Generation Jones is a term coined by the author Jonathan Pontell to describe those born from approximately 1954 to 1964, while other sources place the start point at 1956 or 1957. This group is essentially the latter half of the baby boomers to the first years of Generation X. Unlike older baby boomers, most of Generation Jones did not grow up with World War II veterans as fathers, and for them there was no compulsory military service and no defining political cause, as opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War had been for older boomers.
The name "Generation Jones" has several connotations, including a large anonymous generation, a "keeping up with the Joneses" competitiveness and the slang word "jones" or "jonesing", meaning a yearning or craving. It is said[by whom?] that Jonesers were given huge expectations as children in the 1960s, and then confronted with a different reality as they came of age during a long period of mass unemployment and when de-industrialization arrived full force in the mid-late 1970s and 1980s, leaving them with a certain unrequited "jonesing" quality for the more prosperous days of the past.
The generation is noted for coming of age after a huge swath of their older brothers and sisters in the earlier portion of the baby boomer population had come immediately preceding them; thus, many Generation Jones members complain that there was a paucity of resources and privileges available to them that were seemingly abundant to those older boomers born earlier. Therefore, there is a certain level of bitterness about and a "jonesing" for the level of freedom and affluence granted to older boomers but denied to their generation.
The term has enjoyed some currency in political and cultural commentary, including during the 2008 United States presidential election, where Generation Jonesers Barack Obama and Sarah Palin were on presidential tickets.
Cultural, economic and political dimensions
Generation Jones has been covered and discussed in newspapers and magazines and on TV and radio shows. Pontell has appeared on TV networks such as CNN, MSNBC, and BBC, discussing the cultural, political, and economic implications of this generation's emergence.
In the business world, Generation Jones has become a part of the strategic planning of many companies and industries, particularly in the context of targeting Jonesers through marketing efforts. Carat UK, a European media buying agency, has done extensive research into Generation Jones consumers.
Politically, Generation Jones has emerged as a crucial voting segment in Western elections. In the U.S. 2006 congressional and 2004 presidential elections, and the 2005 U.K. elections, Generation Jones's electoral role was widely described as pivotal by the media and political pollsters. In the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, Generation Jones was again seen as a key electoral segment because of the high degree to which its members were swing voters during the election cycle. Influential journalists, like Clarence Page and Peter Fenn, singled out Generation Jones voters as crucial in the final weeks of the campaign. Numerous studies have been done by political pollsters and publications analyzing the voting behavior of GenJonesers.
The election to the presidency of Barack Obama, born in 1961, plus Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, born 1964, focused more attention on Generation Jones. Many journalists, publications, and experts — including Jonathan Alter (Newsweek), David Brooks (The New York Times) and Karen Tumulty (Time) — have characterized Obama as a member of Generation Jones.
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