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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 16, Issue 2, Fall 2002

Messay Kebede
Pages 223-248

Generational Imbalance and Disruptive Change

According to most scholars, what defines modernity is the prevalence of change and mobility in all aspects of life, as opposed to traditionality in which immobility of beliefs and statuses is said to be the dominant trait. One major implication of this definition is the conclusion that the occurrence of modernity involves generational conflicts on the grounds that older people are less open to innovation and change. This paradigm of modernity has led to the exclusion of elders from political life in Third World countries, especially in those countries that opted for a revolutionary course. In light of traditional views of old age and recent gerontological findings, this paper examines the validity of the assumption according to which younger leadership is best equipped to achieve modernity in developing countries. It finds out that both factual and theoretical considerations underline that integration as much as deviation defines positive change and that the failure of generational interaction results in detrimental outcomes.

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