Zeitgeist, Identity and Politics

The modern meaning of the concept of generation

Authored by: Semi Purhonen

The Routledge International Handbook on Narrative and Life History

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138784291
eBook ISBN: 9781315768199
Adobe ISBN: 9781317665717


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In literature on biography and life history, ‘generation’ has proved to be a crucial concept with which people construct life-historical narratives and imagine historical time (Bude, 2000). As a concept, ‘social’ generation provides means to situate private experiences, life events and memories in a wider socio-cultural frame. It can be used to link observations of micro and macro levels, to integrate between personal experiences and characterizations of entire historical periods. Generation, thus, literally answers to C. Wright Mill’s well-known call for filling the gap between biography and history, ‘the personal troubles of milieu and the public issues of social structure’ (Mills, 1959, p. 8), which he saw as a general task of sociology.

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