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Generations and Life Crises

Life crises (de)mobilize biographic, as well as social and cultural resources. They can be a matter of social accomplishment (dismissal from work, retirement, dropping out of university) or existential situations (illness, death, separation with a loved one). Respectively the coping with life crises is a complex process, which presupposes (re)invention of certain social and cultural patterns of the effective, adequate and normal reaction to the change in the health, professional, social, etc. status.
What role does generation/belonging to a generation play in this process of (re)invention? Which developments of the concept of generation in the field of history and sociology could be working for the study of life crises? Which patterns of coping with life crises could be considered as predetermined by the generation?
In attempt to answer these questions, the present paper provides a historical and analytical perspective of the problem of generations, taking as a starting point the famous essay of Karl Mannheim and referring to biographical interviews and focus-groups with carers for disabled people. Three main cuts of the concept under review are widely discussed: the generation and the life stages, the generation and the transmission of culture, the generation and the social change. The latter are seen as productive paths to understanding/defining of generation as an intersection of biosocial and historical time and respectively as an effective tool for tracing not only the construction of social and cultural identities, but also their transformations and discontinuities.
Keywords: Generation, life crisis, life cycle, transmission of values, social change