Generational conflict has become a significant issue in Britain in recent years. The Baby Boomers, in particular, stand accused of monopolising society’s resources and leaving younger generations bereft. This claim has had a widespread purchase, both across the political spectrum and across generations.

However, there are a number of questions about how and why this particular generation has come to be framed as a social problem. These include:

  • policy debates about the allocation of social resources, such as pensions and healthcare
  • concerns about the role of the family, and the relationship between adults and children in wider society
  • the relationship between demographic trends and social events
  • ageing and the role of the elderly
  • questions to do with knowledge and time.

The problem of generations is an interdisciplinary field, engaging contributions from sociology, anthropology, gerontology, history, psychology, economics, social policy and politics, among others. Our aim over the forthcoming period is to engage with the wider issues surrounding generational contact and conflict, in relation to education, families, and communities.

Jennie Bristow and Helen Kingstone coordinate an interdisciplinary network of academics and third sector organisations working with the concept of generation. A book based on this work, Studying Generations: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, was published by Bristol University Press in 2024, and is available Open Access. See here for details about the book, and here for more about the Generations network.

Elisabetta Ruspini and Jennie Bristow are editors of the Bristol University Press book series Generations, Transitions and Social Change.

To read more by Jennie Bristow on generations, visit her webpage

More about the work of the generations network: