Age has become a very important topic to be discussed as the world carries on. As people become more knowledgeable and certain advancements in life occur, people are beginning to realize that there indeed is a way to maximize your years and to have a meaningful life once one is old. Studying age has become important in social behavior also. Each generation possesses its own definition and witnessed some of the same events. Studies have come to regard generations, as familial so on the true term for the different age groups is cohorts.
Again, each cohort has a range of people in them and each of these cohorts tells a different story about a different time period. Things are changing at an ever-fasting pace because of technological advancements and such, which means that the recent cohorts are more different than any other time in history. There are six cohorts represented in the world today, which include: the swing generation, the silent generation, baby boomers, baby bust cohort, the echo boomers, and millennials. These are in chronological order. This research paper will leave out the millennials. Again, each of these cohorts represent a different age in time and each has had completely different experiences, thus the exploration is, what is the character and composition of each of these said cohorts, and why does that matter today.
Beginning with the oldest represented cohort, the swing generation was actually a very nice time period to live in. America was thriving at this time. This is an era where times were changing fast and the beginning of the technology era truly began. Swing music is a very happy form of music and dance, which signifies how people generally felt at the time.
Everything wasnot perfect by far though. This cohort is unique because while they did not experience slavery first hand, their parents and grandparents were slaves and slave owners. So America was in a tough position where people of all different levels began to intermingle like no other time before. Of course racism still ran rampant, especially through the South. Yet, the times showed promise for the future. In these years, 1900 – 1926, Henry Ford put the Model T on the assembly line and the Model T hit the streets for the very first time. So driving became an option, which eventually lead to the development of suburban areas. This time ended with atrocities though, as the prohibition of alcohol gave leeway to the increase of gang activity.
(Kyvig, 2002) Men like Al Capone became notorious and prominent figures of that time. Other accomplishments include F. Scott Fitzgerald’s publishing of the critically acclaimed The Great Gatsby, which is a staple in today’s high school system as well as a lucrative film in today’s box office. Entertainment no doubt had reached a new level but in these times items that really mattered and would change the course of American history would occur also, Of these improvements, arguably the greatest achievement of this time period was the national woman suffrage amendment was ratified. Giving hope to women everywhere that one day some form of equality to men could possibly occur.
Also, America was called in to save the day in World War to which gave America a world police complex, whether that be good or bad complex is yet still up for debate even to this day though. The people that are alive today from this time period have watched as America has developed and thrived. They have been through several wars and witnessed a 100 years of events. There are not all that many left today but these people are the ones who understand America at its true value because they have literally seen it all. All in all, the swing generation made America look more appealing. It is sad that the next generation did not have as swell a time.
Next, the people of the silent generation faced times that were not nearly as upbeat, happy, and optimistic. The years of 1927 to 1945 yields the silent generation. The major event that signifies how these people lived their lives begins with the stock market crash in 1929. These were pretty dark times in America. At that time, not only were woman’s rights and minority rights at the forefront of life, but also white men had seen their wealth in jeopardy.
People tend to compare the Great Recession of the current day to the Great Depression caused by the stock market crash but it really does not compare. The quality of life in those times was barely scraping the surface of what was to come. People literally starved, were homeless, and lost everything that they had worked for. To match the atrocities of the financial of the American people, this cohort also seen the events that lead to World War II. Japan’s invasions of countries began in this era and Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany.
Though these times cost many American lives the effects on the economy were actually positive. This is possibly when America first began to realize that it had the power to pretty much do as it pleased. So on, America’s world police mentality in general was amplified because of this period in time. Many have analyzed this period in time as the consequences of abusing the swing era. People in the swing era were careless with money and had complete confidence in America as a whole and their lackadaisical ways left the Great Depression in its wake. (Kyvig, 2002) The people of the silent generation would not have the same experience as those who were vibrant in the Roaring Twenties. Experience would make them more intelligent regarding how this country actually works.
The government established several agencies to rekindle the trust in America and make organizations more accountable. This is where the America of today really began to form. It was no longer all flowers and sunshine so to speak, and people were being held accountable for their actions. And sadly, people were being held accountable for weak government controls, and they paid the price of the Roaring Twenties. All in all, this kind of time was needed in America so that people could make more informed decisions in the future, and they have. The end of the silent generation was also a scary time as the first peacetime draft occurred and shortly after a bomb was dropped on American soil. Japan could not have picked a worse time to attack America as America was in desperation mode. Their mistake would end up costing them heavily in the long run.
So on, the next cohort is the baby boomers, which will steal the majority of the social security fund. This era ranges from 1946 to 1964 and they are the biggest cohort. These times were historical for the fact that civil rights were finally around the corner. Now, of course there were different prominent figures that exemplified what exactly it meant to be alive in this time. Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, the Kennedys all signify this era of great change and saddening atrocities. While in the civil rights arena things were moving, though with heavy resistance, in areas like technology long strides were also being made. Computers were beginning to be built, televisions were introduced, things were being launched into space, and the economy found new life. Yet still, this time period did not fail to have its scares.
As the self-pronounced world police, America found itself in the foreign land of Korea. Also, the Cold War also scared a great deal of people, mostly because no one quite understood the impact in its fullness of what technology meant. The Bay of Pigs was blunders that lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis. There was a record amount of nuclear bombs, which could destroy the world a couple times over, and America had already dropped one on Japan, so every country was up in arms. The struggles of this time truly molded the America that many know today. Without that time period America would have been stuck in stagnation, and could not possibly have developed at the rate that it has. Equality meant everything in this era and the battles fought were beneficial to everyone in some kind of way.
As America built on each of the last cohorts, America kept improving. The baby bust cohort of 1965 – 1976 learned a lot from each of the other cohorts listed. This era begun with increased involvement in Vietnam which many Americans did not agree with. The baby bust era was the first time that people outwardly came against the war. The hippie movement went strong and unlike the silent generation America had something to say. The awkward culture of today can many times be linked to this free era.
Woodstock gave people an outlet of regular life and opened America drugs, music, and good vibes. These times further developed America and helped America become regarded as one of the best places to live, because in many other countries the penalty for coming against the government in a public or private way was prison and even death. The Nixon Era though was one of many disappointments in the government. His tenure resulted in political turmoil for years after he resigned. This was a time period where the carefree spirits found something to care about. Education was increasing among the people and now
they knew what was going on, and they were not at all afraid to speak out.
The last cohort to discuss in the echo boomers, which are the children of the baby boomers. This cohort can be identified as the technology generation as the time period for these individuals is 1977 to 1994. The oldest of this generation lived to see the technology boom, while the youngest members cannot fathom a world with out cell phones. This cohort is very diverse because the access to the world at large is literally at their fingertips. Information is available within seconds. Echo boomers are largely considered the smartest cohort simply for the fact that the information one at one time had to recall is now readily available without hesitation. The Internet is this generation’s best friend.
Twitter, MySpace, Tagged, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, and an array of other fads have taken over and almost completely eradicated direct human interaction. Technology progressing at a never ending rate and they love it. Also, the economy is doing so well that it is considered a hard time if the economy is not growing. This generation has had events and items to overcome nevertheless, but in true analysis, most of the time it is to their own fault. The attacks on the World Trade Center, hurricanes at destroy lives, and mentally insane people going to places and taking innocent lives are no game. Yet still, these are the best times America has ever seen. There has been some duality of the past, but in general this era has it together. Echo boomers value education, strive to be better than their parents, and have unlimited access to the world.
In conclusion, the swing generation, the silent generation, baby boomers, baby bust cohort, and the echo boomers have all contributed to America and each has found that America is indeed the best place to live. There are many differences in the people of these different eras, which is largely because some of them have read about events while the other group has lived through these events. It is astounding to realize that the events that occur in America affect all of America and all of the citizen’s mentalities whether they are aware of it or not.
The millennial’s have a lot to accomplish because they are starting at such a great time in history. By all accounts they should be the best and brightest and it will be exciting to see what they can offer the world. Now that all the other major items are
accomplished, what is left to be done? Will the millennials cure cancer? A lot of questions have yet to be answered, but soon enough they all will be. References
Kaledin, E. (2002). Timeline.” daily life in the United States, 1940-1959: Shifting worlds. Greenwood Press. Kyvig, D. (2002). Daily life in the United States, 1920-1939: Decades of promise and pain. . Greenwood Press. Quadango, J. (2011). Aging and the life course: an introduction to social gerontology. (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill