Yuppism... is not definable entirely by income or class. Rather, it is a late-20th century cultural phenomenon of self-absorbed young professionals, earning good pay, enjoying the cultural attractions of sophisticated urban life and thought, and generally out of touch with, indeed antithetical to, most of the challenges and concerns of a far less well-off and more parochial Middle America. For the yuppie male a well-paying job in tech, law, finance, academia or consulting in a cultural hub, hip fashion, cool appearance, studied poise, elite education, proper recreation and fitness and general proximity to liberal-thinking elites, especially of the more rarefied sort in the arts, are the mark of a real man.
By no coincidence it was in the early 1980s that the term "yuppie" was coined. That word is not much used now, because the phenomenon it describes is so taken for granted, but at the time it was a label for something novel. Yuppies were young professionals who made lots of money. To someone in their twenties today, this wouldn't seem worth naming. Why wouldn't young professionals make lots of money? But until the 1980s being underpaid early in your career was part of what it meant to be a professional. Young professionals were paying their dues, working their way up the ladder. The rewards would come later. What was novel about yuppies was that they wanted market price for the work they were doing now.
Joseph Epstein was credited for coining the term in 1982, although this is contested. The first printed appearance of the word was in a May 1980 Chicago magazine article by Dan Rottenberg. The term gained currency in the United States in 1983 when syndicated newspaper columnist Bob Greene published a story about a business networking group founded in 1982 by the former radical leader Jerry Rubin, formerly of the Youth International Party (whose members were called "yippies"); Greene said he had heard people at the networking group (which met at Studio 54 to soft classical music) joke that Rubin had "gone from being a yippie to being a yuppie". The headline of Greene's story was From Yippie to Yuppie. East Bay Express humorist Alice Kahn claimed to have coined the word in a 1983 column. This claim is disputed. The proliferation of the word was affected by the publication of The Yuppie Handbook in January 1983 (a tongue-in-cheek take on The Official Preppy Handbook), followed by Senator Gary Hart's 1984 candidacy as a "yuppie candidate" for President of the United States. The term was then used to describe a political demographic group of socially liberal but fiscally conservative voters favoring his candidacy. Newsweek magazine declared 1984 "The Year of the Yuppie", characterizing the salary range, occupations, and politics of "yuppies" as "demographically hazy". The alternative acronym yumpie, for young upwardly mobile professional, was also current in the 1980s but failed to catch on.
In a 1985 issue of The Wall Street Journal, Theressa Kersten at SRI International described a "yuppie backlash" by people who fit the demographic profile yet express resentment of the label: "You're talking about a class of people who put off having families so they can make payments on the SAABs ... To be a Yuppie is to be a loathsome undesirable creature". Leo Shapiro, a market researcher in Chicago, responded, "Stereotyping always winds up being derogatory. It doesn't matter whether you are trying to advertise to farmers, Hispanics or Yuppies, no one likes to be neatly lumped into some group".
The word lost most of its political connotations and, particularly after the 1987 stock market crash, gained the negative socio-economic connotations that it sports today. On April 8, 1991, Time magazine proclaimed the death of the "yuppie" in a mock obituary.
The term has experienced a resurgence in usage during the 2000s and 2010s. In October 2000, David Brooks remarked in a Weekly Standard article that Benjamin Franklin – due to his extreme wealth, cosmopolitanism, and adventurous social life – is "Our Founding Yuppie". A recent article in Details proclaimed "The Return of the Yuppie", stating that "the yuppie of 1986 and the yuppie of 2006 are so similar as to be indistinguishable" and that "the yup" is "a shape-shifter... he finds ways to reenter the American psyche." Victor Davis Hanson also recently wrote in National Review very critically of "yuppies."
Usage outside of the United States
"Yuppie" was in common use in Britain from the early 1980s onwards and by 1987 had spawned subsidiary terms used in newspapers such as "yuppiedom", "yuppification", "yuppify" and "yuppie-bashing".
A September 2010 article in The Standard described the items on a typical Hong Kong resident's "yuppie wish list" based on a survey of 28- to 35-year-olds. About 58% wanted to own their own home, 40% wanted to professionally invest, and 28% wanted to become a boss. A September 2010 article in the New York Times defined as a hallmark of Russian "yuppie life" adoption of yoga and other elements of Indian culture such as their clothes, food, and furniture.
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- "yuppie, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- Victor Davis Hanson (August 13, 2010). "Obama: Fighting the Yuppie Factor". National Review. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
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- Wong, Natalie (September 8, 2010). "Homes, cash top fairy tales on yuppie wish list". The Standard.
- Kishkovsky, Sophia (September 14, 2010). "Russians Embrace Yoga, if They Have the Money". The New York Times.
- Lowy, Richard (June 1991). "Yuppie Racism: Race Relations in the 1980s". Journal of Black Studies. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. 21 (4): 445–464. ISSN 0021-9347. doi:10.1177/002193479102100405.
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