eCite Digital Repository

Beyond millennials v baby boomers: using kindness to assess generationalism across four age cohorts in Australia


Hookway, N and Woodman, D, Beyond millennials v baby boomers: using kindness to assess generationalism across four age cohorts in Australia, The Sociological Review, 69, (4) pp. 830-845. ISSN 0038-0261 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© The Author(s) 2021

DOI: doi:10.1177/00380261211016280


Today’s young people (youth and young adults) are routinely understood in generational terms, constructed as narcissistic and selfish in comparison with their predecessors. Despite announcements of a weakening commitment to values of kindness and generosity, there is little empirical research that examines these trends. The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes shows that young people are more likely to be kind but are less likely to think most Australians are kind. This article investigates this tension using focus groups with Australians of different ages (corresponding to major generational groupings) and drawing on the sociology of generations. To differentiate between generation, period and age/life-cycle effects requires longitudinal methods. However, these qualitative data suggest that a ‘generationalist’ discourse of young people as narcissistic is powerful in Australia and that young people are both internalising and challenging this framing. They appear to be responding to common experiences of growing up with the social and economic uncertainties of an ‘until-further-notice’ world and express strong support for values of kindness and openness to difference.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:young people, ethics, morality, generation, youth, kindness, focus groups
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Social change
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Hookway, N (Dr Nicholas Hookway)
ID Code:144821
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2021-06-15
Last Modified:2021-09-16

Repository Staff Only: item control page