ERIC Number: ED194433
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Aug
Reference Count: 0
The Generation of Social Change: New Perspectives on Youth Movements in Modern History.
Starr, Jerold M.
This paper critically reviews sociological literature on youth protest. The major objective is to ascertain whether existing perspectives on youth movements are adequate to explain historical change in modern society. Most sociological research on youth activism is predicated on either a family socialization model or a structural functional model. Evaluation of findings from research based on these models indicated that they are inadequate to define the phenomenon of youth movements in the modern age. Particular reasons for this inadequacy include that the research tends to be either purely descriptive in character or more concerned with assigning blame or recommending social control strategies than with understanding the phenomenon in a larger context. This paper hypothesizes that Karl Mannheim's sociology of knowledge theory serves as a more valid approach to explaining youth movements because it is the only approach which is consistent with the macro-historical character of generational movements. In Mannheim's approach, a great deal of emphasis is placed on the mentality or spirit of any historical epoch and on the influence of the group on the individual. Because of this influence and because each new generation develops an ideological interpretation which is distinct from that of its elders, Mannheim's approach enables researchers to view youth protest more as an opportunity for young people to achieve greater awareness of themselves, their environment, and their political orientation than as a reaction against exclusion from social participation alongside older citizens. Further, data on the changing base of the youth movement, the spread of the counterculture, and the continuation of radical orientations among activists into adulthood tend to support Mannheim's approach over family socialization or structural functional approaches. (DB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Mannheim (Karl)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (New York, NY, August, 1980).