Adolescence, Part III: The Demographic Shift

At one time, our culture was less segmented. Classrooms often had children of multiple ages. Children entered the adult world sooner, without going through an intermediate cultural phase as a teenager. Transitional? Yes. Another culture? No. In the process, many children and teens were taken under the wing of adults for training in a vocation. Through changes in education and industry, this started to change.

Suddenly, there were more years of schooling, and in a way, less ways to apply it in a meaningful way. There was more free time, and an emerging youth culture. America has changed very fast since the Industrial Revolution. That cannot be understated. Part of the reason for the disconnect between youth and adults is because there is a disconnect. Youth grow up in a culture very, very different than adults now. This is a dramatic historical shift. In the year 2008, it’s possible for siblings to grow up in very different cultures.

So, in the 1900s, with war tearing apart people’s idealism and lives, the rise of mass destruction, disillusionment with the wisdom of older leaders, the creation of a new adolescent culture, and increasing segmentation of our culture at large, America set itself up for generational cultures. Even this is oversimplifying it, because with the Melting Pot, there have always been subcultures within the dominant culture. It’s just that now, it’s even debatable whether there is a dominant culture, or any real culture at all.

Marketing has followed scientific principles in an effort to make a science out of persuasion. Identifying demographics is part of that process…separating people into categories, stages of life, so as to relate to their needs. I’m involved in marketing, so I see the value in it. The problem is, as we now realize, is people aren’t as easy to categorize as was once thought, even within a demograhic.

Next topic: The Church and Demographics