Generation Unit Definition

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Generational Analysis Through 1985 The rapid social change of the 1960s appears to have inspired scholars to take up research on generational politics and generational analysis was a thriving area of research in the 1960s and 1970s. Mannheim’s essay and Eisenstadt’s (2003) structural-functionalist approach to youth rebellion and generational change provided scholars with fertile theoretical grounds on which to base empirical studies of the youth counterculture and social movements of the time. Reviews of the literature from that period (Bengtson, Furlong and Laufer, 1974; Braungart and Braungart, 1986) demonstrate significant advances in theorizing the relationships among cohorts, aging, politics, and social change, but also pointed out persistent…show more content…
Even the generation unit concept appeared to fit comfortably in the burgeoning field of social movement research. When David I. Kertzer, in an important (1983) review essay on the generation concept, reiterated Ryder’s (1965) argument that the term generation should be restricted to a narrow meaning of kinship descent (parent-child relations), the critique appears to have stuck. Kertzer argued that the flurry of social science research on generations from roughly 1970 to 1982 suffered because the term was used in four different, but related, ways, signifying “the principle of kinship descent”, differences among cohorts, stages in the life-course, and the influence of unique historical periods. In Kertzer’s view, the conceptual confusion was an impediment, both theoretically and methodologically, to further scholarly understanding of generational processes broadly defined. Importantly, in arguing that the meaning of generation should be restricted, he insisted that the distinction is merely terminological, required for greater analytical precision, and that it should in no way be viewed as a limit on sociological inquiry. Evidently inspired by Ryder’s (1965) eloquent functionalist metaphor, Kertzer writes, “Generational processes will remain of great importance to sociology, for they are at the heart of the social metabolism. What is crucial to the future of such study, though, is that the generational processes be firmly placed in specific historical contexts—i.e. that they be analyzed in conjunction with the concepts of cohort, age, and historical

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