ⓘ Burnt Generation


ⓘ Burnt Generation

In Iran, the Burnt Generation is the generation born between 1966 and 1990, having experienced the 1979 revolution, Iran–Iraq War, and political or social consequences of these as children and young adults. This generation resonates with Generation X and Millennials in the Western world. They were born at a time when the middle class had the majority, higher education was extremely valued and hard work would promise a bright future.

The Burnt Generation shaped their future dreams based on their parents values and lifestyle. These values described success, convenience and social acceptance as simply achievable goals through hard work and right education. Their parents, a Baby Boomer–like generation, had rebuilt the country after World War II, established public education and women’s rights, nationalized the oil industry, and enhanced the public health system. Although there was a growing dissatisfaction with the government and Shah’s approach to a variety of political and social issues, the publics assumption was that those issues would be resolved through a democratic system.

After the Shahs exile in the 1979 revolution, the clash between various political groups and new government created a suspicious environment that deeply affected the beliefs and values of the Burnt Generation. They are marked by lack of optimism for the future, nihilism, cynicism, skepticism, political apathy, alienation and distrust in traditional values and institutions which describe the similarities between Gen X and the Burnt Generation.

Another important event that influenced this generation was the Cultural Revolution and the shutting down colleges and universities for several years. After reopening, every applicant had to pass an interview with the government-approved committees and women were only allowed to apply for certain limited majors. At that time, many of Burnt Generation, ranged between 13 and 25 years old, were fighting in the Iran–Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988 with a million casualties on both sides.

As a result of growing up in that environment, they either have strong religious beliefs or are completely distrustful of religion and God. Some believe in God but disconnect themselves from any religious beliefs or groups. Their most common values include loyalty to family and friends, compassion, and high work ethics. The uncertainties of their future, either for those who lived in Iran or elsewhere, leave a deep sense of insecurity in the Burnt Generation.