Monday, 27 January 2014

The Yuppie | The Elite of the 1980s

Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class (1989) - Barbara Ehrenreich

A Yuppie? What is a Yuppie? For me and others of the 21st Century a Yuppie is a word that has never crossed our vocabulary and if it did, the first thing I would think is that the word resembled some kind of breed of dog. Where in actuality the word is highly representative of America in the 1980's, for it portrayed the Young Urban Professionals aka YUP's that were out earning a living in this decade. The people that were categorised in this term were those who had either just left high school or just were about to, for whether male or female, their lifestyles and attitude echoed the 1980’s and Reagan's America. For then the Yuppie dressed, acted and seemed to encompass all that was considered to strive and be successful during that decade. Despite yuppies-defined by lifestyle and income, they actually only made up about 5 percent of their generation as stated in my chosen article.

In the article, Barbara Ehrenreich explained that the yuppie were not like other people, specifically “the children of blue collar workers”, for they “did not waste time "finding themselves" or joining radical movements. They plunged directly into the economic mainstream, earning and spending with equal zest”.  Just as much the article comments on a statement from Newsweek that saw the yuppie as emerging during the 1980’s for they, “saw yuppies as the "vanguard of the baby-boom generation, which had ‘marched through the '60s’ and was now speed[ing] toward the airport, advancing on the 1980s in the back seat of a limousine."

However for the main point the article argues that they actually were not as intelligent in their everyday living, considering they were meant to be these highly promising businessmen, for instance Ehrenreich states that; “they did not study; they ‘networked’. They did not save; they spent. And they did not spend on houses or station wagons, but on Rolex watches, Porsches, quick trips to Aruba, and, most notoriously, high-status foods.”

Coinciding with their lifestyles the yuppie thought of themselves as members the elite. They lived in gentrified neighbourhoods from which the working class, poor citizens had been freshly cleared; they worked for firms intent on minimizing the "labour costs" of blue- and pink-collar workers; in effect “their lifestyle was supported by the labour of poorly paid, often immigrant, service workers- housekeepers, restaurant employees, messengers, and delivery "boys." All of which mirrored the intentions of the Right Wing, Republicans.

To contend, yuppies were not as much discovered during the 1980s but rather invented and in turn were used as much to belittle someone’s status than to define them; and as the article points out, “what started as a neutral demographic category evolved with alarming speed into a social slur”. And equally Hendrik Hertzberg wrote in Esquire that the “Yuppie is now understood almost universally as a term of abuse...... You're a yuppie" is taken to mean not "you're a young urban professional" but rather "you have lousy values."


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