Generations, Culture and Society

Generations, Culture and Society

Generations, Culture and Society

Generations, Culture and Society

Synopsis

"...the most important statement since Mannheim's classic work. It establishes a traumatic events theory of generations, and elaborates a model of generational conflict... All this is demonstrated through illuminating analyses... For Edmunds and Turner, generations rather than classes have shaped much of the 20th century and beyond." - Professor Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania"...clearly establishes the relevance of generations as a key sociological concept for understanding cultural change today...an excellent book that offers students and academics a lively and up-to-date text on the role and significance of generations, with comprehensive coverage of social scientific debates." - Gerard Delanty, Professor of Sociology, University of Liverpool• What is the role of generations in social, cultural and political change?• How is generational consciousness formed?• What is the significance of inter and intra-generational conflict and continuity?Despite the importance of the concept of generations in common sense or lay understanding of cultural change, the study of generations has not played a large part in the development of sociological theory. However, recent social developments, combined with the erosion of a strong class theory, mean that generations need to be reconsidered in relation to cultural change and politics. Moving beyond Karl Mannheim's classical contribution to generations, this book offers a theoretically innovative way of examining the role of generational consciousness in social, cultural and political change through a range of empirical illustrations. On the grounds that existing research on generations has neglected international generational divisions, the book also looks at the interactions between generations and other social categories, including gender and ethnicity, exploring both intra-generational conflict and continuity and considering the circumstances under which generational consciousness may become more salient. The result is a key text for undergraduate courses in social theory, cultural studies and social history, and an essential reference for researchers across these areas, as well as gender, race and ethnicity.

Excerpt

On 11 September 2001 terrorists hijacked several American passenger aircraft and crashed two of them through the World Trade Center in Manhattan, killing thousands of civilians. The graphic images that filled the TV screens of the world were a terrible testimony to the globalization of the modern world. This date marks the creation of a new global generation, one that was shaped by the collapse of the towers in New York. Regardless of the very different interpretations and political sympathies of the people across the world who witnessed these events, their horrendous effects began to shape the consciousness of a new global generation. We might, for the sake of argument, call the generation that has been produced by these events the September generation.

An important part of our argument is that in the past traumatic events have produced distinct generations. Generations and their role in social change are best conceptualized retrospectively. It is easier to unravel the formation and impact of a past generation than to point to one in its formation. It is with hindsight that historians or sociologists can see the full force of a generation such as the 1960s generation. However, if we accept the premise that traumatic events such as warfare have been fundamentally . . .

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