Generation Y - Background and Impact 


We were born in Haifa and spent our childhood and our teen years atop Mount Carmel, home to Haifa’s ‘nobility’. We met in the Scouts and the Hebrew Reali School and fell in love at the age of seventeen. We got married in the early 1980s, immediately after our military service, and before starting a family we went on the big trip to the Far East. Social and political unrest in Israel was at its peak at the time and there was a feeling in the air that everything we once took for grantedwas being undermined. The innocence of old was starting to dissipate, and the country was on the verge of entering the post-national and global age. We loved and cherished the moral code bestowed upon us by our Israeli-born parents and by our teachers, but feltdisillusioned and aspired to be better than them, in every possible way. In the mid-1980s we had two children. We raised them according to the values of Zionism, but our upbringing approaches were already influenced by more western models of critical thinking, feminism and empathy for the individual’s needs and hardships. We spent the period’s most dramatic events together: a meteoric economic development on the one hand (malls, trips abroad, computers, cellphones and more), and instability and lack of security on the other hand (terrorist bombings, rocket attacks, political turmoil and tensions, the collapse of the education system etc.)
 

We got our BAs, MAs and Ph.Ds side by side and entered the world of academia at about the same time; Oz specialized in the sociology of Israeli society while Tamar focused on alternative education. In 1997, The Sabra – A Profile was released and seven year later, Farewell to Srulik – Changing Values Among the Israeli Elite (2004). The books, which dealt with Israel’s
young, ‘wasp’ class were written by Oz, but the writing process was collaborative and included endless conversations and preliminary discussions. Our mutual work stemmed not only from the nature of our relationship and shared profession, but also from the fact that these are actually indirect autobiographies: the collective story of our generation – the Israeli interim generation.

 

About five years ago, having reached the age of fifty and after a long career in university, our professional conversations started to take on a new tone. We found ourselves complaining about our students, time and time again. We noticed that the institutions around us were ignoring an increasingly troubling problem. Academic quality had been deteriorating
with each passing year and we felt as if we were working for an institution that was gradually trading higher education for selling degrees in bulk. When we were young, we assumed that following the rapidly developing technology and the deepening of the democratic culture, generation gaps would soon be a thing of the past. Turns out we were wrong. In many ways, the gap between our generation and our parents’ generation is smaller than the gap between our generation and our children’s generation. We would constantly ask ourselves: maybe we’re overreacting? Perhaps we suffer from the typical syndrome of older people who are appalled by ‘kids these days’? We started to read books, articles and online conversations
that focused on contemporary young people. We suddenly discovered that our feeling was not subjective or random, and that there is a universal phenomenon here, coming into play in various fields. They really are ‘not like us’. How different are they? How does this manifest itself? Why did this happen? And what are the repercussions of this change? We decided to
answer these questions in our research, which is in many ways the third chapter of an ongoing private study of our lives.


Jewish-Israeli society has always been very fond of its youth and has expressed a great deal of interest in their lifestyle, worldviews and aspirations. This has been due to the Jewish peoples’ communal and familial nature, the enthusiasm towards the new Israeli natives who embody the vision of the ‘New Jew’, and the fact that Israel is a nation of immigrants where young
people surpass their parents in adapting to their new homeland. Furthermore, the State of Israel has been embroiled in a historic battle against mortal enemies and the nation’s main burden of defence has always been placed on the young fighters’ shoulders. The prestige of military service next to the idolization of fallen brethren have similarly intensified the mythological status and image of Israeli Sabras and increased the fascination around them. Israel’s fast-paced development in the past four decades in the fields of economics, technology, media, science and politics has changed the cultural DNA of its citizens. Israel was one of the first countries to embrace the computer revolution and in fact became digitally oriented before many western countries. It is therefore only natural for many to wonder what it is exactly that distinguishes Israeli millennials, who were born into the computer revolution and grew up in a society of abundance, which absorbs
a multitude of new cultural influences.

 

The Hebrew edition of our book was published in Israel at a time when public debate about the younger generation made its return in full force. This was mainly due to the staggering addiction to smartphones, the surprising impact of social media and the housing and high cost of living crisis that led to the social protest of the summer of 2011. However, a deeper reason lurked in the background: the feeling among many of the older Israelis that something big was happening around them. That ‘something’ was millennials’ induction into adulthood. For the first time ever, young millennials and the older generations interacted with each other on a daily basis – in the army, in academia, in the workplace and in pastime activities. Much like in other countries around the world, this interaction in Israel exposed wide generational gaps and stirred new awkward situations, anxieties and tensions.
 

When our book about the Israeli Generation Y was published in Israel in early 2016, it immediately attracted vast media and public attention. Reports about the comprehensive study had appeared before the book was even published, but an extensive interview we gave for the weekend supplement of Yedioth Ahronoth – the largest circulated newspaper in Israel
– went viral, generating thousands of shares and comments on websites and social media sites as well as dozens of reviews and articles in mainstream media: television, radio, print and online. The culmination of this trend was a television documentary series on Channel 10 that dealt with this generation’s characteristics as portrayed in our study. The term ‘Generation Y’, which at the time was only known to few people in Israel, became a common phrase in Israeli discourse and the generational gap became a widely talked about issue on countless forums. The book also had a practical impact. Hundreds of public and private institutions invited us to speak about the findings and their consequences and try to come up with possible solutions for the challenges that arose from the study. Many organizations started to develop new recruitment and employment programmes tailored to the new generation.


The success of the book – which has become a bestseller in Israel – could be attributed to three main reasons: (a) at the time, this was the world’s most comprehensive study about millennials, trying to create a general profile of the generation. Most people who responded to the study claimed it perfectly described how they felt about their friends/children employees /co-workers and generally about young people around them. Many youngsters were grateful that ‘finally someone is telling these “old folks” who we are and why we don’t play by their rules’. (b) The book deals with a socio-historical phenomenon in real time and does not succumb to political correctness. (c) The study deals with a new generation whose impact on the image and future of the State of Israel is likely to be dramatic. Not only do these youngsters indirectly challenge the Zionist vision, they also influence and continue to influence the very nature of Israel and its future. In effect, millennials all around the world have been changing the rules of the social game and leading humanity towards a new cultural age.

Generation Y - Abstract

 

Generation Y (Millennials), born in the 1980s and 1990s, came of age during a period of unprecedented accelerated economic growth. These young, secular women and men were shaped by a society that was fast becoming more self-critical and cynical, conflictual, entrepreneurial, consumer and media-oriented, individualistic and globalized.

 

This is a generation characterized by its pervasive permissiveness, sociability, sense of humor, openness and easygoing outlook on life. They live in ‘urban tribes’ and are slow to assume responsibility. They are the self-centered children of the digital age, raised as princes and princesses, shielded by their teachers and parents' words of praise and affirmation. They were promised they would be able to realize their dreams if only they so desired.

 

They are in no rush to spread their wings because they see the world around them as increasingly exploitative and unstable and also they wish to have room for flexibility. They throng to purchase degrees whose job-market value and intellectual worth are declining.

 

Their lives are replete with trauma growing up in the shadow of missiles and terror attacks and because the media exposes them to daily disasters and tragedies around the world. They are anxiety-ridden and confused. They have difficulty coping with stress and they are slaves to the infinite information and constant stimuli that flows from all directions.

 

Generation Y is different to previous generations in almost every way: work, study, media consumption, leisure and entertainment habits, raising their children and more.

 

What is the cultural DNA of today's youth? Why did this generation emerge and how is it influencing  the west? Based on extensive research this book provides answer to these key questions.  Although the book concentrates on Israeli society, most of the generational traits and their sociological interpretations are applicable all over the western world.

 
 

Generation Y - Table Of Contents

  1. introduction

  2. 30-Year-old Child – Delayed Adulthood

  3. For the Sake of Ourselves – Selfishness as a Trend

  4. Work is Your Life – Not Ours

  5. Overdrawn – Consumption at any Cost

  6. Let’s Have Fun – Entertainment as Purpose

  7. Always Online – Digital Natives

  8. Bands of Brothers and Sisters – Friendship in an Age of Alienation

  9. Youngsters in Pink – Flexible Femininity and Masculinity

  10. Sleeping Crosswise – Singlehood as a Way of Life

  11. Dating Around – Meeting Places and Dating Markets

  12. Happily Ever After, For Now – The New Relationships

  13. Helpless Parenting – Millennials Raising Kids

  14. It’s Too Long – Learning in the Age of Google

  15. Who needs Politics? – escapism as a Worldview

  16. Now What? – Intermediate Conclusions

 

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© 2020 By Tamar Almog and Oz Almog

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