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Journal Article

Is it a different world to when you were growing up? generational effects on social representations and child-rearing values


Publication date

01 Jun 2000


In this paper, I explore the way in which people view how the world has changed since they were growing up. This is done both quantitatively and qualitatively, using open-ended responses from the British Household Panel Survey. The theoretical perspective draws on Mannheim's insight that generational location predisposes individuals to characteristic modes of thought and experience and Moscovici's contention that generations may have distinctive social representations. The data largely support the generational hypothesis. The ten most frequent changes mentioned are unemployment, lack of safety, lack of discipline, increased pressure, moral decline, increased crime, drugs, environmental problems, and family breakdown. These social representations of how the world has changed are significant predictors of child-rearing values, especially for women. More generally, I argue that despite the broad consensus concerning the problems facing children born today, the social representations of men and women who grew up in different epochs exacerbate the value clash between generations

Published in

British Journal of Sociology


51(20): 355-376



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