Traditionalist Generation: Definition & Characteristics

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chris Clause
In this lesson, you will learn to define the term 'traditionalist', as well as learn about a few key characteristics that distinguish this group from other generations. Following this lesson, you can test your knowledge with a quiz.

What Is the Traditionalist Generation?

Strictly defined, traditionalists are people who were born before the year 1945. They comprise the oldest generation in American culture, and like all generations, possess their own unique qualities which distinguish them from the generations which came after them. Much like individual people, generations tend to possess their own unique characteristics which separate them from the generations both immediately before and after them. Now of course, not all people born before 1945 are alike in every way, but similar trends in behavior and values do seem to exist.

You should also be aware that when you hear the term 'traditionalist', the reference is to people born before 1945 in American culture. Environmental and social influences are primarily responsible for shaping generations, so naturally these experiences vary greatly from one culture to the next. While classifying people into generations requires a lot of generalization, it is a helpful way to understand the trends that exist between groups of people who are approximately the same age.


Now that we have defined the term 'traditionalist', let's take a look at a few of the key characteristics which define this generation:

Members of the traditionalist generation tend to have a practical outlook on life and the way they approach the world in general. Many members of this generation lived through some challenging times, such as World Wars I and II, as well as the Great Depression. Survival became a theme during many of their formative years. Persevering by making the most of what resources were available became an important approach to life and shapes many of their lives still today.

Many people born before 1945 experienced the rise of the United States as a world power. Hard work and commitment were important factors in that process. For these reasons, many traditionalists have held on to these values, and not surprisingly, brought them along into the workforce. In general, traditionalists tend to be dedicated and dutiful employees.

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