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Youth Culture and Fashion


Eurokids Go Through the EC Blender


* What do you understand by the term 'youth culture'? Is it a positive term?
* Does a European culture exist? How is it different from your national culture?

Teenagers are becoming more and more like each other, says a new survey.
Roger Tredre reports

European teenagers are turning their backs on American culture and displaying a much greater enthusiasm for European unity than their elders, according to a survey report. Eurokids, published tomorrow by Alto, a pan-European advertising agency group, suggests that young Europeans are more independently minded than was once thought. They watch American films, but do not consider the US or its culture the source of all inspiration.

The report also suggests that the young are more eager than previous generations to live a genuinely Euro-lifestyle. English is their lingua franca and InterRail their passport. They are in a hurry to learn English and they make 40 per cent more foreign visits than adults (in Spain, Portugal and Greece, the figure is nearer 60). Home-grown youth culture is the unifying force of the new generation. "Eurokids" listen to European rave music, wear French and Italian jeans, watch European "video-jockeys" on the satellite music channel MTV, and gather in tapas bars. When they do look beyond Europe, it is to the East. They are interested in Japan, which they see as a hi-tech paradise and home of hip foods such as sushi.

The researchers built up their portrait of the typical Eurokid by interviewing groups of people aged under 25 in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Dusseldorf, London, Milan and Paris. Seventy-eight per cent expressed approval of the EC. "Everywhere we went, we found the young talking enthusiastically about a united Europe," Mr Silvester said. "They are puzzled by their parents' reticence." Ali Mobasser, 16, expressed distrust of the US: "It's a fake place. It doesn't have any history. There's more of a community m Europe." His views were echoed by Kate Chesshyre, 15. "The Americans are so arrogant. Europe needs its own identity."

While older generations remain entrenched within their national identities, the report suggests, the under-30s in the EC countries are drawing closer together. In particular, the divide between the north, where the young leave home to live independent lives, and the south, where they remain part of an extended family, is narrowing.

Young Europeans delay getting married until later in life in both the north and south. Between 1980 and 1989, the average age of first marriage for women rose from 22.6 years to 25.6 years in the Netherlands and from 22.3 to 23.5 years in Greece.

This pattern is repeated throughout the EC both for age of marriage and first pregnancy. Mr Silvester said: "The concept of the extended family is on the way out in southern Europe. More and more young Italians and Spanish, for example, don't see care of their parents as a personal duty in the way they used to." He predicted that the lifestyles of northern and southern Eurokids would be indistinguishable by the end of the decade.

The convergence of north and south embraces everything from sex to food. The Spanish are adopting the favourite dishes of German youth: frozen chips and pizzas. A third of young Spaniards eat convenience meals - unknown 10 years ago.

The spread of video and youth oriented programmes is pushing European youth culture underground. Ninety-one per cent of the 18- to 25-year-olds had colour TV in their home, and 50 per cent had a video. Mr Silvester said: "In the Sixties, the TV culture which unified and directed American youth had an anodyne content because it had to be acceptable for family viewing. In the Nineties, kids are watching their own programmes on their TVs and videos in their bedrooms. TV is now becoming part of a youth subculture."


  1. What is the young Europeans' attitude to American culture?
  2. Describe a typical `Eurokid' in as much detail as possible.
  3. How is the youth media culture of today different from TV culture in the Sixties?
What's in
What's out
  • Anything Japanese 
  • House Music 
  • Going to Thailand 
  • Rainforests 
  • Tarot 
  • Small Cars 
  • Shamanic arts 
  • Jazz 
  • Crystals 
  • Tapas 
  • Mineral Water 
  • Prague 
  • Video Games 
  • MTV 
  • Vegetarianism 
  • Second-hand clothing 
  • Money 
  • Settling down 
  • Yuppies 
  • Burgers 
  • Designer fashion 
  • Nuclear power 
  • Stadium rock bands 
  • Greed 
  • Sports cars 
  • Filofaxes 
  • Matt black furniture 
  • Plastic surgery 
  • Miami Beach 
  • Power lunching 

DISCUSSION: cultural melting pot

  1. Are European youth cultures becoming more similar?
  2. Do you agree that ' America is 'a fake place without any real history'? How does its culture compare with Europe's culture? Do you consider yourself pro-American, anti-American, or neutral? Why?
  3. Do you feel European? If yes, in what way? through cinema? culture? literature? music? fashion? food? family life? ideas?
  4. Is the term 'Eurokid' a meaningless label created by the media?
  5. Do you think the article is correct that the extended family is disappearing in Europe? How independent are you from your family?
  6. Can you give an explanation for why young people in Europe are getting married later and starting families later? In what other ways are European habits hanging?
  7. In which cultures, European or otherwise, could you feel at home? Why? In which countries would you not want to live or work?
  8. Look at the What's In and What's Out box. What do you agree and disagree with? What would you add to each list? Why?
  • Every year the average American spends 250 hours listening to music, 1,500 hours watching TV, 50 hours watching home videos, 95 hours reading books for pleasure, 175 hours reading newspapers, 12 hours watching movies (films). How many hours do you spend on these activities per week/per year? First make rough notes then interview each other.
  • What other leisure activities do you do? In pairs discuss how different are you from the average American?


    Eurokids go through the EC blender

    adopting: using as their own. anodyne: bland; uncontroversial. approval: acceptance. arrogant: self-important. blender: mixer. built up: created. care of: looking after. concept: idea. convenience meals: fast (to prepare) food. convergence: coming together. decade: ten years. displaying: showing. divide: gap; difference. drawing closer: coming together. eager: enthusiastic. echoed: repeated. embraces: includes. entrenched: fixed; trapped.
    extended family: big family of different generations. fake: false. gather: come together. genuinely: truly. hip (!): fashionable. hi-tech: very modern. home-grown: not imported; national. indistinguishable: identical. on the way out (!): disappearing. pan-European: all over Europe. portrait: picture. puzzled by: surprised; confused. reticence: hesitation. source: origin. tapas: Spanish-style food. turning their backs on: rejecting. underground: in private. viewing: watching.

    What's In...What's Out

    filofax: designer diary. greed: great desire for money. house music: acid house; rave. matt: not shiny. plastic surgery: cosmetic surgery. power lunching (!): business lunches. rainforests: tropical forests. second-hand: used. settling down: becoming calmer; getting a house and family. shamanic arts: a shaman is a witch doctor (often in Asia) and is the source of 'good' magic; shamanic arts are all cultural things relating to the good supernatural world. tapas: Spanish-style food. tarot: cards to predict the future. yuppies: young professional people with a large income.

    From "Ideas and Issues" by Lisa Gerard-Sharp
    Published by kind permission of "Chancerel International"

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