Monday, April 16, 2007

like mother, like daughter?

Fashion brand Comptoir des Cotonniers has run a 'mothers and daughters' theme ad campaign for ten years:

Casting real shoppers from their stores, the campaign illustrates how small the generation gap is in these days of 'kidults', extended adolescence and parents-as-peers. In China the situation is markedly different. The generations are separated by enormous differences in values, experiences and priorities. Below are a couple of photos from a Chinese artist's study of teenagers and their parents, although extreme they aren't unrepresentative:

You certainly don't get the impression these parent/child teams would be fighting over who gets to wear the ironically distressed boho blouse.

And it's not just about the key generations not being able to relate. The generation gap is also defined on far more incremental levels in China with 30 year olds despairing of 25 year olds, 24 year olds thinking 19 year olds have a completely different mindset, 19 year olds who just don't get 16 year olds etc - it's a case of often big gaps between small age differences, versus the west's small differences despite big gaps in years. These micro-cohorts are an symptom of the speed of change in the country since the '80s.

And when your older cousin doesn't understand you what hope is there for Mum and Dad?


Richard Young said...

I guess it's all about the speed of social change, (more importantly) the ease of social mobility – and, critically, affluence. In the west, virtually no-one is poor and almost everyone moved off the land at least two generations ago. Until our generation, the whole point was that people had greater affluence and choice than their parents. So the yoof would naturally be massively different in outlook - hence the teenage rebellions of the 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s. We now talk about the next generation being on a par with their parents in terms of wealth and opportunity (or even being poorer and having fewer choices), so the differences are shrinking.

Those older folks in the pictures from China probably remember Mao - their parents were part of the Cultural Revolution. No wonder their kids can't relate.

I love the point about the attitude gap being so small, though. Which begs the question: what (if any) commonalities between these different strata of youth will define the culture and the social model for the nation as a whole when the older generation lose their grip?

Anonymous said...

i love my mother because she is something special for me