by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/14/15.
The New York Times ran an article about Millennials after which other media pointed out that the age-range they used wasn’t actually the range for Millennials. If the venerable NYTimes can’t get it right, then agreeing on what to call each generational culture will be challenging. Here are some thoughts followed by the emerging agreement.
This is how simplified it in Preparing the Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007), p 53.
- Builder (1) or the Silent (2) or Greatest (3) Generation, b. 1945 and before
- Boomer Generation, b. 1946-1964
- Leading-edge Generation X, b. 1965-1974
- Post-modern Generation X, b. 1975-1983
- Generation Y, b. 1984-2002
See these postings for more: CULTURES & A List of Cultures and CULTURES & A Cumulative List of Cultures from My Books
Though there is disagreement, there is an emerging consensus.
Philip Bump in his article for The Atlantic, titled “Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts” (3/25/14) conducted excellent research and generated the following chart:
(chart retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/)
This is how Philip Bump explained each:
We identified six different generations, and labeled their eras.
Greatest Generation. These are the people that fought and died in World War II for our freedom, which we appreciate. But it’s a little over-the-top as far as names go, isn’t it? Tom Brokaw made the name up and of course everyone loved it. What, you’re going to argue with your grandfather that he isn’t in the greatest generation? The generation ended when the war ended.
Baby Boomers. This is the agreed-upon generation that falls within DiPrete’s punctuated timeframe. It began when the Greatest Generation got home and started having sex with everyone; it ended when having sex with everyone was made easier with The Pill.
Generation X. George Masnick, of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies puts this generation in the timeframe of 1965 to 1984, in part because it’s a neat 20-year period. He also calls it the “baby bust,” mocking “[p]undits on Madison Avenue and in the media” that call it Generation X. Ha ha, tough luck.
Generation Y. Masnick addresses this group, too, putting it “anywhere from the mid-1970s when the oldest were born to the mid-2000s when the youngest were.” But mostly Generation Y is a made-up generation when it became obvious that young kids didn’t really fit with the cool Generation X aesthetic but not enough of them had been born to make a new generation designation. NOTE: Generation Y is a fake, made-up thing. Do not worry about it.
Millennials. In October 2004, researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss called Millennials “the next great generation,” which is funny. They define the group as “as those born in 1982 and approximately the 20 years thereafter.” In 2012, they affixed the end point as 2004.
TBD. But that means that kids born in the last 10 years lack a designation. They are not Millennials. Earlier this month, Pew Research asked people what the group should be called and offered some terrible ideas. In other words, this is the new Generation Y. We’ll figure out what they’re called in the future.
Time Magazine Gets In the Discusion
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In this discussion a student passed along this scan from Time Magazine (Joel Stein, 5/20/13) from a few years ago that completely leaves out Generation Y, assimilating them into the Millennial Generation. Though not as scholarly of a work, it is insightful.
1. Gary McIntosh, One Church, Four Generations: Understanding and Reaching All Ages in Your Church [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2002] and Bob Whitesel and Kent R. Hunter, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000).
2. This generation has been labeled various ways, for instance as the “silent generation” by William Strauss and Neil Howe in Generations: The History of American’s Future, 1954-2069 (New York: Quill, 1992).
3. They are labeled the “greatest generation” by Tom Brokaw in The Greatest Generation (New York: Random House, 2004).