Youth Media and Communication Initiative (YMCI)
Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders

   





 

Generation gap

 

A generation gap or generational gap is a difference of opinions between one generation and another regarding beliefs, politics, or values. In today's usage, generation gap often refers to a perceived gap between younger people and their parents or grandparents.

The sociological theory of a generation gap first came to light in the 1960s, when the younger generation (later known as Baby Boomers) seemed to go against everything their parents had previously believed in terms of music, values, governmental and political views. Sociologists now refer to "generation gap" as "institutional age segregation". Usually, when any of these age groups is engaged in its primary activity, the individual members are physically isolated from people of other generations, with little interaction across age barriers except at the nuclear family level.

It can be distinguished by the differences in their language use. The generation gap has created a parallel gap in language that can be difficult to communicate across. This issue is one visible throughout society, creating complications within day to day communication at home, in the work place, and within schools. As new generations seek to define themselves as something apart from the old, they adopt new lingo and slang, allowing a generation to create a sense of division from the previous one. This is a visible gap between generations we see every day. "Man's most important symbol is his language and through this language he defines his reality.

Slang is an ever-changing set of colloquial words and phrases that speakers use to establish or reinforce social identity or cohesiveness within a group or with a trend in society at large. As each successive generation of society struggles to establish its own unique identity among its predecessors it can be determined that generational gaps provide a large influence over the continual change and adaptation of slang. As slang is often regarded as an ephemeral dialect, a constant supply of new words is required to meet the demands of the rapid change in characteristics. And while most slang terms maintain a fairly brief duration of popularity, slang provides a quick and readily available vernacular screen to establish and maintain generational gaps in a societal context.

While in the case with language skills such as shorthand, a system of stenography popular during the twentieth century, technological innovations occurring between generations have made these skills obsolete. Older generations used shorthand to be able to take notes and write faster using abbreviated symbols, rather than having to write each word. However, with new technology and keyboards, newer generations no longer need these older communication skills, like Gregg shorthand. Although over 20 years ago, language skills such as shorthand classes were taught in many high schools, now students have rarely seen or even heard of forms like shorthand.

Another phenomenon within language that works to define a generation gap occurs within families in which different generations speak different primary languages. In order to find a means to communicate within the household environment, many have taken up the practice of language brokering, which refers to the "interpretation and translation performed in everyday situations by bilinguals who have had no special training". In immigrant families where the first generation speaks primarily in their native tongue, the second generation primarily in the language of the country in which they now live while still retaining fluency in their parent's dominant language, and the third generation primarily in the language of the country they were born in while retaining little to no conversational language in their grandparent's native tongue, the second generation family members serve as interpreters not only to outside persons, but within the household, further propelling generational differences and divisions by means of linguistic communication.

A popular belief held by older generations is that the characteristics of Millennials can potentially complicate professional interactions. To some managers, this generation is a group of coddled, lazy, disloyal, and narcissistic young people, who are incapable of handling the simplest task without guidance. For this reason, when millennials first enter a new organization, they are often greeted with wary coworkers. Career was an essential component of the identities of Baby boomers; they made many sacrifices, working 55 to 60 hour weeks, patiently waiting for promotions. Millennials, on the other hand, are not workaholics and do not place such a strong emphasis on their careers. Even so, they expect all the perks, in terms of good pay and benefits, rapid advancement, work-life balance, stimulating work, and giving back to their community. Studies have found that millennials are usually exceptionally confident in their abilities and, as a result, fail to prove themselves by working hard, seeking key roles in significant projects early on in their careers, which frustrates their older coworkers.

Additionally, studies show that promotions are very important to millennials, and when they do not see opportunities for rapid advancement at one organization, they are quick to quit in an effort to find better opportunities. They have an unrealistic timeline for these promotions, however, which frustrates older generations. They also have a low tolerance for unchallenging work; when work is not stimulating, they often perform poorly out of boredom. As a result, managers must constantly provide millennials with greater responsibility so that they feel more involved and needed in the organization.

 


 



 


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