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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

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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,005 ratings  ·  185 reviews
"The first major accounting of the millennial generation written by someone who belongs to it." -- Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker

"The best, most comprehensive work of social and economic analysis about our benighted generation." --Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens

"The kind of brilliantly simple idea that instantly clarifies an entire area of culture."--Will
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Kindle Edition, 273 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2017)
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3.85  · 
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 ·  1,005 ratings  ·  185 reviews


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Hadrian
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
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Mehrsa
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jacob
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
https://i.imgur.com/EWsNP3g.png

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
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Marks54
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 life and have even been ...more
Audacia Ray
Strong argument that IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S CAPITALISM.
Jack Wolfe
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Corey
Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A passionate polemic that sheds light on the ways in which our society has evolved to make every aspect of the lives of our children geared towards forming them into better workers. The increasing structure of their so-called "leisure time," the ubiquity of social media, and increasingly rigid academic curricula are all, Harris argues, in the service of making children into "human capital."

Though much of Harris' analysis is convincing, there's a theoretical problem at the heart of the book. Har
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Joe
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bleak in both its conclusions and on the potential for escaping them, Kids These Days is still very much worth a read.
Bill
Dec 28, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Lena
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
If you want to feel depressed about the state of affairs that have ground you down into the dust but also like hey at least you’re not alone in your misery and also soothe that part of you that feels like each point of pain in your life is 100% your fault and your fault alone, then boy have I got a book for you!
Jess
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this after that Millennial Burnout article made the rounds in early January and referenced this book. Hooboy what a read. It’s not entirely depressing but it’s also not hopeful either. It’s more of a “hey guess what, we we’re screwed before we even started playing and here’s how.”
It debunks a lot of what the media tries to tell Millennials we are, and explains why the media tries to tell us that.
It explains why we’re all stressed, anxious, depressed and still striving for this ambiguous
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Camille McCarthy
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
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Shima
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Margit Wilke
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Muffin
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Phil Overeem
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nick Jones
"MALCOLM HARRIS is a communist".

That's in quotes because it's literally how the first sentence of the About the Author blurb at the back of the book begins. I don't think it was supposed to be, because going two blank pages past it gets you to the inner flap of the dust jacket, where the entirety of the three sentence blurb is repeated identically except "a communist" is replaced with "a freelance writer".

I had a good, long laugh at that. I'm dying to know if somebody at Little, Brown and Comp
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Andrea
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a thorough and engaging look at the economic and societal trends that have shaped today's young adults, and it is bleak but fascinating. The main theme is the shift from seeing kids and people more broadly as human beings to seeing them as "human capital", that is, a resource to be refined, managed, and spent, and he looks at this topic through several lenses including schooling, mental health, business trends, and more. There is a lot of information in here, a lot of which I already kne ...more
Phillip
This book is definitely a popular assessment (i.e., not scholarly/peer-reviewed) of the overall network of conditions, trends, forces, etc. that have shaped the millenial mindset. And I think Harris is right about most of what he identifies. The key elements of millenial psychology actually have fairly little to do with us, they have much more to do with the dense networks of competition, isolation, pressure, and anxiety that have been imposed upon us by the increasing divestment of state social ...more
Karen Slora
Boring and style were so dry it put me to sleep at bedtime. However, its analysis of how the millennials are not a happy-go-lucky generation is very provocative. Playtime has become work in their growing years. There is little free time, activities are over-scheduled, helicopter parents keep their ambition on track, and the focus is on getting ahead in the work force. They are burdened with school debt, unpaid work experiences called “internships “ (to the employer’s benefit), the blurring of wo ...more
Jesse Summers
The book claims and illustrates how stressful it has been to grow up as a millennial, which is in fact compatible with the stereotype that millennials have grown up coddled and unable to deal with stress. In fact, I suspect the stereotype and the book’s position are both true and that they’re related.

But the book is flat out wrong on some major points, and the evidence is sometimes misguided and sometimes presented deceptively. Once I caught this a couple of times, the book stopped sounding lik
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Genevieve Shanahan
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
William
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Zach
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book about where our generation came from and the fight ahead.

Also, the point about affective labor being harder to automate and how that coincides with sharp increases in women in the labor market sort of blew my mind, I guess I've heard all those arguments before individually but putting them all together like that was striking. Important for the labor movement and the Left to understand.

The overall "human capital" framing of the book gave me a surprising amount to think about as wel
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Kristiana
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Violet
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
One word: bleak.
Dan
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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.” 2 likes
“Under this framework, it’s a kid’s job to stay eligible for the labor market (not in jail, not insane, and not dead—which is more work for some than others), and any work product beyond that adds to their résumé. If more human capital automatically led to a higher standard of living, this model could be the foundation for an American meritocracy. But Millennials’ extra work hasn’t earned them the promised higher standard of living. By every metric, this generation is the most educated in American history, yet Millennials are worse off economically than their parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. Every authority from moms to presidents told Millennials to accumulate as much human capital as we could, and we did, but the market hasn’t held up its side of the bargain.” 2 likes
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