Youth Culture Essay

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Youth is a rather unique group of the general population that appears to play an important role in societal development. Young people, aged between 12 and 25 in particular always demonstrate a tendency to broaden their views, knowledge, and skills, as well as accept all innovations and novelties quickly. For the most part, that is related to the biological processes that take place in the bodies and minds of young people. Nevertheless, youth constitute a large part of human population, with its culture taking its own niche in the society. In fact, youth can be considered an example of cultural phenomenon as they manage to accumulate various cultural aspects and spread them through the generations that follow, thus, enriching and broadening the world culture overall.

Young at Heart: Cultural Processes that Never Stop

Traditionally, culture is a vast complex of traditions, views, and other identifiers characteristic for a group of people, which are expected to be attended by every individual of this group. Such elements and identifiers can include a vast number of things and concepts, from music, dance, and rituals to clothing, culinary, and relics. Hence, culture is an umbrella term that can be applied to any population group not only by ethnicity, but also age and even time period, in which certain culture was the most prominent (Pappas and McKelvie). In this regard, youth culture can be broadly generalized as the culture characteristic for young people in particular. However, the progress evident in many aspects of human life for the past 100 years made such generalization somewhat incomplete and flawed. As time changes the world, youth culture also undergoes significant shifts. Such shifts are so significant that it is possible to point out several youth cultures that existed in the 20th century alone. Nevertheless, one common element of the youth culture has always been present and prominent and, in order to generalize it, it is noteworthy to look into how youth culture developed in the 20th century, when shifts were most noticeable.

One challenging aspect of defining the culture of youth is the multiplicity of factors that the youth culture encompasses in different periods of human history. For example, from the stance of technology, people born in the 1950s and 1960s can be classified as “TV kids” or people born into an era when television became available for the general public. The later generations that were born in the 1970s and 1980s and would become self-conscious children or adolescents in the 1990s can be classified as “computer kids.” Finally, the modern generation of youth born in 2000s and 2010s can be called “gadget kids” (Heilbronner 579; Bennett 137). At the same time, regarding social development and career, modern youth is noted for preferring “DIY careers” or independent occupations rather than a “regular 9 to 5 job” (Bennett 135). It is evident that the factors for defining youth culture are multiple. However, a somewhat philosophical element of the denial of previous cultural tropes can be identified at this point.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, youth has been generally classified as unruly and rebellious. In 1929, the first prisons for adolescents were created in the UK due to the rising crime rates due to young people. In 1947, most Western states would prolong the obligatory formal education with the youth being able to leave school at 15. Later, a number of attempts were made to romanticize the rebellious nature of young people in film, music, and literature. Rebellious teenagers in the 1950s films, punk rock, and self-sufficient young people in modern adolescent novels are all the examples of this (Milestone). These attempts were not in vain and managed to create a staple for youth culture that would transform into thrive for independence coming from youth of the early 21st century. Modern young people appear to denial older cultural tropes of official employment and family and attempt to search for their individual life path on their own. This is, perhaps, what youth culture is about in the contemporary meaning.


Every culture, regardless of the nature of its classification, is a humanitarian phenomenon in the most positive sense of the word. Every culture attempts to bring an element of progress and development of human civilization in its own unique way. Youth culture, however, should be considered a considerable driving force of the progress. The culture of young people is essentially based on denying older cultural tropes out of preference for new and more progressive ones. Youth culture does not hide its nature with younger generations attempting to use every new available resource to drive humanity straight to the progress.

Works Cited

Bennett, Andy. "Youth, Music and DIY Careers". Cultural Sociology, vol 12, no. 2, 2018, pp. 133-139. SAGE Publications, Accessed 22 May 2022.

Heilbronner, Oded. “From a Culture for Youth to a Culture of Youth: Recent Trends in the Historiography of Western Youth Cultures.” Contemporary European History, vol. 17, no. 4, 2008, pp. 575–91. JSTOR, Accessed 22 May 2022.

Milestone, Katie. "Youth Culture". The Guardian, 1999,

Pappas, Stephanie, and Callum McKelvie. "What Is Culture?". Live Science, 2021,

June 06, 2022


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