Thinking generations


  • I thank audiences at the London School of Economics, Copenhagen, Cardiff and Cork for their useful input on earlier drafts, Lea Ypi for a valuable close reading, and the Journal's referees for some excellent comments.

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Often, and increasingly, social and political life is narrated using the concept of generation. This article looks at contemporary expressions of ‘generationalism’ in British public life. It identifies the salient themes which emerge, links these to the social and political contexts in which these ideas are produced, and examines the points where they are vulnerable to critique. Bridging science and normativity, the generational view offers a convenient master-narrative for a variety of political orientations – yet one whose democratic credentials are doubtful.