the two generations. That gap has narrowed, but not all the time because younger generation have become more and more permissive (Smith, 2004).


Gifts play a key role in widening the gap between older and younger generation. The older generation were used to the custom of giving monetary gifts to the young (Nguyen, 2008). But today there is a big gap, gifts should be offered according to the demand of the young, they prefer gadgets. Younger generations of nowadays expect IPhone, IPad, mobile phones and laptops (Waterlow, 2012). When older generations are unable to accomplish the desires of the young, they have a sense of unfulfilment because the gift is not according to the social norm. The difference in utility value of a gift is enormous. The older generation’s concept of utility is quite opposed to the young. The older generation views utility of gift in terms of time associated to solidity and absolutism. The young has been brought up to consider gifts as something which are passing fads.


This chapter has dealt with the idea of generation gap which is a universal phenomenon existing since time immemorial. Each period of human history has witness the causes of generation gap and tried to explain today we are perhaps most up to bring a clear explanation and have a better understanding about Generation Gap.


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