How are British Youth described?
Over the last few years I have been collecting articles in the UK press (from tabloids, broadsheets and online sources) which seek to characterise young people. The following, in no particular order, except perhaps for the sake of ironic contrast, are the salient characteristics which emerge from an informal analysis of these articles’ claims:
- Narcissistic with an unfounded sense of entitlement
- Experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression
- Identifying with celebrity culture
- Prone to ‘drug abuse, alcohol-fuelled pregnancy or law-breaking,’
- Clean-living, ambitious and competitive
- ‘…growing up without boundaries, thinking they can do as they please… No adult will intervene to stop them.’ (David Cameron in 2009: the discourse of ‘broken Britain’)
- More socially liberal and accepting than previous generations on issues such as gay marriage and euthanasia
- More politically right-wing than parents or grandparents at the same age
- Digitally literate and globally empowered
- Suffering from literacy problems and economic disempowerment
- Speaking a different language
UrBEn-ID is an ethnographic linguistic research project being carried out at Manchester Metropolitan University, funded by The Leverhulme Trust. UrBEn stands for Urban British English, reflecting the project’s aim to investigate ways in which young people in an urban environment use language in the construction, negotiation and performance of their identities.
Some of their recent findings can be accessed here:
Three years on, and those labels; Babyboomer, Generation X, Millennial and Gen Z are still contentious, still contested. This from Marketing Week in April 2019: