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A generation refers to a group of people born around the same time who share similar characteristics.
People belonging to the same generation are moulded by the same environmental influences and tend to have similar attitudes and behaviour.
Although stereotyping is unhelpful, generation labels are popular because they allow discussions based on common characteristics and behaviour patterns.
Understanding how a particular generation thinks can be helpful when there is conflict or a lack of communication between the generations. This is especially true of the workplace where different generations must work cohesively.
Our latest course - Communicating across generational barriers - explores this concept, and offers ideas on how to bridge the gap.
Click on the dates below to understand more about the different generations.
Individuals in this generation came of age during the First World War and experienced unimaginable loss of life and mass migration.
Youth who returned home from the war felt powerless, disillusioned and lacked a sense of purpose, and were hence termed the "Lost Generation". The term was coined by the author Gertrude Stein, who famously said "You are all a lost generation".
The last person from that generation is thought to be Emma Martina Luigia Morano who died in April 2017.
This generation grew up in the Great Depression and many fought in World War II. They were named the "Greatest Generation" because of their ability to get on and deal with the situation, their sense of duty and honour, and for service to their country.
There are quite a few from this generation (famously Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States), who are still alive. World War II veterans from that period are honoured as part of the D-Day celebrations in the UK.
This generation were those who became adults in the post-war period. The children of this generation were brought up to be "seen and not heard". They were a more secure generation with a stable environment, and they did not know or want to protest against their governments.
Her Majesty the Queen is one of the most prominent figures still living from this generation. “Complaining” was said to be an anathema to people from this era.
This is the only generation defined by an official government body (the US Census Bureau). There was a huge surge of births (population "boom") when soldiers returned home after the war, which then declined around 1964. This generation called the "Baby Boomers" carried a general sense of optimism. They had confidence in themselves, and once established enjoyed prosperous consumerism.
Quite a few from this generation are still part of the workplace, hold responsible positions in the industry and have influence within governments. Elton John, Barack Obama and Bill Gates all belong to this generation.
This generation saw the development of technology with the first personal computers being built, although it wasn't readily available to the masses. They were sometimes called the "Baby Busters" since the population 'boom' had started declining by this point. They are generally mistrusting of institutional authority and have a strongly built-in sense of rebellion.
Elon Musk, Julian Assange, and many current UK politicians and heads of institutions, were born in this generation.
This generation is referred to as the “Millennials” because they became adults at the turn of the millennium. This is the first generation which is digitally savvy, and they are not dependent on getting their information from others. They approach the internet for all their needs and so are extremely self-sufficient.
This self-sufficiency and confidence makes them question authority and rebel against norms that include "this is how we have always done it".
Mark Zuckerberg and Prince William of Cambridge are two well-known millennials.
This generation is also known as “iGen” because their lives are defined by personal technology and social media.
Across the globe, this generation is racially and ethnically diverse, better educated and socially and environmentally aware. Generation Z is said to be depressed by the world around them, which makes them more likely to engage in social activism.
Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai are good examples of this generation.
We know very little about this generation, not even if the current name label is going to be accepted by future generations. Generation Alpha is the first to be born entirely in the 21st century, with most members of Generation Alpha being the children of millennials.
Despite their age, it has been shown that this generation is influencing the spending trends of their parents (the Millennials). They know about brands, fashion and technology.
This is also the first generation to be given screens (smartphones, iPads and tablets) for entertainment and education right from their infancy.
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