The most effective way to understand contemporary culture is to analyze the trends of its youth. (Issue Task for AWA section in GRE)

Mariam Tariq
3 min readMar 25, 2021

ISSUE TASK:

Culture is an umbrella term characterizing the knowledge and inherent skills of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. It is a confluence of shared patterns of interaction and cognitive behaviour learned by socialization. Contemporary culture is a relatively open term that refers to the common themes of art, music, architecture, literature that were popular at a particular time. It may also encompass political views, religious beliefs, news events that lead to trends at that time.

History has given us sundry instances how youth have set the ball rolling for new traditions, by taking a pinch of essence from the traditional bucket and some more through their own innovation. My view that culture is well comprehended by studying the trends of youth can be reinforced by the age of revival or Renaissance, where people quashed the traditional conservative thinking of their ancestors. They did away with the dogmas and banality and stirred up the masses with rationality, skepticism and original thinking. Numerous art moguls like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello conformed to this. Renaissance scientists like Galileo, Descartes, Newton changed the course of science and invention. From the earth is flat to the totalitarian nature of the church, all popular beliefs were challenged and a new foundation was laid.

Later again in time, there was fight for equality of men and women rights be it suffrage rights or equal pay, fight against apartheid and racism to today when most of us are fighting for rights of LGBT community or need to understand and alleviate climate change. Youth trends are conducive to cultural growth and upliftment not just because they have power to be persuasive or are pragmatic in their approach but because they are the forerunners of our future.

From as trifling as the behaviour of Americans that they are outgoing and more exploring than South-East Asians to the never smiling Russians, it may seem like that this is a frivolous instance to cite but as trivial as demeanor of humans may sound, it sets a trend about the practices and habits for the people belonging to a region. Each new generation passes down the habits and practices, moulding the shape of the clay pot that is our future. As early as 5th century B.C. , the Spartans were associated with self control and stoicism in contrast to the indulgent and free thinking of the citizens of Athens. Habits and nature of the youth here again determined the culture of the people of this duration. Many might advocate that youth are influenced by the latest hottest fad and that the permanence of it is as transient as the attention span of a hummingbird. But what may seem like a culture on its own was actually what caught the eye more. The level of publicity and marketing it reached. For instance, the latter half of the last century in the 1960’s and 1970’s was all about tune in, turn on and drop out, marking it as the age of rock and roll. But for every student or young adult who had a punk rock hair style or was into drugs there were thousands who attended classes, graduated and took traditional jobs. What may seem like a culture was a big departure from the actual reality and yet the time span has iconically been identified as Rock and labelling it as anything else would be an anachronism.

Today, in the age of technology and social media, everything may seem like a culture in itself, yet it is not so. Culture is a complex term to be gauged on trends and number of likes and dislikes. Whereas at the same time it is underscoring the peaks and pits like the MeToo and Black Lives Matter movement. Youth are definitely responsible for leading their generation hence considering their trends to be inconsequential towards cultural development would be a mistake. Therefore I feel that there may be other significant parameters that will help us to understand the culture better yet youth trends lay the base foundation for comprehending contemporary culture by thriving on it.

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Mariam Tariq

Grad student• Product Manager• Product Designer I am trying to learn how to believe in myself more, one day at a time.