Review: The Generation Myth: Why When You're Born Matters Less Than You Think

The Generation Myth: Why When You're Born Matters Less Than You Think The Generation Myth: Why When You're Born Matters Less Than You Think by Bobby Duffy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Duffy's the argument that I've been thirsting for. He takes a solid crack at the often-tepid, reductive, and wildly over-abused generational-differences discourse around Silent-Gen through Generation Z (or whatever we're calling this group). He illustrates how these approaches do harm to understanding generational experiences (which, of course, are not universal and should not be the means for HR training and the like) and stress more understanding of how life spans play out in similar ways across generations but often at different collective times.  Much of the reasons for these differences are not grounded in innate elements of each generation or age cohort but rather in what is happening in the larger cultural space. Generations all go through similar challenges but may experience them at different times in their lives because of historical forces.  So millennials may have been driving less in the late 2000s but that is as much an impact of the economic downturn of the late 2000s limiting their resources to own and maintain a car than it was an active choice. These kinds of observations are the bread and butter of the book--helping to challenge the assumptions that are routinely touted in the popular press.  In fact, Duffy does a lot to show that variation across the generations is less than variation within a generation and I think that's one of the book's most poignant points that can help us think differently about how we conceive of different age cohorts in society.  Beyond that, he spends a good chunk of the book exploring different areas that we typically associate with the difference among generations (gender, sex, politics, consumer habits, religion, etc) to reveal different data points and unpacks what it really means when there are differences. It's a solid book for anyone who wants to think more clearly and usefully about what it means to engage with and understand different age cohorts in a way that isn't reductive but increases one's curiosity to understand the individuals of such a cohort more.

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