Youth Culture

Richard Kahn

University of North Dakota

Douglas Kellner

University of California, Los Angeles

‘Childhood’ and ‘youth’ are socially constructed conceptions of age and not biological givens (Ariès 1962). The idea that a transitional period of youth occurs between childhood and adulthood is a relatively recent invention, beginning with Rousseau’s novel Émile in mid-eighteenth-century Europe, which celebrated childhood and delineated stages of youth. Generational terms referring to the ‘lost generation’ of the 1920s, or the ‘silent generation’ post-World War II (1950s), began emerging in the twentieth century. During the post-World War II period, ‘youth culture’ was widely used to describe the growing music and rock culture and consumer and fashion styles of the era that quickly mutated into the counterculture of the 1960s.

Since then there has been a flourishing industry in sociology, → cultural studies, and popular media (→ Popular Communication) designing terms like ‘baby-boomers’ – those who were born in the mid-1940s and the postwar period and came of age during the affluence of the 1950s and 1960s (Gillon 2004).This generation were the beneficiaries of an unprecedented economic expansion and a highly self-conscious sense of generation, having gone through the turbulent 1960s together and emerged in many cases to prosperity and success in corporate, academic, and political life in the 1970s and beyond.

Theorists in the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies ...

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