Youth Culture and Social Change Essay

Introduction Culture can be defined as the shared values, customs, beliefs, behaviours and knowledge of a particular group or society. [1] Similarly, youth culture refers to the shared values, etc. of individuals in their teenage and young adult years. During the last century, the world around us has changed greatly, and as a result of this, so too has youth culture changed.In this investigation, the ways in which social change has influenced youth culture from the 1960’s to today will be explored and how changes in factors such as the media and technology, male/female roles in relationships, attitudes towards parents and elders and values have played a part in shaping this. Methodology While the internet, media and some textbooks were used as means of material, a great deal of information emanated from the four interviews that were conducted: two youth from the 1960’s –Lawern and Davis, and two youths of today –Trezise and Thomas.

DiscussionThe effect of the media and technology The media has had a drastic change since the 1960’s and is perhaps one of the most significant influencers of today’s youth. ‘The controversial issues that are seen in the media! ’ said Lawern when asked about one of the main differences from her teenage years and now. [2] ‘There was a lot less of a variety of issues back then. Subjects, such as body image, would have never been exposed to us. ’ she said. Davis also agreed saying ‘There was never any differing ideas in the media and as a result people would usually have the same views as you. [3] In today’s media, teenagers and young adults are under constant exposure to issues that are very controversial. Gay marriage, war and environment complications are just some of these examples.

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‘We are repeatedly bombarded with all these different views from the media’ said Tresize when asked about one of the impacts of the media[4]. ‘People are expected to have their own views on a whole range of different matters’ he said. Comparatively, Thomas had a differing view on the topic saying that the media gives unnecessary pressure to teenagers and young adults. It has created the unnecessary pressure of having to keep up with the latest devices and/or trends.

”[5] From this, it can be seen that the media has brought about a youth that is socially, culturally and globally aware but one that is also a subject to the mass advertising that fosters consumerism in teenagers and young people.There is no doubt technology has changed dramatically also. In this day and age, it is said that teenagers and young adults are spending more than 16 hours a week online. 6] ‘I use the internet for almost everything: school, contacting friends and family, even checking the weather. ’ says Trezise. Thomas echoes Trezise’s statement, but also found that as a result of spending so much time online, there was an increasingly lacking amount of face-to-face interaction in teenagers and young adults today. A very common issue related to the youth of today, the increase in technological devices is said to be a major factor of decline in social interaction. [7]When asked to express their views on this statistic, both Davis and Lawren replied ‘the advancements of all these technological devices, the internet included, have created a very anti-social generation.

’ In the 60’s, many teenagers and young adults spent a lot of their free time playing sport and hanging out with friends. [8] This was reinforced by Davis, who said ‘In our free time, we would usually gather at a park that was about a block and a half from my house. ’ Changes in male/female roles in relationshipsUnlike in the 1960’s, where the roles of men and women were somewhat well defined and stable, recent years have brought remarkable change. Back then, the typical Australian family structure of the “Breadwinning father, stay-at-home mother and children was still quite prominent. [9] Through their mothers and fathers, teenagers and young adults learned what their roles where in a relationship. ‘We were always told that it was the male who asked a girl out and not the other way. ’ said Lawren when asked about her role as a female in a relationship.

All we had the power to do was to accept or decline his offer. ’ she said. Sex before marriage was also seen as socially unacceptable with many teenagers who became pregnant being thrown out of the family home by parents. [10] This was a result of contraceptives not being as easier acquired. ‘The pill was not generally available and condoms were only available from chemists and barbers and at three shillings a pack. Too expensive us teens to buy. ’ says Davis.

Today, teenagers and young adults are not only taught by their parents but also through the media about a relationship.This has brought about a generation where the male and female sex can be seen to be more equal in their roles in relationships. For example, it is becoming more and more common for a girl to ask a guy to go out to catch a movie, hit a club, or just hang out. However, according to Tresize, this change has also caused some confusion to males in relationships.

‘We now get mixed messages from partners in relationships. There are some girls who want the guy in a relationship to be either strong or vulnerable, or take charge or not to dominate. It’s confusing! Following the sexual revolution in the late 60’s, sexual behavior in relationships has also been normalised by the media.

With an increase in teenage dramas on TV, teenagers and young adults are now witnessing scenes that would have been completely unacceptable and offensive to older generations daily. [11] This has resulted in the concept of sex before marriage to be more acceptable in society.Changes on attitudes towards parents and elders It is often depicted that today’s teenagers and young adults are nowhere near as ‘polite’ towards parents and elders as they were in previous generations.

When you talked to parents or elders, you had to speak with respect. There was none of this talking back nonsense. ’ says Lawren. Having a lot more of a one-way parental style, parents and elders of the 60’s were expected to discipline their child.

[12] As a result, teenagers and young adults would be expected to respect elders, with anything else usually lead to a ‘good old-fashion smack’. Davis also describes being treated like a child longer, ‘In our teenage years, we were not expected to have our own view on the world around us.We were still seen to be children even though we were almost adults. ’ Nowadays, teenagers and young adults are constantly being told to be more mature and independent from an early age. ‘Children are assuming adult roles earlier than they used to. ’ says Thomas.

‘The virtue of standing up for their rights is drilled to heads from parents, schools and often the media as well. ’ Consequently, teenagers and young adults now question things that were seen to be the norm in previous generations and expect their opinions to hold value in society. Changes in valuesOften associated as one of the most important factors that make teenagers and young people of today most different to those in the 60’s, is the changes in values. ‘Growing up, there was very little variation in the values of your parents and your own values. ’ states both Davis and Lawren, ‘we didn’t really know any better’. An effect of this was how nearly everyone had the same values to each other, with religion and family being common beheld values. [13] Teenagers and young adults today have congregated a wider variety of different values.Though a small number of these have been passed down and socialised by parents and elders, many more have been acquired as a result of the world around them.

As stated previously, religion was common beheld value in the 60’s. In a recently survey in 2008 however, 28% of young Australians stated that they do not see a spiritual element significant. [14] It has been with a decrease in values like religion, that other values have been seen as more important, one of these being freedom.

15] When asked about the importance of freedom, Tresize states‘…as we are becoming more independent at an earlier age, and as a result of the media, we have gained the idea of the effects of freedom a lot sooner. ’ Conclusion In conclusion, having stepped into a new millennium, youth culture of today is incredibly different to that of the 1960’s. Changes to factors such as the increase in media exposure and technological access and devices, the sexual revolution, changes in parenting philosophies and the congregation of a wider variety of different values have all had a major influence in shaping youth culture to what it is today.Today, teenagers and young adults are treated more like mature adults and as a result, are a lot more confident and have their own views and values of the world around them at an earlier age.

However, with access to a vast range of technology and a lot more media exposure, they can also be seen to be less social on a face-to-face level and materialistic, being more conscious of latest devices and even body image. Whether these changes will continue to change and whether they have even shaped a youth culture that has improved? Only time will tell.