ISSUE-053

The most effective way to understand contemporary culture is to analyze the trends of its youth.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.


How to understand the contemporary culture of a society? Some propose that the most effective way is to analyze the trends of its youth, for the reason that the younger generations are usually the vanguard of the contemporary culture. While I concede to the claim that the trends of the youth can be indicative of certain aspects of contemporariness, studying them is unlikely the most effective way to understand contemporary culture due to its complexity and the role of other societal groups in shaping a culture.

First of all, it should be indeed acknowledged that the trends of the youth can reflect the contemporary culture, at least in part that is related to fashion (1). The youth is probably the most open-minded member of any society and hence they usually represent the most progressive part of a contemporary culture (2). One example is contemporary Islamic countries in the Middle East such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (3). In such countries with high levels of secularization, the youth is actively participating in activities that are often deemed unorthodox by the traditionalist (3). The behaviors of the youth in those nations are therefore a good representation of the overall cultural trends towards a society with less and less emphasis on the role of religion (3). To quickly sum up, studying the trends of the youth can give insight to the most progressive aspects of a culture (4).

However, studying the trends of the youth may not necessarily be the most effective way to understand a contemporary culture for at least two reasons (1). Firstly, a society is highly complex and it is inconceivable to understand a contemporary culture simply from one aspect (2). Secondly, it should be noted that a society is not only made up of the youth but also other age groups, whose influence on the contemporary culture may be even more significant (2). For example, while it may be true that the trends of the youth can reflect a taste of fashion in a society, it cannot fully reflect the political culture of a country (3). A case in point is the United States of America, where the younger generation is typically leaning towards the Democratic Party (3). If one solely studies the political trends of the youth, he or she may naturally arrive at the conclusion that Hilary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election (3). However, the reality is the opposite: the Republican nominee won the election and the trends of the youth do not accurately reflect the overall political consensus of the entire nation (3). As a result, only studying the trends of the youth can easily lead to a very biased conclusion that does not reflect the reality (4).

To summarize, I agree to certain degree that the trends of the youth can help us understand some aspects of a contemporary culture, but it may not be the most effective way. The reason

is that the society is very complex and many other age groups have considerable influence in shaping the culture. Their trends should be investigated as well.

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