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Karl Mannheim's Theory of Generations

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Susanna Obmann

on 1 July 2014

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Transcript of Karl Mannheim's Theory of Generations

Karl Mannheim
A theory written in Mannheim's essay:
This essay can be found in his book:
The Problem with Generations
Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge
Mannheim was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1893. He also lived in Germany and England.

Karl Mannheim is the founder of what is now known as the
sociology of knowledge

Mannheim agreed with some Marxist thought.
Particularly the idea that a person's beliefs
can be shaped depending on the type of group that person belongs to.

Mannheim put forward the notion that all
“truths” and ideas are related to and
influenced by the social context from which
they stem.
Theory of Generations
Baby Boomers
Gen Z
Karl Mannheim's
Theory of Generations
Theory of Generations
According to Mannheim, older generations form the social context which a new generation makes “fresh contact” with.

When this occurs, the new generation slightly alters the social context by selecting or emphasising particular aspects of it.

As such, each new generation provides opportunities for social and cultural continuity and change.
Mannheim identifies late adolescence as a key period for the formation of social and political outlooks. If a major event occurs in the lives of a group of people at around the same period of late adolescence, they are very likely to acquire a collective consciousness.
That means that this generation are grouped together based on their experience of a major event which has had an impact on their thoughts and feelings.
Thus, the cohort forms a specific social identity that is a result of a common experience. This is turn, influences the identity of the individual.
(Social constructs)
Generation, a definition
Mannheim’s Theory of Generations understood a generation to be a cohort of a population who have experienced similar events (particularly noteworthy events) in their youth, during a distinct period of time.
This is because their understandings of new experiences are shaped by their previous experiences.
As a result, Mannheim’s theory recognises the implication that events have on individuals within a specific context. Socio-historical events group cohorts of people who are of similar age in the same context together.
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