Will the real ‘Generation X’ stand up?

After ReligionGordon Lynch raises concern in his book, “After Religion“, that a swathe of writers have missed Douglas Coupland’s point. Coupland in 1991 published “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture“, creating Andy, Claire and Dag – rootless, ironic and looking for meaning. In that novel Coupland described a generation that is overlooked and lost, without a name. So did this fit with the interpretation taken by marketers and sociologists and theologians?

Lynch refers to Howe and Strauss, Holtz, Starkey, Beaudoin, Cox, Reifschneider, Flory and Miller, and Mahedy and Bernardi.

Critiques provided by Lynch include:
1. How accurate can you be about the dates in which a generation starts and begins.
2. Some of these writers make generalisations about cultural preferences of a generational cohort that do not stand up to scrutiny.
3. Writing on the subject may be unduly influenced by agendas such as concern over intergenerational conflict and the search for a new market.

Lynch proposes that the phrase, ‘generation x’, be used to describe people with a way of approaching or understanding life – rather than a cohort born within a certain time frame. He highlights emerging attitudes towards the nature of truth, the role of external authorities and the significance of personal authenticity.

Hmmmm. What do I think of this? I agree that many writers arbitrarily pick dates that outline their theories on generational markers. I like the idea of keeping a flexible time line.

I do agree that we can over-state trends – over-relying on anecdotal evidence or overlooking local factors and significant exceptions.

Yes – most writers on generational change have agendas. Very few people have the luxury of academic study of a trend without any reference to action, response or change. The interest of marketers in generational cohorts does not invalidate their findings.

Audi A3 Sportback – The Perfect Match

Audi have had a go at online film to promote the new A3 sportback. The film has a dark science fiction feel to it – Michael Crichton ambience. What makes this a little more interesting than the usual online advert is the personalised angle. Of course it is simple hype – but an intriguing touch to incorporate your information into the actual film. When I looked at the flash animation again later – out of the temporary internet files – all signs of personalisation were gone.

Audi A3 Perfect Match

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Martian Smash and PG Tips

Recently a TV4 poll in the UK listed 100 best television adverts of all time. Top of the list was the Guinness Surfer ad. And second in the hearts of the British was the 1974 Cadbury Smash ad – featuring Martians sniggering about the obsession of British people for mashed potatoes. Beats me how this ad managed to reach cult proportions. However – it’s online at DDB London’s flash site, in mpeg form, along with some other classics and current work.

Martian Smash characters

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Gordon Lynch on Generation X After Religion

Gordon Lynch After Religion Book CoverGordon Lynch’s 2002 book, “After Religion: ‘Generation X’ and the search for meaning”, offers a refreshing UK critique of popular writing on generational theory, culture and theology. In this book he’s exploring the validity of generational theory in describing changes in religious attitudes. His work focuses on late or post modernity as a wave as another way of interpreting the trends usually associated with ‘Generation X’.

Gordon Lynch, a lecturer in Practical Theology at the University of Birmingham, specialises in faith and culture studies. He’s writing as a ex ‘evangelical Christian’ with a strong sense of cynicism about the limited relevance of mainstream Christianity to the general population. He begins with a consideration of pessimistic outlooks for Christianity by Steve Bruce, an Aberdeen sociologist who points to the undeniable decline of church attendance in the UK. This is contrasted with the views of Grace Davie, sociologist in Exeter. Davie argues that attendance of worship is not the best way to gauge religious interest.

Lynch concludes that while institutional religion is on the decline, there is a continuing need or desire for personal meaning that may or may not make use of religious ideas or symbols.

Reading from an Australian/NZ perspective, I find I’m already living in the kind of situation Bruce predicts. He’s saying that by 2030 fewer than 10% of babies will be baptised. That would be more than are baptised here in Oz, particularly as the evangelical stream of churches don’t baptise babies anyway! Christendom has always struggled to find its home here.

Lynch goes on to contrast the UK situation with the spiritual marketplace of contemporary America, drawing specifically on Wade Clark Roof’s research. Despite the higher rate of stated involvement in instutional religion in the States, even there sociologists are noticing a trend towards a personal approach to reality that draws on a number of sources and traditions.

That’s the first chapter in a nutshell.

Blood Saves The World

“It’s hard to save the world. Saving a life is. Donating 1 pint of blood can save up to 3 lives. Maybe someone you know.” That’s the line given in a campaign to motivate young adults to consider donating blood as an active way to change the world. Two North American TV ads, “Charlie” and “Julie”, outline the efforts of activists to change their environment through activism – protesting about worker exploitation and environmental pollution. Despite their efforts, social activism seems to be more complicated than they bargained for. And then the silent but simple message quoted above, with an invitation to visit the web site: www.bloodsaves.com

Blood Saves web site screenshot

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