2016 German teens just want to be mainstream

Financial crises and an uncertain future are making young Germans risk-averse and driving them into a cultural mainstream – although they're also the most socially tolerant generation ever, a new study claims.

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

“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.

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.

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EU greenlights €200M for Spain to bring super fast internet speeds to rural areas

Brussels has approved a plan which will bring high-speed broadband internet to the almost 1 in 10 people in Spain who live in underpopulated rural areas with poor connections, a way of also encouraging remote workers to move to dying villages. 

EU greenlights €200M for Spain to bring super fast internet speeds to rural areas
The medieval village of Banduxo in Asturias. Photo: Guillermo Alvarez/Pixabay

The European Commission has given Spain the green light to use €200 million of the funds allocated to the country through the Next Generation recovery plan to offer internet speeds of up to 300 Mbps (scalable to 1Gb per second) to rural areas with slow internet connections. 

According to Brussels, this measure will help guarantee download speeds of more than 100 Mbps for 100 percent of the Spanish population in 2025.

Around 8 percent of Spain’s population live in areas where speeds above 100Mbs are not available, mostly in the 6,800 countryside villages in Spain that have fewer than 5,000 inhabitants.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen plans to travel to Madrid on Wednesday June 16th to hand over to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez the approved reform plan for Spain. 

Back in April, Spain outlined its Recovery and Resilience plan aimed at revitalising and modernising the Spanish economy following the coronavirus crisis, with €72 billion in EU grants over the next two years.

This includes green investments in energy transition and housing, boosting science and technology education and digital projects such as the fast-speed internet project which aims to avoid depopulation in rural areas. 

It’s worth noting that these plans set out €4.3 billion for broadband internet and 5G mobile network projects in rural areas in Spain, so this initial investment should be the first of many.

Over the past 50 years, Spain’s countryside has lost 28 percent of its population as Spaniards left to find jobs in the big cities. 

The gap has been widening ever since, local services and connections with the developed cities have worsened, and there are thousands of villages which have either been completely abandoned or are at risk of dying out. 


How Spaniards are helping to save the country’s 4,200 villages at risk of extinction

rural depopulation spain

The pandemic has seen a considerable number of city dwellers in Spain move or consider a move to the countryside to gain space, peace and quiet and enjoy a less stressful life, especially as the advent of remote working in Spain can allow for this. 

Addressing the issue of poor internet connections is one of the best incentives for digital workers to move to the countryside, bringing with them their families, more business and a new lease of life for Spain’s villages.


Nine things you should know before moving to rural Spain