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What is generational observing?

In this video, Virpi Timonen talks about generational observation.

Generational observing is when we look at the practices of younger and older generations and try to make sense of their behaviours and attitudes.

Based on these generational observations, we form ideas about what different generations are like, and how they differ from our own generation.

Generational observing becomes dynamic when it starts to influence our behaviours and expectations of individuals of a certain generation. Reflecting on our generational observations is important because sometimes the first reaction changes upon reflection.

Most people acknowledge that there is great diversity within generations, and that other considerations are also necessary to build a more complete picture of social processes.

For example, how could someone use generational intelligence to improve their relationships?

Share your thoughts on your generational observations and the questions posed by Virpi in the Comments below.

  • List one positive trait that you believe people in your generation have and one negative trait.
  • Think of a different generation, and do the same.
  • How accurate do you believe these generational observations to be?
  • What might make you change your mind about these perceptions?

Virpi Timonen is a Professor in Social Policy and Ageing at Trinity College Dublin.


Glossary

Generational observing is when we look at the practices of younger and older generations and try to make sense of their behaviours and attitudes.

Generational intelligence is the ability to reflect and act by understanding one’s own and others’ life-course, family and social history within the current social climate (Biggs, Haapala and Lowenstein, 2011).

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