Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Setting the Stage for Theory S: II. The Social and Cultural Characteristics of Generational Age Groups

Setting the Stage for Theory S: II. The Social and Cultural Characteristics of Generational Age Groups

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Having parents who dedicated their lives to giving their children more than they got, Boomers have been characterized as a “spoiled” and “feel good” generation of the 20th Century. They also have been characterized as self-absorbed seekers of instant gratification, uncomfortable with personal conflict, and overly sensitive to feedback. But Boomers also are more tolerant than other generations and feel money will always be available for everyone. Sharing an expectation of prosperity and affluence, Boomers easily embrace social programs (Endnote 11).

Boomers have brought productivity to the forefront of their communities and workplaces and are firmly in control—which is now beginning to change, with the oldest of them starting to retire. They run local, state, and national governments, are the bosses, supervisors, managers, and CEOs of most companies, and dominate the workforce. In these roles Boomers are optimistic, thrive on change, and are willing to go the extra mile. They possess an intense work ethic and measure it by hours at the job (true workaholics, their vacation IS work). They also are competitive by nature and expect loyalty from those with whom they work. Yet they believe teamwork and a collegial leadership style are critical to success, and they feel relationship-building is key (Endnote 12).

Boomers first came to political awareness during the cultural turmoil and failed presidencies of the late 1960s and 1970s. They are fairly evenly divided in their party and ideological identifications, reflecting a gender gap between strongly Democratic women and conservative Republican men. Many of these men and women claim allegiance to neither party. They often either have no party affiliations (and have grown politically apathetic) or they are members of the Purple Nation who tend to be blue (left) on social issues and red (right wing) on economic issues (especially those issues pertaining to taxes and government spending). Many of these Purple Nation Boomers take a moralistic and value-oriented approach to politics. They are highly concerned with almost all issues, but especially the economy, healthcare, changes in societal values, and the Middle Eastern wars; they tend to hold strong and relatively extreme positions on most issues (Endnote 13).

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