A short introduction of the different Social Generations in the Western World
There is a lot of discussion and content online about different Social Generations and how they differ from each other. For sure you have heard of terms like: Baby Boomers, Millennials, Generation Z, etc. You may have a vague idea of who’s who, but I believe it’s better to explore the topic in some more detail. And although these terms are just generalisations, and by all means not every individual adheres to the same rules or behaves exactly as their peers of the same age group, there are certainly some common characteristics. Let’s try to find out in this short post.
The Greatest Generation (1901 – 1927)
The Greatest Generation, also known as “G.I. Generation” or “World War II Generation” is typically defined as those born between 1901 to 1927. They lived through the Great depression and the World War II, which shaped their values and beliefs. This experience made them resilient, resourceful and determined to overcome adversity. People belonging to this generation are known for their strong moral character and leadership, as well as their sense of sacrifice and duty. They also had a strong sense of community and family, and they were characterized by their hard work and strong work ethic.
The Silent Generation (1928 – 1945)
The Silent Generation is typically defined as those born between 1928 and 1945. Coming of age during the Cold War & the Civil Rights Movement, they are known for their stoicism, strong work ethic, and sense of duty. They were less vocal and less politically active (“silent majority”), keeping their heads down and working hard, thus earning themselves the “silent” label. They are known for their conservative values and traditional beliefs, and for their focus on family and community. Also, they were known for their loyalty to their employers, which led to a more stable workforce.
Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964)
The Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, is known for its large population size, significant cultural and political influence. They were born after World War II, during a period of prosperity, optimism and an increase in birth rate. It is a generation known for their idealism and their desire to change the world. Known for their counter-culture movement, civil rights movement, women’s rights movement, and the anti-war movement, they challenged traditional social norms. As the first generation to have access to television, this helped shape their worldview and values. They also had a significant impact on the economy, as a large consumer demographic group and drove the growth of many industries.
Generation X (1965 – 1980)
Generation X, or Gen X for short, are those born between 1965 and 1980. This generation is known for its skepticism and individualism, as well as its early adoption of new technologies. They were the first generation to have access to personal computers and were raised with MTV and videocassettes. Also, they were known for their independent spirit and their ability to adapt to change. They were the first generation to have a significant number of working mothers, which led to a more diverse and dynamic family structure.
Millennials (1981 – 1996)
Millennials or Generation Y is the demographic cohort of those born between 1981 and 1996. They belonged to the first generation grown up with the internet and mobile devices, which helped shape their worldview and values. They were also known for their diverse backgrounds, which led to a more dynamic and tolerant society. Additionally, they were also known for their progressive attitudes on social issues, such as gender and sexual identity, race relations, and the environment. Millennials tend to delay traditional milestones such as marriage, homeownership and parenthood. This can be a result of economic factors, but also due to personal aspirations and life expectations.
Generation Z (1997 – 2012)
In Generation Z typically belong those who were born between 1997 and 2012. This is the youngest generation in existence with adult members (there is a younger generation in existence already but consists of only underage members). This is a generation with digital native status, having been born during the rise of the internet and mobile technology. They were grown up with smartphones and social media. This has had a significant impact on their communication and socialization habits. They are diverse, globally-minded and more tolerant. Also, they are generally considered to be more accepting of social change and open to different cultures & lifestyles compared to previous generations.
Generation Alpha (2013 ~ 2025)
This is the generation succeeding the Gen Z. They were born entirely in 21st century. As they are still kids and the youngest generation currently in existence, not many characteristic have been identified for them. They are often referred to as the “digital natives”, as they have grown up with technology being a constant presence in their lives.
This is certainly a very brief study of Social Generations. If you want to find out more, I suggest you visit Wikipedia’s articles. They provide a great wealth of information and analysis of all of those Generations. Lastly, I would mention once more that these are generalizations and not all individuals within a generation conform to the characteristics associated with their generation.