Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Generation Y and the World of Work in the Future

Academic journal article Journal of Media Research

Generation Y and the World of Work in the Future

Article excerpt

Introduction

Every generation has its unique defining characteristics, and Generation Y, also known as Digital Natives, Net Generation, Generation@ or Millennials, is the generation which has grown up with the Internet. Generation Y is the term given to the generation succeeding Generation X and preceding Generation Z. Hence, Generation Y refers to a specific generation born from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. However, experts neither agree on an exact year when the era of Generation Y started nor do they claim a distinct year to mark an endpoint of the era. However, what definitely sets apart Generation Y from their forerunners is the fact that they grew up alongside mediatization and globalization.

The definition of a whole generation inevitably inspires passionate debates as individuals are different concerning their social, cultural and economic backgrounds. Some scientists even refuse to accept the concept of generations. In their eyes it is virtually impossible to apply one definition to all as it comprises a range of diverse people. However, according to scientific literature portraying Generation Y, there are some characteristics which individuals of Generation Y obviously have in common and which set them apart from previous generations. Individuals of Generation Y differ in terms of attitudes, values and behavioral patterns from their predecessors. As a consequence, they tend to question strict hierarchies and entrenched structures. Although they are described as ambitious and determined, they appreciate a proper work-life balance. Unlike previous generations they are no longer willing to sacrifice their family lives to their careers. Hence, they expect employers to ensure the reconcilability of family and working life. Having grown up in a multioption society, Generation Y expresses a great need for individualism and flexibility, not only in their private lives, but also in their working environments.

As Generation Y ascends the career ladder now and in the years to come, they are already influencing German companies and human resources managers. Especially against the backdrop of an anticipated labor shortage, Generation Y and their attitudes will shape the German economy. This article will contribute to an analysis of Generation Y, not only in terms of their chances and choices, but also by identifying the stumbling blocks which might stand in their way when it comes to making a career.

Theoretical framework

In recent years, mediatization has emerged as an important concept and theoretical framework for considering the interplay between media, culture and society. Some of the most prevalent researchers in mediatization are noted to be Andreas Hepp, Stig Hjarvard, Friedrich Krote and Knut Lundby (Lunt and Livingstone, 2016). Although the idea of mediatization dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, the current concept was not outlined before the last decade (Ekström et al., 2016; Hepp, 2013). However, the researchers have not yet reached a consensus about a comprehensive definition of mediatization (Deacon and Stanyer, 2014; Hepp et al., 2015). On the one hand, there are researchers who consider that the concept is based on the institutionalist tradition. On the other hand, there are those who argue that mediatization is based on the socio-constructivist tradition (Hepp, 2013; Birkner, 2015).

If mediatization was based on institutionalism, larger and smaller scale institutions, agencies and organizations would shape and regulate the communicative practices of media and the audience would need to adapt to the media and its objectives (Deacon and Stanyer, 2014; Hepp, 2013; Strömbäck and Van Aelst, 2013).

This understanding is contrasted by disciples of the socio-constructivist tradition. One distinctive feature of the socio-constructivist approach is that it takes into account the change of the audience as well. The media and the media audience are both constantly changing and this approach aims to relate these changes to each other (Hepp, 2013; Hepp et al. …

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