Youth Culture and Social Change

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Youth Culture and Social Change

Introduction

Culture can be defined as the shared values, customs, beliefs, behaviours and knowledge of a particular group or society.[1] Similarly, youth culture refers to the shared values, etc. of individuals in their teenage and young adult years. During the last century, the world around us has changed greatly, and as a result of this, so too has youth culture changed. In this investigation, the ways in which social change has influenced youth culture from the 1960’s to today will be explored and how changes in factors such as the media and technology, male/female roles in relationships, attitudes towards parents and elders and values have played a part in shaping this.

Methodology

While the internet, media and some textbooks were used as means of material, a great deal of information emanated from the four interviews that were conducted: two youth from the 1960’s –Lawern and Davis, and two youths of today –Trezise and Thomas.

Discussion

The effect of the media and technology
The media has had a drastic change since the 1960’s and is perhaps one of the most significant influencers of today’s youth. ‘The controversial issues that are seen in the media!’ said Lawern when asked about one of the main differences from her teenage years and now.[2] ‘There was a lot less of a variety of issues back then. Subjects, such as body image, would have never been exposed to us.’ she said. Davis also agreed saying ‘There was never any differing ideas in the media and as a result people would usually have the same views as you.’[3]

In today’s media, teenagers and young adults are under constant exposure to issues that are very controversial. Gay marriage, war and environment complications are just some of these examples. ‘We are repeatedly bombarded with all these different views from the media’ said Tresize when asked about one of the impacts of the media[4]. ‘People are expected to have their own views on a whole range of different matters’ he said. Comparatively, Thomas had a differing view on the topic saying that the media gives unnecessary pressure to teenagers and young adults. ‘It has created the unnecessary pressure of having to keep up with the latest devices and/or trends.”[5] From this, it can be seen that the media has brought about a youth that is socially, culturally and globally aware but one that is also a subject to the mass advertising that fosters consumerism in teenagers and young people.

There is no doubt technology has changed dramatically also. In this day and age, it is said that teenagers and young adults are spending more than 16 hours a week online.[6] ‘I use the internet for almost everything: school, contacting friends and family, even checking the weather.’ says Trezise. Thomas echoes Trezise’s statement, but also found that as a result of spending so much time online, there was an increasingly lacking amount of face-to-face interaction in teenagers and young adults today. A very common issue related to the youth of today, the increase in technological devices is said to be a major factor of decline in social interaction.[7]

When asked to express their views on this statistic, both Davis and Lawren replied ‘the advancements of all these technological devices, the internet included, have created a very anti-social generation.’ In the 60’s, many teenagers and young adults spent a lot of their free time playing sport and hanging out with friends.[8] This was reinforced by Davis, who said ‘In our free time, we would usually gather at a park that was about a block and a half from my house.’

Changes in male/female roles in relationships
Unlike in the 1960's, where the roles of men and women were somewhat well defined and stable, recent years have brought remarkable change. Back then, the typical Australian family structure of the “Breadwinning father, stay-at-home mother and children was still quite prominent.[9] Through their mothers and...
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