Youth Culture: Benefits and Drawbacks

Context to understanding “where you are”

I begin our Globiana webinars with the caution that although the majority of the information we present about America is current at the time of writing, we’re living in unprecedentedly changing times. Culture is dynamic and it seems that every topic we cover demonstrates that better than the next. Youth is a subculture that does this exponentially. It’s the epitome of change, flux, and trends because the drivers are Millennial’s who want the whole world, and they want it now. Moreover they can get it. Much of what was handed down wisdom and advice has been replaced by YouTube or the internet. There are no more mysteries. In in the words of Margo Channing in All About Eve, a film that’s practically an American folktale about the ferocity (and betrayal) of youth’s ambition, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night” as we explore the 24/7 online digital interconnected high speed world of the expectations of American Youth. This cultural dimension, perhaps above all else, may account for the most unpredictable experiences as an expat in the USA. While it may not seem like Youth can be so potent, their preferences, expectations, and tendencies overshadow our national culture in ways you never imagined.


Youth culture is strengthened in America an earlier age than elsewhere, although culture is dynamic so we see it happening now in other parts of the world too but less so, wherever a middle class is rapidly emerging. It’s further distanced from the experiences of their parents (or ancestors) beginning in institutions like day care and schools; their shared experiences with toys, food, movies, fashion; and outside the adult authority of socializing institutions such as online living, taking selfies, or other common activities like sleepovers and skateboarding. Understand that what’s normal is for the Youth around you to check the cell phone over 100 times a day.

Amit-Talai, Vered, and Helena Wulff, eds. 1995. Youth Cultures: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. London: Routledge.

Austin, Joe, and Michael Willard, eds. 1998. Generations of Youth: Youth Cultures and History in Twentieth-Century America. New York: New York University Press.

Brake, Michael. 1985. Comparative Youth Culture. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Fass, Paula S. 1977. The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gelder, Ken, and Sarah Thornton, eds. 1997. The Subcultures Reader. London: Routledge.

Inness, Sherrie, ed. 1998. Delinquents and Debutantes: Twentieth Century American Girls’ Culture. New York: New York University Press.

Kett, Joseph. 1977. Rites of Passage: Adolescence in America 1790 to the Present. New York: Basic Books.

Levi, Giovanni, and Jean-Claude Schmitt, eds. 1997. A History of Young People in the West, Vol. 1.Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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