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Mannheim, K. (1970). The Problem of Generations. Psychoanal. Rev., 57(3):378-404.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Review, 57(3):378-404

The Problem of Generations

Karl Mannheim

Concrete Group—Social Location (Lagerung)

To obtain a clear idea of the basic structure of the phenomenon of generations, we must clarify the specific interrelations of the individuals comprising a single generation-unit.

The unity of a generation does not consist primarily in a social bond of the kind that leads to the formation of a concrete group, although it may sometimes happen that a feeling for the unity of a generation is consciously developed into a basis for the formation of concrete groups, as in the base of the modern German Youth Movement. But in this case, the groups are most often mere cliques, with the one distinguishing characteristic that group-formation is based upon the consciousness of belonging to one generation, rather than upon definite objectives.

Apart from such a particular case, however, it is possible in general to draw a distinction between generations as mere collective facts on the one hand, and concrete social groups on the other.

Organizations for specific purposes, the family, tribe, sect, are all examples of such concrete groups. Their common characteristic is that the individuals of which they are composed do actually in concrete form a group, whether the entity is based on vital, existential ties of “proximity” or on the conscious application of the rational will.

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