— What is the theory of generations, according to which people are classified as boomers, millennials, etc.?

— The topic of differences between generations has always interested people. For example, the Arab philosopher Ibn Khaldun, back in the 14th century, put forward the theory that each state goes through certain stages of development, tied to the behavior of different generations of its citizens. The first generation builds the state, the second expands its territory, the third develops science and art. And the fourth can destroy it all. The essence of his theory is that bad times create strong people, strong people create good times, and good times create weak people. Which in turn creates bad times and then the cycle repeats. The modern systematization of generations, proposed by American scientists Neil Howe and William Strauss, is partly based on the work of ancient historians and philosophers.

Strauss and Howe define a generation as a collection of people born in one time period of about 20 years. This period is equal to one phase of a person’s life - youth, middle age, old age. The subject of study in this case was the generation born after the Second World War.

Thus, in the USSR, the need to overcome the consequences of this colossal crisis influenced the worldview of the first post-war generation, which is also called the generation of winners, or the generation of the Thaw. People felt inspiration and unity, and understood that only through joint efforts could they lead the country to a bright future. In the United States, the generation that was born from 1946 to 1964 is called the baby boomer generation - then there was a surge in the birth rate in American society. In general, the post-war generation is characterized by optimism and cheerfulness.

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After the Baby Boomers comes Generation X - those born between 1965 and 1980. They are very independent because their parents were always busy with work. X strive for success, try to create their own business, and devote a lot of time to education. They want not only to work hard, but also to create a good life for themselves and their children. Such people strive for balance between the personal and public spheres.

The next generation - Y, or millennials - is more infantile, and they are also characterized by a feeling of anxiety. This generation tends to get carried away with fantasy, magical themes, etc. That is, there is an inherent desire to escape into the world of dreams from reality. In addition, the idols of the “Greeks” were media stars, singers and artists, while for the Boomers, for example, the heroes were real people who endured the hardships of war. Millennials do not want to work long and monotonously; they are looking for their calling, dreaming of quick success and value themselves very highly.

Another common feature of the “Greeks” is their gentle approach to raising their own children. Therefore, the zoomer generation, or generation Z, is also called the first unworn generation. Relations between adults and children in this case are built not on fear, but on respect, which parents still need to earn from the child. But since the parents of zoomers hardly set boundaries and rules for them, many zoomers find it difficult to control their impulses and emotions. In addition, it is difficult for them to make friends, as they often have high expectations for other people. From books, films and stories from their elders, they know about friendship and romanticize it, but they themselves often experience disappointment. They often turn to psychologists with complaints about loneliness and lack of real friends. But at the same time, Generation Z is very curious, able to express itself, something their predecessors lacked.

At any given moment in history, representatives of different generations are present in society. Representatives of different generations live each historical event at different ages, and therefore perceive it differently. How a person will express himself largely depends on the age at which he went through a particular period in the life of society - rise, decline, etc.

A study was recently published that refutes the theory that millennials and zoomers do not like to work and do not strive to earn money. This opinion, according to the scientist, is erroneous, since all generations had a reluctance to work at an early age, regardless of when they were born. Do you agree with this criticism of the theory?

— I believe that such typing, which imposes certain images on young people through the prism of good/bad, is wrong and can even be harmful. However, the value of this study is that its author, Martin Schröder, drew attention to important factors influencing human social behavior.

At a young age, representatives of all generations strive to find themselves, self-realization, and knowledge of the world. But in difficult economic and simply difficult situations, the majority are forced to grow up early - to accept responsibility for the survival of themselves and their family, to refuse what will not bring immediate income. A significant portion of today’s young people can afford to enter adulthood in a non-emergency manner. Psychologists highlight the phenomenon of delayed maturation, when more and more young people are in a youthful search for themselves even at 25 years old. Now there are even proposals to officially expand the boundaries of adolescence.

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Moreover, in modern society, even adults can afford to realize their childhood dreams, often combining this activity with their main job. This trend even affects retirees, who are increasingly willing to participate in various joint leisure programs, lead an active lifestyle and engage in hobbies.

As for hard work, it is based on motivation, and millennials and zoomers have it differently than previous generations. For them, work is no longer associated with the struggle for survival; meaningful activity is important to them. They are not lazy, but simply want to prove themselves in their work and be proud of their achievements. This also applies to personal life: representatives of these generations do not see creating a family as an end in itself; they carefully choose partners.

— Are there alternative classifications


- Certainly. For example, in America there is still a generation of “snowflakes”. If we compare this with the classical theory of generations, then these are most likely millennials. The name “snowflakes” emphasizes the vulnerability of these people, their confidence in their exclusivity, as well as their absorption in their own experiences and intolerance to opinions different from their own. At the same time, this vulnerability is selective and can turn into a real dictatorship: for example, they can organize real persecution, demanding that a fairy tale be banned due to insufficient political correctness, etc.

In China, for example, the term “strawberry generation” is common. According to the description, it is very similar to “snowflakes” - these are rebellious, spoiled, selfish and arrogant people. Representatives of this generation grew up under the strong care of their parents, in conditions of economic prosperity. They are compared to greenhouse strawberries. Finding themselves in some problematic situations, such people have difficulty withstanding social pressure.

In the UK there is also a similar term - “generation NEET”. He belongs to a generation of young people who, due to various factors, do not work or study. In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of NEET, you can often find a similar term - Nini or Ni-Ni. Such people are over 30 years old, but they are in a childish state and do not want to grow up or take responsibility.

The Strauss-Howe generation theory has been criticized for being too broad generalizations and weak evidence base. At the same time, a lot of scientific research is being done on its basis. For example, based on it, scientists concluded that zoomers do not behave “rebelliously” enough. What are the pros and cons of this theory, in your opinion?

- This theory is really overly generalized, not developed in detail. Although its authors highlight some common characteristics for each generation, many important details are missed. This is an interesting model that shows certain historical trends, but says little about the individual experience of a particular person. For example, this theory does not take into account the difference in social status of people living in the same era. Not to mention the fact that many people are born at the junction of generations and may not fit into the model defined for them by theory at all. Many manifestations characteristic of the young in previous eras simply change form. For example, zoomers rebel differently, because many of the restrictions that previously caused the riots have now been lifted.

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In addition, I believe that the American theory of generations cannot be completely transferred to other countries. For example, Russia and the United States have different histories, and even wars and crises common to the whole world affected different countries differently. Although, of course, there are many similarities - periods of recessions and ascents, scientific and technological enthusiasm, etc.

However, the theory of generations is useful in the sense that it prompts us to very important thoughts and forces us to analyze the behavior of people, including our own, in different situations.

— The theory is actively used in marketing strategies and product research. Thus, it turned out that Gen Xers make up 50% of buyers of CPG products - those that are regularly used and require regular replenishment, such as food, clothing or cosmetics. How effective is this?

— Many of the conclusions of the theory of generations are very interesting for application in practice. This theory, with all its shortcomings, helps to analyze the characteristics of large groups of people. It is not surprising that people whose youth passed at approximately the same time have similar tastes, and besides, at the moment they are all at the same age, which also leaves an imprint on their needs. Therefore, the theory of generations fits well with the basic rules of marketing, helping to analyze the target group and its needs - as marketers say, “the pain of the client.” It is also applicable in political technologies.  

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Previously, the concept of generations was supplemented with another term — “alpha,” introduced by the Australian scientist Mark McCrindle. What features of worldview will this generation have?

— “Alpha” are children who were born after 2010-2011, this is a completely digital generation that cannot even imagine a world without the Internet and gadgets. They also explore the world through virtual reality and look for answers to all their questions on the Internet. It is important for us, representatives of older generations, to learn to understand these children, as well as the special conditions in which they are formed. Relatively speaking, we should already teach children not only safety rules in the real, physical world - how to cross the road at a traffic light, etc. - but also the basics of being safe in the virtual world, on the Internet. To do this, we ourselves must adapt to changing conditions, and not label others. It is important to understand that times change and we change with them. As the Romans said, tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis. 

The study of generations is a large area of ​​research that is now just emerging. There are not many works yet where this topic is covered from the standpoint of evidence-based science. I think that a serious impetus for this area will be the use of neural networks for processing big data, because we are talking about analyzing data on the behavior of millions of people around the world.