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Today's Youth: Efficient, Harmonious and Creative

by Thomas Pany Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006 at 1:57 AM

For 40% in England, neither career nor consumption are in first place in their desires but downshifting, exchanging a financially attractive but stress-filled career for a less streneous but more fulfilling way of life with less income.


Efficient, harmonious and creative. The only problem is: Who wants them?

By Thomas Pany

[This article published in the German-English cyber journal Telepolis, 9/22/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

Since 1953, we have heard reports on the current values and future expectations of German youth… As a central trend, the 2006 study “A Pragmatic Generation under Pressure” (1) published yesterday identified “a constructive attitude to society: under whose surface “uneasiness and irritation” spread.

The study presents youth as responsible social engineers. It tells of the great respect of y8outh for the older generation. 72 percent of young persons are convinced one needs a family to live really happily. Nearly three-fourths of 18-21 year old youths still live with their parents. An overwhelming 90 percent say they get along fine with their parents and the large majority, over 70%, want to raise their children the same way. Harmony exists between the generations.

The answers of 2532 youth from 12 to 25 years of age to a hundred questions show that diligence and ambition are important and mean much to them alongside family, friendship, partnership and personal responsibility. The striving for security and order was completed by a striving for personal independence and creativity that rose compared to the 2002 study. Modern and traditional values mix in life orientations of young persons,” we read in the summary. (2)

The idyllic still life is joined with other modern elements. Every second youth has a “rather confident” idea of his or her own future. 42 percent see it “rather mixed” and eight percent “rather dismal.” In the preceding study, these numbers were better. There 56% were confident, 37 percent had mixed feelings and 6 percent saw a bleak future. The explanation for the lower confidence could lie in anxiety about loss of their job. A large majority – 69 percent of youth – fears this loss. The notorious anxiety of youth of not being needed is combined with worries about economic development and increasing poverty.

Despite the harmony between the generations and the clear family orientation among youth, a trend can be recognized concerning the family that demography cannot calm:

The number of young adults who forego their own children and family grows. It isn’t that young women do not want to have their own children. But they see themselves confronted with many problems in founding a family because training, vocational integration and partnership in founding a family are compressed in a very short time frame – the so-called rush hour of life. Young women see very sensitively the problems connected with the rising generation and advancing in occupational life.

The young women also demonstrated that the term “battle of the genders” (instead of the “battle of the generations”) was more appropriate. “Young women will push on the performance pedal. Women will become the new education elite,” the study coordinator Hurrelmann summarized documenting the greater academic success and greater ambition of young women.

What about young men? They remain at home longer, in the so-called “Hotel Mama” and are in school more often (20 percent against 14% of young women)… The co-author of the study Ulrich Schneckloth recommends the “cooperative education style” relying on collaboration and mutual negotiation.” In this way, youths can learn to cope better in different roles.

This is also the only way to overcome the male stereotype. No harshness and no severity help here.

A youth ready for performance, pragmatic and open to modern demands, a partnership orientation with a desire for independent conduct, affirmation of desirable secondary virtues and established conservative institutions like the church (without supporting rightwing faith) make for a good letter of application. The problem is only who wants them. This is more a problem for the so-called `education distant’ than for those with a good education. The gap between academic children and youths with poor circumstances has become greater, the study concludes.

Two remarks on the Hurrelmannian conclusion on the “constructive attitude to society” should be underscored. This positive attitude could change if developments increase the anxiety of vocational future. Younger persons in England, as shown by an analysis (3) of employees under 35, are preoccupied in their dreams with something that seems out of fashion in Germany, the exodus from stress. For 40%, neither career nor consumption are in first place in their desires but “downshifting,” “exchanging a financially attractive but stress-filled career for a less strenuous but more fulfilling way of life with less income.





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