"Generation X" in Germany
"The 89ers" or "Generation Golf"
"The ‘89ers in East and West Germany"
"The central experience of Generation X in Germany is the experience of a new form of freedom. People found themselves in a society with different political and social structures that were much more open than before. Travelling was possible; not only from East to West but also vice versa. This way, the West German people could also explore the East and see what had become of the communist utopia, which was an eye opener for some, for others the discovery of a kind of fantasy land because they still thought of communism as a positive utopia. The opening of borders was followed by the opening of the European Union towards the East and the start of a free market economy in Russia and China. Western lifestyle became the social paradigm, while Eastern (socialist) lifestyle quickly vanished and later transformed into being the object of cult and/or nostalgia. There are several movies about the “strange” way of life in GDR-times like Sonnenallee (1999 by Leander Haußmann) or Good Bye Lenin (2003 by Wolfgang Becker).
What unites the cohort called Generation X in Germany is the necessity to deal with this new form of openness. It unites them because they were the ones who had to learn to make a living within the new circumstances that came with the fall of the wall. In 1989, they had been about to start a career or training/study. Thus, it was essential for them to also find their way in a changed world and within new parameters of politics and society. The same accounts for the young people in West Germany, as the German Reunification had a strong impact on the economy throughout the whole country. The old ideologies (of socialism or capitalism) no longer represented a considerable alternative to them. It is possible that they were not stricken by these times of change as were their eastern compatriots, but still: It was a huge change—a change for the entire political reality. Generation X as a term was hardly applied in Germany. Rather, one spoke about Generation Golf (based on a novel by Florian Illies, 2000) in the case of Western Germany or of the children of the "Mauerfall" (coming down of the wall) or 89ers with respect to the East. Nevertheless they also belong in a certain sense to Generation X, since Generation X is closely linked to globalization and openness is the new paradigm which the Xers had to cope with since the early nineties. The East-German members of this generation were confronted with this new openness most strongly, but this challenge existed for all members of this generation—both in an economic and a social sense. The literature about Generation X agrees on one topic: GenXers are skeptical towards any ideology and therefore do not seek for any utopia or ideal state. Politics itself has become a more pragmatic than visionary business. Even young people from East Germany are not known for being very engaged in visionary political activities. The central characteristic of Generation X is its general focus on the private/individual. During the last elections for the Bundestag for example, Germany had the lowest voters turnout ever (70,8% according to official poles, the “Bundeswahlleiter”). People seemed to identify less with the world of politics or their nation state. This “being rootless” also resulted from a high level of mobility. It is now more common than ever to people not settle down but change their work and the country they live in several times throughout their lives."
~ Yvonne Förster-Beuthan, Excerpt from Generation X Goes Global
GENERATION GOLF: EINE INSPEKTION (2001) by Florian Illies,
This book sold six million copies in Germany. The book was a major success due to the fact that it described in a realistic manner the lives of youth born in the 1980s post Cold War period.
The term “Generation Golf” served as a German equivalent to America’s “Generation X” and was based on the advertising campaign for the Volkswagen of the same name and the advertisement, which read “The search for a destination is over” (Hachtmann 12).
According to Illies, the characteristics of the “Golf Generation” revolve around oneself, one’s career, and a fascination for brand names. This generation was also the first to be “hooked” on soap operas such as “Melrose Place” and “90210,” resembling artificial drama that could always either be erased or eventually turn out alright. (12-13).
Hachtmann, Frauke. “Generation X and generation Golf: What Advertisers Need to Know When Targeting German and American Thirtysomethings.” June 18th, 2008
Yvonne Förster-Beuthan. Junior professor for Philosophy of Culture and Arts at Leuphana University at Lüneburg (Germany). Her current work focuses on Philosophy of Art and Fashion, Fashion and Early Romanticism and Philosophy of Time. In June 2012 her book on Philosophy of Time Zeiterfahrung und Ontologie [Experience of Time and Ontology] will be released.
Benjamin Lebert, Crazy (2000)
Christian Kracht, Faserland (1995)
Alexa Hennig von Lange,
Charlotte Roche, Wetlands (2008)
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