Does Differential Cohort Socialization Matter? The “Age Invariance” Hypothesis and Political Socialization



In classical and contemporary social theory alike, the key to understanding how cultural change comes about has been thought to lie in the long-term effect of differential cohort socialization. Cultural change is thought to proceed as differently socialized cohorts replace each other in the course of time. Moreover, distinct generations have been claimed to emerge. Thisarticle addresses the impact of cohort replacement and the presence of generations, including discussions of the theoretical framework underlying these concepts and the problem of disentangling age, period, and cohort effects. Analyses of Dutch survey data substantiate that cohort membership matters. Yet the impact of cohort replacement on cultural change turns out to be limited, and little evidence is found in support of the idea that specific generations arediscernible.