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Reader’s Comment: Middle class kids think life is one long gap year

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In response to Laura Perrins: Middle classes become the new poor as feminism kills off the male breadwinner, PerplexedSardine wrote:

While the effects you mention are doubtless present, I think the decline of the middle class is also due to a crisis of expectations, well summarised in this article.

It is overwhelmingly middle class children whom are encouraged to pursue their fantasies, get enormously into debt buying degrees of dubious value while building up no practical skills, and find themselves struggling to compete for work that children used to do in the summer holidays. This itself can, I think, be traced back to the destruction of the ideas of middle class respectability, and that secure work was a duty and fulfilment was something generally found outside work (does the Western decline of religion play a part here?).

Many of those young people struggling to get by waiting for their big break as an artist/writer/aid worker seem to imagine that their lives ought to be one long gap year. Add to that a housing crisis, as well as the gender strife Mrs Perrins speaks of (the difference between men and women’s choices of degrees must also play a part), and you’ve a recipe for a lot of highly-educated yet unemployable young people, bitter and bewildered that employment is not the glamorous world they thought it would be, and struggling to support themselves.

The cycle of underachievement and resentment is self-enforcing. How many of these young people will try to sell their children the same idealism? How many will be able to give their children the expensive education and upbringing they’ve often had? Without a huge cultural injection of duty and selflessness, the decline will continue. Working class children, whom I imagine have fewer illusions, are probably more blessed in spirit.

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