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Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials
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Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  592 ratings  ·  117 reviews
Named one of Fall 2017's most anticipated books by New York Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Nylon, and LitHub

Everyone knows "what's wrong with Millennials." Glenn Beck says we've been ruined by "participation trophies." Simon Sinek says we have low self-esteem. An Australian millionaire says Millennials could all afford homes if we'd just give up avocado toast. Thanks, mill
Hardcover, 261 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2017)
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A summary of the economic and social problems faced by the "Millennial" generational cohort, roughly born between 1980-2000.

The first two chapters summarize the "perfect storm" of high expectations and increasing costs endemic to the American high education system. Harris deals admirably with increasing tuition costs, the student loan crises, worsened by state governments cutting back funding to public schools. The discussion of overwork and increased rates of severe mental illness among second
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've never been one to blame millennials or make fun of them. I interact with a lot of them as an educator and I've been nothing but impressed. They're better than my generation. This book is a bleak look at what millennials have to deal with, but that's not why it's relevant. It's important because the book takes a macro look at the economic trends that have resulted in this generation. That and the excessive policing and drugging, but Harris claims that all of that stems from the exploitation ...more
David M
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Easily the most important book yet written on the subject. Any honest discussion of millennials ought to start here. In which we see ourselves as the inflection point of late capitalism, or western civilization in general. How will capitalism end? If we look to the daily habits and life prospects of the generation born since the onset on neoliberalism, we start to get an answer.

talkin' bout my generation...

Mom and Dad, I don't blame you. In retrospect, maybe seems unwise to procreate during th
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was ok

I enjoyed this book, but I'd have a hard time recommending it to anyone. I would describe it as a series of essays about how capitalism overworks you and makes you crazy, and how millennials, born into our dysfunctional capitalism-in-decline, are overworked and made crazy. Harris doesn't seem to be an expert in anything other than the on-the-ground experience of Occupy. If you want to actually dig into the dysfunctions of public schools or independent contractor wo
Jack Wolfe
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is so smart, so witty, and so fucking dead-on about everything that it could've only been written by a millennial. Here's what Harris proposes: how about we look at the Millennial generation the way corporations and governments have looked at them since the beginning-- as human capital to be relentlessly overworked, brainwashed into a hyper-competitive mentality, and underpaid. What he finds is so much more convincing and compelling that any stupid bullshit Atlantic thinkpiece about ho ...more
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bleak in both its conclusions and on the potential for escaping them, Kids These Days is still very much worth a read.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This book seeks to get behind the stereotypes about the millennial generation to explain on the basis of research what is actually going on within the generation and what is not going on - to deconstruct the popular hype about millennials. Some of the prior comments on the book suggested that the author provided a more fact based and rigorous approach to looking at generational issues. Since I have continuing contacts with millennials in both my personal and professional lives and have b even ex ...more
Audacia Ray
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Strong argument that IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S CAPITALISM.
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, education
Hyperenrichment of young people, the logic of human capital, 'affective labor', the feminization of labor, wage stagnation, job polarization, the explosive growth of (extractive) internships, the juvenalization of poverty, the precarity of the labor market. Essentially a pessimistic work, ending with 7 signs of the bad future.

• "Free time can always turn to productivity, so when productivity is properly managed, there is no such thing as free time."
• "The American public education is a rapidly r
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
HIGHLY recommend Malcolm Harris' KIDS THESE DAYS, a well-argued analysis of the social and economic trends that shaped Millennials as a generation. It's harrowing and depressing, but fantastically informative.
Goes without saying that I don't agree on every point, but I found it well-considered and fascinating. Great use of Marxist critique analyzing modern society to get me to think about some of my pre-held beliefs a little differently.
Camille McCarthy
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At first glance, this book did not seem like it would be too serious, although it did seem like it would address some of the complaints about the Millenial generation and show how material circumstances are shaping the character of the Millenial generation, we're not just a bunch of lazy and demanding people. The book surprised me in its depth, its militant writing, and in its devotion to using data and historical materialism to talk about our generation and compare it to others.
I already had
Genevieve Shanahan
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Super accessible, while also offering a pleasingly radical account of how neoliberalism has shaped the various features of The Millennial. It's certainly light enough to listen to as an audiobook, which I did. I might have missed some of the nuances and/or issues with the argument as a result, but the basic point is repeated via multiple examples throughout the book, so I reckon the core message is seared into my brain well enough to at least make me feel bad when I happily reproduce the pedagog ...more
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
An extensive overview of the social trends that have shaped the environment that American millennials have grown up in, and the behaviors that we have developed in response. Harris' weaving of "human capital" (where personal investments [like education, self-improvement, professional development] manifest in the workforce to be accessed by employers and capitalists) throughout the work is a compelling explanation for why millennials are inheriting an increasingly competitive and atomized worldvi ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a really interesting look at Millennials. The idea of Human Capital and the millennial generation being trained to work harder, longer and for less, is fascinating and relevant. This is not the normal "what's wrong with this generation who always looks at their phone?" but really analyzes what has made millennials the way they are, the strengths they bring to the future, the hurdles they will face.

The evaluation of youtube stars and the expectations of performers - human capital - was
Margit Wilke
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Most confrontational book I have read in a while. Very descriptive and informative but still extremely interesting. Would recommend to anybody around my age (20-30ish) but also basically to anyone who is curious about the future and how we fit into it (as a generation and as people in general). I don’t scare easily but this book did - it also made me laugh as well as cry as well as question what the fuck we are doing. A great read.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book a lot. It breaks down in clear language exactly how things are different for millennials than for previous generations, and what that's doing to us. I really recommend this to older readers who aren't familiar firsthand with, for example, the ways student loans have changed. In the end, Harris is unable to point to anything to be optimistic about (which is a bit frustrating) but it is clear there's only one way forward: full revolution.
Dave & Lindsay Gurak
Throughout the book, lots and lots of statistics that are often not covered or available across the media give context to a generation. At the same time, there is a narrative that leans negative or can portray a victimized generation. While I don’t agree with the portrayal, the book is worth the read
Tadas Talaikis
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
* Decreasing labor costs and more work for free.
* Deunionization.
* Non-dischargeability of private student loans.
* Microdoses of controlled substances to *work harder*.
* High access to internet.
* Decreasing religiosity.
* Etc.

=> U.S. is/ will have "bright" future.
Phil Overeem
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’d like to assign this book to every old fart I’ve ever heard deride Millennials as “entitled,” one thing they demonstrably aren’t. Harris’ book is engrossing and exceptionally well-researched and argued, with a conclusion that’s a few steps away from a great American dystopic novel.
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
One word: bleak.
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading on the cultural and political economy of the millennial generation: acerbic and often very funny, convincingly argued, and well-researched (though Harris's habit of introducing a new point and then citing one specific social scientist at length tends to grate after a few chapters). The bleak conclusion and afterword are particularly impressive.
Ryan Petrie
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book does a very good job defining the range of mindsets defining my generation and exploring the economic and social forces that shape us. The final chapter exploring the current economic trends continuing on into the future is chilling and eye-opening.
Neil Griffin
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Luckily, Malcom Harris is fairly hilarious, which makes this mostly depressing book go down easier. He shows how major changes in all of our important institutions have conspired to produce the millennial generation. For those expecting insights on avocado toast and selfies, this book probably isn't for you. It instead is a materialistic look at the economic and ideological drivers of the last 3 decades.

The last chapter especially is fantastic with Harris looking to what the future might look li
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, murica
I've heard Tim bring up these talking points so many times it almost read boring. Also, he doesn't write like Graeber! Not his fault, but it's like getting out of a steamy, jet pool hot tub and into a lukewarm still one. Still a hot tub.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: culture
This was one of the most disturbing books I have read in a while. Malcolm Harris describes the forces that have shaped his generation, The Millenials, in ways that are both compelling and disturbing. He sees that the forces of neoliberalism capitalism have extended well beyond the marketplace to child-rearing, schooling, relationships and a general sense of direction in life. He paints a picture of millennial childhood beginning as a series of planned activities to build human capital that will ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
Born 1985.

Malcolm Harris, it's not you, it's me. Well, maybe it's not entirely me and maybe it's some of you. Either way, I was clearly not the target audience for this book. I do not espouse the term "late capitalism", I did not stand with Occupy Wall Street, I did not vote for Bernie Sanders. Which means that a lot of your conclusions, I disagreed with. That's okay, but let's get a few things straight here that we can agree on:

1. Companies are not hiring women because executives can pay them
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2018
grim but vital. i actually gained a deeper understanding of myself as a millennial and of generational phenomena writ large.
Chris Jaffe
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: current-events
"Based on the trends as I read them, ...." (p.206)

This book alternates between being interesting an insightful and being frustrating and exhausting.

One key thing to notice before diving into the book is the title - in particular, the subheading of the title. This isn't really a book about millennials. They are mentioned a lot, but it's not about them. No, it's a book about the social forces shaping them. As Harris says at the outset, "What I'm attempting in this book is an analysis of the major
May 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
As a bona fide Millennial, I'm naturally inclined to absolve myself from the never-ending barrage of generalizations about my generation. We're lazy, we have funny diets, we're entitled brats, and so on. These are labels that are stickied on without any critical or historical analysis. There is always an underlying cause to behavior, there's a before to every after, and these stereotypes blatantly ignore this. So, yeah, I'm tired of it! Which is why I gravitated toward Kids These Days, a book th ...more
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“No one puts their whole self into their job like a Millennial who never learned to separate work and life enough to balance them, especially if they’re wired on uppers and get anxious when they’re too far away from their phone.” 1 likes
“Parents are treated like consumers, and “Think of the children” usually means “Think of your kid” and “Be afraid” and “Buy this or else.” Maybe that’s good advice for maximizing an individual kid’s chance at success in a winner-take-all market, but we can see what kind of society—and person—results.” 1 likes
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