Sociological Workshop on Aesthetics, Meaning and Power (SWAMP)

Friday, February 15, 2019 12:30 PM to 1:45 PM
Nau 342

Peter Hart-Brinson (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)

Joint Workshop with TEMPO

Title:  Mannheim’s ‘The Problem of Generations’: An Update​


It has been ninety years since the publication of Mannheim’s “The Problem of Generations,” and
a persistent divide between empiricist and theoretical approaches to the study of generational
change is suggestive of the need to revise and update Mannheim’s formulation in ways that
render it suitable for contemporary social scientific analysis. This paper describes three
conceptual ambiguities inherent in Mannheim’s theory and proposes theoretical and conceptual
modifications that can facilitate multi-disciplinary research on generational change. Specifically,
it argues that Mannheim’s generational theory must be understood as a set of predictions about
how demographic, historical, and cultural forces interact to shape the habitus of global cohortnetworks,
and how those global cohort-networks in turn reshape society. It then argues that
generational change should be analyzed in terms of the four-interlinked mechanisms that are
required to produce it. It concludes by developing a catalog of historical triggers that can be used
heuristically to advance generational theory and research.