Generations: what’s in the concept and how should it be used?


  • Dr Jennie Bristow

    Canterbury Christ Church University

  • Dr Helen Kingstone

    University of Surrey

Project summary

Everybody seems to be talking about generations, but what do they mean? Generation has both biological and social meanings and can be used to describe family relationships, peer groups and political and cultural identities. It is a concept central to wellbeing, in supporting relations of care, solidarity and socialisation, but it is also a potential source of conflict. Increasingly, generational differences are discussed in a divisive way which can be seen in the claim that there is a conflict of interests between older and younger people over social resources.

This project aims to develop a clearer understanding of the concept of generation and how it can be most constructively used in public policy to support the wellbeing of individuals and communities across the life course. We will pool knowledge from academics, charities and think-tanks working with the concept from birth to older age, co-producing recommendations for future research and policy.