Ageing and generational conflicts: a reply to Sarah Irwin.
In response to Sarah Irwin, the article develops a conflict model of inter-generational exchanges and treats generation as a neglected dimension of social stratification theory and research. Against Irwin's focus on individual attitudes from survey data towards intra-familial co-operation between generations, the article draws on public policy on dependency, legislation on retirement, superannuation and pensions, and stereotypes of the elderly to study inter-generational inequalities. Employing Pierre Bourdieu's distinction between cultural and economic capital, it considers the formation of generations around political events, shared culture and strategic advantage. Generational conflict is structurally organized around the tensions between early retirement, age-related competency, legislation on ageism, and youth unemployment. Given rapid and radical changes to the labour market, generational cohesion is an important dimension therefore of strategies of social closure.
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