Title: Generation as a politics of representation

Authors: Karen R. Foster

Addresses: Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University, Rm. 3115, Marion McCain Building, 6135 University Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4R2, Canada

Abstract: This article engages with the idea that intergenerational conflict in the workplace constitutes a major challenge for managers and employers. But instead of adopting the dominant approach of defining generations on the basis of birth cohort and studying the differences between them, generation is examined here as a discourse and a 'politics of representation' (Hall, 2007; Mehan, 1997). Drawing on qualitative data from 52 interviews with older and younger workers, it explores how ordinary people construct generation through 'discourse strategies' - of calling young workers 'entitled', or older workers 'materialistic', for example - and considers the implications of this politics of representation for the organisation and critique of paid employment in the 21st century.

Keywords: generations; ageing; discourse; management; work; politics of representation; intergenerational conflict; workplace conflict; paid employment.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWI.2016.078642

International Journal of Work Innovation, 2016 Vol.1 No.4, pp.375 - 390

Accepted: 25 Sep 2015
Published online: 26 Aug 2016 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article