• Germany's news in English
2016 German teens just want to be mainstream
"This map says there's another H&M over there!" Photo: obs/ruf Reisen GmbH

2016 German teens just want to be mainstream

DPA/The Local · 26 Apr 2016, 15:19

Published: 26 Apr 2016 15:19 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“For most 14- to 17-year-olds today, it's true that they want to be like everyone else,” the authors of the Sinus Study, a report by an umbrella group of researchers, wrote in a press release on Tuesday.

The picture is a far cry from the traditional image of German youth, which has in past decades tended to form into distinct subcultures – from hippies to punks – that have gone on to shape the social and political landscape.

But in in-depth interviews with 72 teenagers, researchers found that external influences like economic struggles, terrorist attacks and an increasingly uncertain, globalized world were moulding the young into a homogenous mass.

"If we work hard at school, we might be able to work for a couple of years before the robots take all our jobs!". Photo: DPA

“This is a non-rebellious generation whose highest aim is to enter society,” researcher Klaus Hurrelmann said, warning that the mainstream trend might lead to “over-conformity out of fear”.

That's certainly true in the areas where teens have most traditionally sought to distinguish themselves – for instance, through clothing, music, or favourite films.

“This is the first generation where parents and children listen to the same music and mothers ask their daughters about fashion blogs,” study author Marc Calmbach said.

Researchers did identify different groups within teen culture, dubbing them “conservatives”, “pragmatists”, “greens”, or “hedonists”.

“But throughout all the groups there is a feeling of common ground,” Hurrelmann said.

The last time researchers noticed such an effect among young people was in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, until the rebellious generation of 1968 began challenging the conservative social order of their parents.

A tolerant generation

Study author Calmbach said he had been surprised by just how much young people were thinking about the basic values that bind society together.

They put a high value on freedom and the rule of law, he said, and were thinking a lot about protecting the environment and conscious consumption – although that didn't always influence their shopping choices.

Many young people volunteered to help refugees in summer 2015, as here at Munich main station. Photo: DPA

Even in interviews conducted at the height of Germany's 2015 refugee crisis, teens from all social backgrounds agreed that violence should be avoided and that xenophobia and religious intolerance were wrong.

A significant majority also said that taking in refugees was the right thing for Germany to do.

Story continues below…

Digital detox

Unlike earlier cohorts of teenagers, who spent years locked in battle with their parents over time spent online or playing video games, today's adolescents benefit from an adult world permeated by technology.

Parents themselves are now often constantly online and embarrassing their offspring with affectionate comments on Facebook photos.

But things have now reached the point where teens themselves feel like they need a break from a world lived at break-neck electronic speed.

Some have turned to cooking or gardening as ways of giving themselves some downtime from their smartphones – although the respite is only ever temporary.

The Sinus study has been carried out every four years since 2008 and aims to understand German teenagers' lives. Researchers spoke to young people from different social backgrounds between July and October 2015.
While it's not a statistically  representative sample, researchers say that the in-depth interviews offer them indispensable insights into how adolescents tick.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd