Intergenerational relationships compendium

We are all enmeshed in intergenerational relationships. We are familiar with them. However, when we deal with these relationships in research, in teaching, in practical work or in politics we need generally intelligible key concepts. These are not meant to be definitive or dogmatic definitions, but explicit descriptions that acknowledge commonalities and differences between various disciplines and working fields. This is particularly important when texts are being used in different languages and are thus being translated. This is the point of departure of our project „Generationes“.

The publication of a small glossary in the Bulletin of the German Youth Institute (Deutsches Jugendinstitut) (Lüscher, Ludwig & Lange 2009—see below) marked the beginning. As researchers on intergenerational relations we work in different cultural contexts. We noticed subtle differences in the use of generational concepts in French and English compared with the original German version. This realization initiated an extended, coordinated and synchronized version in German, French and English published by the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2010 (Lüscher et al. 2010—see below). These differences motivated our interest in more conceptual work and in additional translations, which resulted in the current revisions as well as the Spanish and Italian versions.

A small international network was established to coordinate this work. In order to document its intercultural focus and its European origins we have chosen a name reminding us of Latin as historical common language of science: “Generationes”, complemented with the addition “International Network for the Study of Intergenerational Issues” (INSII). We consider it important to make our deliberations generally accessible and hope to encourage intercultural exchange about intergenerational issues this way. As the internet is the means of communication par excellence we decided to publish the present pentalingual version exclusively in electronic format on the internet. We thus open an international discussion platform. Furthermore, we do not only hope to reach users on other continents, we also hope to encourage translations and adaptations into other languages and cultural contexts.

A definitive characteristic of this publication is its layout. The texts in the various languages are synchronized according to the numbering of paragraphs, which eases direct comparison. A brief introduction outlines the academic perspective for this phase of collaboration. The intention is to develop it continuously.

The motivation for collaboration results from specific problems in translation to other languages. It shows that processes of translation and adaptation have a specific heuristic potential in that the diversity of cultures and languages are documented. The virtue of diversity is underestimated when focusing on a specific language. Therefore, a specific foreword for each language section is included.

This project has the potential to evolve in various ways. We therefore invite the users of this compendium to share their experiences with this “instrument” and to suggest improvements. Kurt Lüscher and Andreas Hoff have taken the lead for the period 2012–2015 and gratefully acknowledge the support of the Excellence Cluster 16 “Cultural Foundations of Integration” at the University of Konstanz, Germany.

How to use the Compendium
The text of the compendium is numbered by paragraphs.

For example:
2.09 The ‘generation concept’ serves the purpose of analyzing the identity-relevant interplay of actions and social relations with the affiliation to specific demographic cohorts, kinship relations, organizational membership or the experience of historical events. The focus is on thinking, feeling, wanting and acting, on life forms and life courses of individual as well as collective actors.