Who Is Generation Jones?
Before Generation X came Generation Jones. This is the micro-generation between Baby Boomers and Generation X that was born during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Read on to learn more about this important generation in American life and politics.
Origin of the Term Generation Jones
If not for Jonathan Pontell there might not be a Generation Jones. A cultural historian and political consultant, Pontell coined the term around 1999. This was preceded by extensive research, which concluded that a micro-generation existed between Boomers and Xers. Pontell, who was born in 1960, had a primary thesis: While the 1960s may have impacted him and his contemporaries, they were not shaped by the historic events that shaped Baby Boomers. In particular, Vietnam, Woodstock and hippie culture. In other words, Gen-Jones was “wide-eyed” in the 1960s, not “tie-dyed.”
Following a survey of 650 people, Pontell decided upon the name Generation Jones to identify the cohort. It was specifically inspired by the term jonesing, which is an offshoot of “Keeping up with the Joneses.” It essentially means craving or yearning and ultimately honors the desires of people born in the late 1950s and early 1960s who craved a better qualify of life. After all, they came of age and entered adulthood during the mass unemployment of the 1970s and 80s.
In short, Gen-Jonesers jonesed for a better life. They longed for the prosperous days of freedom their elder siblings enjoyed; days before the collapse of American industries.
Eventually, Pontell was featured in a number of news interviews. He also reportedly wrote a book called Generation Jones. In 1999, several newspapers reported that it was being published by Vanguard Press, however, I can’t locate a copy of it anywhere. In April 2014, the Anniston Star, an Alabama newspaper, again reported that Pontell wrote a book called Generation Jones that Random House was publishing. Again, I can’t locate a copy anywhere.
More on the Name
In 2013, Pontell gave an interview to an unknown blogger on the now-dormant site, Anali’s First Amendment. She asked him how he came up with the term and this is part of what he told her:
At a personal level, I never felt like I was part of the Baby Boom Generation, despite what the so-called experts said back then. I remember my social studies teacher quoting one of those experts to my high school class back in the 1970’s, and the class immediately bust out in laughter, because it was so obvious to us that we weren’t part of the Boomer Generation.
I didn’t give it much thought until many years later, when I heard that the “experts” had finally identified our post-Boomer generation, which they were calling Generation X. But when I looked into what they described as Xers, I quickly realized that they had, once again, ignored people my age, because we were no more Xers than we were Boomers.
It was at that point that I realized I was part of a lost generation of Americans, and decided that I would try to arrive at the key common denominators among people my age that made us a cohesive generation, to determine which birth years were the correct boundaries between our generation and the surrounding ones, and to come up with a name which encapsulated our generation…
The name “Generation Jones” came out of a long process which eventually generated around 650 possible names for our cohort…”
Here is an interesting news clip featuring Pontell in the Battle Creek Enquirer.
Found on Newspapers.com
What are the years for Generation Jones?
Pontell defined the years for Generations Jones as 1954 to 1964, although some contend the micro-generation doesn’t start until 1957. Most people agree that Gen Jones ends in 1964. The following year, 1965, marked a sharp decline in the U.S. birth rate, thus ushering in the Baby Bust. (By the way, early Gen-Xers were known as Baby Busters.)
How Important Is Generation Jones to the World?
Generation Jones represents a segment of the U.S. population that is greater than 42 million people. It is an important demographic in elections in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Key political figures born during the Gen Jones years include President Barack Obama (1961) and former Governor Alaska Sarah Palin (1964).
Historic Events, Pop Culture Icons
Several historic events helped to define Generation Jones in youth. They include:
- No Nukes March
- Iranian Hostage Crisis
In addition, here are just some of the pop culture icons most closely associated with Generation Jones. (There are many more I have not listed!) As someone born in the decidedly Gen-X year of 1967, I relate to very few of these icon as generational touchstones. The closer you get to the end of Generation X (1981), the more that is the case. I’m sure the same is true for Boomers, only in reverse.
- Family Affair, Buffy, Mrs. Beasley
- The Brady Bunch
- Josie and the Pussycats (Animated)
- Partridge Family
- Room 222
- Fat Albert
- Nanny and the Professor
- Brian’s Song
- Mary Poppins
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High
- Risky Business
- Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta
- Star Wars
- Flashdance, Jennifer Beall
- Love Story (Remember Jennifer “Jenny” Cavalleri?)
- Jackson Five
- Donny and Marie
- Sex Pistols
- David Cassidy
- Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven
- 8-Track Tapes
- Born To Run, Springsteen
- Banana Seat Choppers
- Walkmans, VCRs, CB Radios
- Space Invaders, Pong
- Pop Rocks
- Wacky Packs
- Leisure Suits
- Feathered Hair
- Mood Rings
Who is Generation Jones to you?
Are you part of this micro-generation? Share below and let me know. Also, check back soon as this article is still a work in progress and will be completed by January 2017.