Generation X by Douglas Coupland
Generation X by Douglas Coupland
Generation X was Coupland’S controversial title which was derived from the work of Paul Fusell, category X in 1983. In his interview in 1995 Coupland explained that Fusell’s classification of X category were people who circulated in rounds of money, status and social climbing that describe the modern existence. But looking at the Coupland’s novel, it is very different from Fusell’s work. The people he is referring to as generation X are the people born after 1960. The whole novel rotates around the contemporary society issues: love intrigues, adventure, friendship among other themes (Reed).
These themes are not new since they existed even in during the times of great philosophers. It is for this reason that I think Marx, Durkheim, and Weber apply to the Coupland’s novel, generation X. Although the novel reveals a lot of friendship and love between some characters there is an aspect of social deviance developing between the modern generation and the past. Emile Durkheim is perhaps the most popular in the field of deviance and his ideas are therefore applicable in this novel.
In his argument in the division of society (Huang 63), Durkheim says that differences in a collective society and deviant society contribute to the basis of theoretical framework which outlines reasons as to why people violate norms. On the other hand, his appreciation that deviance in most cases enhances social cohesion provides foundation for theories that examines why deviant labeling occur (62). During the 1995 interview (Reed 3rd par), Coupland on his side revealed that his novel wondered why his generation is being labeled as members of baby boomer when they are capable of thinking by themselves.
The idea of social differentiation also seems to crop up in the novel (Coupland 67) hence bringing the three philosophers closer to the novel. In the novel, there are several generation; the first one is the older generation of Mr. and Mrs. Mcarthur, second is the generation X where Andy, Claire and Dag belongs and finally the generation Y for Tyler who is Andy’s younger brother . According to Durkheim, social differentiation contributes not only to deviant conduct but also deviant labeling in more differentiated societies (Schmaus 56).
In the novel, which represents the contemporary society, this deviance conduct and labeling is witnessed throughout the novel. The members of older generational view those of generational X and generation Y as some how spoiled and refer to them as global teens (Coupland 48). In his theory about the relationship between the society and individuals, Karl Marx noted that the society is highly stratified because the people who worked the hardest were also the people who received the least as the fruits of their labor (Shlomo 152).
Like in the novel, Karl Marx looked forward to a society that accounted for social change. Although Coupland and Karl Max talks of classes of people, the two fail to agree in their classification. Karl Max concentrated on the Proteliant or the majority in the society and the Bourgeois who are the minority. He argues that the former live in substandard living condition while the later have all that life have to offer (Shlomo 160). Coupland classes of people in the society are the older generation and the younger generation.
However, like what is contained in Karl Marx ideas, the young generation belongs to the marginalized group with lousy jobs while the old generation view themselves as the think tanks and the wisest. The young characters in the novel try to pull themselves from the characters that belong to the past. Dag’s love interest for example always find herself looked up in the past without realizing what is happening in the modern world. Like the rest, Weber in his work analyses the modern society (Burris 122).
He discusses the concept of bureaucracies which according to him is the foundation of social stabilization, cultural symbols and channel of good and services to the modern society (132). He points out that it is the charismatic ideas and not old ideas that change the society (133). But, Marx Weber also brings in a very interesting contribution to the novel, the issue of love and friendship. Weber controversial love life seems close to what was happening in the Coupland (56, 74,132).
In his bachelorhood he developed a romantic interest with his cousin Emmy Baumagarten who lived in Strasbourg (Hoenisch 1st par). Weber’s love for Emmerling as he used to call her darling continued for more than eight years despite opposition from both families. During this time their love emotions were bulging with a series of letters and spent several days of their sweet closeness in poetry of string (3rd par). It was in 1887 in his second military as a reserve officer in Strasbourg that Weber had an amorous but not sexual encounter with Emmy (7th par).
According to the novel, there exist a very big difference in perception of ideas between the old generation and the modern generation. The difference which is a source of conflict between the generations is what links the three philosophers to the novel. The questions raised in the novel are both relevant and applicable to the contemporary social life but at the same time they refer to classical sociological theories of the “primitive” generation. It is clear from the novel that each generation is faced by its unique problems which can be solved only by that particular generation alone.
It is important to point out that in the increasing globalization and industrialization world of the 21st century the economical, political and sociological landscape is likely to suffer from deepening and widening class struggle. Whether primitive, revolutionary or reformist, the old generation feels obliged to address this issue. Ultimately, Weber, Marx and Durkheim each provided conflicting accounts regarding the ways in which the urban societies of their time was deficient, and what was required to fix it (Schmaus 74).
The younger cannot bear the consequences of ignoring the wise ideas the old and it is therefore necessary to embrace unity in diversity while handling societal problems aiming at acquiring necessary social change and stability. References Burris, V. The Neo-Marxist blend of Marx and Weber on Class in: Norbert Wiley (Ed. ), The Marx-Weber dispute. Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications, 1997. Coupland, D. Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. Canada: St. Martin’s Press, March 15, 1991 Hoenisch, S. Max Weber’s personal life 1886-1893. 1995. November 27, 2008.
<http://www. uvm. edu/~lkaelber/research/weber2. html> Huang, W. S. “Durkheim’s rules of sociological method. ” Journal for offender therapy & comparative crime, (2004): 63-75,. Reed, J. 2001. Generation X: tales for an accelerated culture by Douglas Coupland. <www. opendemocracy. net/arts/generation> Shlomo, A. The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx. Cambridge: University Press, 2001. Schmaus, W. “Explanation and real meaning in Rules of sociological method and ‘division Of labor in society. ” Journal Of Sociological Perspectives Spring, (1995): 57-76,. .
Subject: Generation X,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 8 October 2016
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