Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials
"American kids now find themselves... overworked, underplayed, gold-starred, and tired, wondering where all their time went." This observation forms the foundation of Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials, Malcolm Harris's compelling examination of not just what characterizes millennials (at minimum, a birth year between 1980 and 2000) but the forces that have shaped the generation and the hyper-competitive state it finds itself in.
Harris (who was born in 1988) argues that millennial experiences are broad and complicated, but at their core are labor and competition. He cites research from a variety of echelons and specialties, probing how and why millennials have emerged to be super-educated yet underemployed, calling out both conservatives and progressives for exacerbating or misrepresenting the situation.
Harris culls from studies, journals, novels, sports writing, economists, sociologists and psychologists, exploring what it means to be a millennial. His research is creative and well-curated, quoting Hanna Rosin (NPR, Slate) one minute, and comedian Chris Rock the next: "Do you know what it means when someone pays you minimum wage? I would pay you less, but it's against the law."
Humor keeps Harris's project from being altogether frightening. He considers possible responses to contemporary problems with delightfully deemed "Bop It Solutions," in reference to a popular 1990s toy. Among these are Buy It, Vote It, Give It and Protest It, but Harris acknowledges that none of the options are as simple as they sound. They exist alongside each other, each with distinct possibilities and problems--just like generations. --Katie Weed, freelance writer and reviewer