Research

 

You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1600 titles.

Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
 

Books: Research

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The concept of generation has had a dynamic career in science and medicine. Initially used to describe procreation, by the late 18th century, it was replaced by reproduction. But although generation now primarily came to signify a collective of organisms born around the same time, its older meaning, linking procreation, genealogy and the environment of early development, remained. In this chapter I study its career between 1945 and the early 21st century, across medicine as well as social work, public health, psychiatry and molecular biology, to describe the reoccurrence of diseases, behaviours and social conditions within a family and a social or ethnic group. From the term problem family in the 1940s to the later rise of intergenerational cycle, and inter- and transgenerational inheritance or transmission, the need for a concept to capture the reoccurrence of the poorly delineated set of recurring phenomena of non-genetic origin remained. The most famous instance of the intergenerational transmission of trauma, the offspring of Holocaust survivors, provided a blueprint for other groups – especially Indigenous peoples in former European colonies – to explain, from the 1990s onwards, the ongoing consequences of the trauma of colonization.

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The conclusion reflects on key alignments and differences across the book’s chapters. Overall, this volume shares a frustration at the simplistic, reductive and conflict-inducing ways in which the generations concept has been used, including obscuring other significant social inequalities. Nonetheless, we feel that the concept has sufficient critical purchase and real explanatory power for understanding both the life-course and historical change, that it is worth rehabilitating, in order to nuance it and make it fit for purpose in further study. The chapter closes with a vision of future research in the field, which we hope will be led by the new BUP book series focusing on ‘Generations, Transitions and Social Change’.

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This chapter explores how the terms ‘generation’ and ‘Millennial’ have circulated in mediatized political and popular discourse from think tanks to amplified voices such as Mark Zuckerberg’s. The argument is twofold. One, the crisis created by the 2008 financial crash produced multiple locations for the identification of generational phenomena. Second, the concept of generation can be used to explain a sociological category as well as being an ideological tool or discursive formation. These points are argued using a conjunctural analysis from the Cultural Studies tradition as well as Karl Mannheim’s concept of ‘generation units’. The chapter focuses on the multiple generational discourses that circulated after 2008, including the Resolution Foundation’s reworking of the generational social contract, entrepreneurial ideologies located in digital cultures, as well as books that forge a contested generational identity which interrogates the Millennial as a social type.

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Book Abstract

This book introduces and explores the growing field of ‘generational studies’, by applying a generational lens to contemporary discussions across a range of disciplines where the generations concept is used: Sociology and Social Policy, Literature, History of Science, Psychology and Psychotherapy, Media Studies, Politics, Social Anthropology and Social Enterprise.

Part I, ‘The Generations Concept in Historical and Contemporary Perspective’, comprises four substantive chapters reviewing how the concept has developed and is used in the fields of sociology and social policy, literary and historical studies, media and politics, and history of science.

Part II, ‘Studies of the Generations Concept in Contemporary Life’, introduces new empirical studies from a range of disciplines, illustrating the breadth of generational studies as a sub-field and showing diverse ways in which a generational lens can be applied. This brings the book’s debates to life in a topical and applied dimension.

The volume shows why the generations concept, although over-used in today’s media, has real value and needs to be more widely understood. It gives a broad-ranging and cross-disciplinary view of the latest developments in research on generations, and it provides an accessible and contemporary introduction to the concept of generations for undergraduate and postgraduate students across a range of disciplines.

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What does contemporary literary writing about intergenerational relationships tell us about the importance of generational thinking for the regeneration of places and communities? What does this writing entail for third sector organizations and charities addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by an ageing society which are seeking an efficacious intergenerational practice? This chapter examines a recent popular novel, Libby Page’s The Lido (2018), which focuses on an intergenerational friendship and its benefits for both parties. Building on the author’s recent collaboration with organization ‘The Age of Creativity’, the chapter proposes that intergenerational opportunities to ‘feel’ social capital in dynamic relations should be embraced, and that fiction provides a rich vein of opportunity and guidance, especially where it is integrated into a ‘structure of feeling’ (Williams, 1963) that imagines and explores the complex workings of the concept of social capital.

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This chapter surveys the current state of engagement with ‘generations’ in the Humanities, particularly in literary and historical studies. It then examines the nature of generational affiliations and identities in the first century and a half of their emergence (c.1800–1945), and how they related to pre-existing genealogical models. The final section shows that these tensions between generation’s social and familial dimensions were well-recognized even back in the nineteenth century. This is illustrated through a case study of Margaret Oliphant’s novel Hester (1883), which depicts two successive generational moments when young women have to rise to the challenge to rescue their community, and also advocates for the value of intergenerational friendships.

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There has been a significant recent increase globally in interest in intergenerational engagement. Bringing young and old together has sparked the imagination of policymakers, teachers, health and social care professionals, architects and city planners, as well as housing providers alike. The central tenet that draws everyone together is described as the ‘magic’ that occurs when different generations come together.

This chapter will look at three popular models of intergenerational activity in four different parts of the world – the US, the UK, the Netherlands and Japan: (1) co-housing – where university-aged students live with older people who need light touch support (in the Netherlands), (2) an early years nursery co-located in an elderly residential care home (UK) and (3) intergenerational programmes that bring older adults together with school-aged children (programmes in Japan as compared to Experience Corps in the US). Here, the examples used will explore how notions of generational identity are sometimes affirmed by intergenerational engagement and are also often contested. Importantly, it will ask: do we gain a different understanding of generational identity and its functions when we view it through the lens of intergenerational programming?

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Generations are increasingly central to public discussions about future policy and social relationships, but the term is often deployed in narrow or confused ways. This can fuel division between age groups rather than producing shared understanding or solidarity. Imprecise use of the concept also deflects attention from other pressing areas of societal tension. This introduction outlines the complexities of the ‘generations’ concept, highlights some of the pitfalls involved in contemporary usage and understanding of the term, and identifies how to move past those pitfalls to produce a more precise and nuanced deployment of the generations concept in future. We discuss the evolution of the interdisciplinary generations network, and how this has informed the book. We conclude by outlining for the reader the book’s structure.

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Employing psychosocial and psychotherapeutic perspectives, this chapter explores via theory and case studies the extent to which it is possible to talk about generational memory both within the self and within society. Building on the idea of a self that can be more or less informed by multigenerational memory, links are made to the social processes of remembering and forgetting. The complicating roles of trauma and secrets are discussed in relation to breaks in social memory. The chapter concludes by discussing both how the future can haunt the present and how victim persecutor dynamics can complicate and block the processes of remembering that are essential for conflict resolution. The dangers of the interactions between fragile selves and fragile societies are discussed as are ways of strengthening social memory and improving and promoting intergenerational mentalization. The chapter concludes by discussing how memory and identity emerge between and across the generations and can become resources for social problem-solving and action.

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The chapter draws on data collected in England concerning in/equalities experienced across the course of their lives by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex plus other marginalized gender and sexual diverse (LGBTQI+) people. It demonstrates how attempts to make sense of interview narratives through a generational lens, was aided by Queer Theory, an approach in the humanities and social sciences that radically decentres and denaturalizes identity and the subject. The chapter considers how Queer Theory was used to think generationally about LGBTQI+ lives and to ‘queer’ or trouble the very idea of generations. In so doing, the chapter builds on some limited scholarship on the notion of ‘queer generations’ and whether generations and generational differences, exchanges and relationships across the life course can be applied to LGBTQI+ people. The chapter argues that LGBTQI+ people’s lives inherently queer linear, normative and reproductive notions of generations and thereby represent a challenge and important critique within generational scholarship.

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