Contemporary twenty-something elites

Sanne van Oosten

2012 started with fascinating article in my favorite newspaper De Volkskrant. The article was about the current New Boys (and Girls!) Network of today’s twenty-somethings. The Old Boys Network is pretty much dead, but new elites in the Netherlands are arising rapidly and these are much more fragmented than the Old Boys of the past. The world we live in is rapidly changing and so are the New Boys Networks of today. There are great differences between this generation of twenty-somethings and the older generations. De Volkskrant went on to describe a number of elite networks in a hilarious and recognizable way.

The first network exemplified were the young politicians. Fanatically dedicated to the political party of their choice, they live for their political party, go from conferences to discussion nights. I know the type well from my days as an intern in the Dutch Parliament. Then you also have the gadget freaks. Loving their iPhone, Internet 2.0 and blogging. Young writers also form a network. They go from literature events to book presentations and often know each other from a number of high-class high-schools in Amsterdam. Green entrepreneurs want to start up an environmentally friendly business that should never be confused with a charity. It’s a profitable business, with a green twist, but never including a suit and tie. Actual Old Boys do still exist as well. They speak with a preppy accent, are a member of a preppy student association and their biggest hero is their father. Educated Fatimas are the children of uneducated Turkish and Moroccan immigrants who are rapidly climbing the social ladder. The group that doesn’t need to do much social climbing are the Shell-Kids. They had an international youth and intend to have an international career. Are quite America-oriented and wear American-style hoodies from their American-style university.

Even though the article in The Volkskrant was both fascinating and hilarious, a few other existing New Boys Networks were not mentioned. What about artists who all know each other from the art academy and go to each others gallery openings? Similarly, what about the acting scene of actors that go to each others plays and all know each other? Where were the clubbers that always switch from the place to be to the new place to be and are out to see and be seen? Even the Amsterdam gay-scene could be called a network of people who meet each other at COC meetings and read about each other on gay.nl.

One network mentioned in The Volkskrant article I haven’t mentioned yet. This is the network I believe myself to be in called; the I have an opinion, therefore I am network. Often part of specific clubs, such as BKB and Happy Chaos that organize campaigns or conferences on social themes. Even though I’m not a part of those specific clubs I do see myself as a part of this group. During my undergrad career in political science I organized many debates, conferences and parties with a political twist. Now I co-founded bloggerswithoutborders.com, I’m making having an opinion my regular job. Also they love to cite from newspapers, as I am doing right now as well. But my opinion is that networks are much more interconnected and that there is no such thing as an elite, therefore I am.

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