Gender and Generations: Continuity and Change: Volume 30

Cover of Gender and Generations: Continuity and Change

Table of contents

(11 chapters)


Pages i-xii
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This introduction discusses the ways the idea of generation has been used in scholarship, for the general public, and in marketing to define and discuss social trends and understand behavior. The need to apply an intersectional lens to the concept is stressed. The eight chapters in the volume, each of which applies such a lens, are summarized. The particular relevance of gender and generation to the current Covid-19 pandemic is highlighted by the introduction and the chapters. Topics include transmission of and changes in gender attitudes and beliefs, generational differences in LGBTQ experiences, retirement and caregiving.


The concept of patriarchy, one of the key thinking tools of the 1970s women’s movements, has been used and critiqued in many current and historical projects. This chapter enters the debate in an unorthodox way. Rather than define, defend, or critique the concept of patriarchy, it focuses on its capacity to articulate historically specific forms of relations between gender and generation.

The body of the chapter notes the continuities and differences in the way mastery and social infancy were connected in several episodes of thinking with patriarchy in Western social and political thought. Attempts to bring Roman law into a coherent system in early sixth-century ce, debates between defenders of absolutist rule and proponents of democracy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, nineteenth-century reconstructions of human pre-history and resurgent twentieth-century women’s movements have all left traces in ways of thinking about gender and generational relations today.

In the last two decades, new forms of activism and scholarship drew on the conceptual toolkit surrounding patriarchy. The last section of the chapter highlights two of these areas: research on child rights governance and the total social organization of labor, and writings on patrimonialism. Key insights from this work, the chapter concludes, can be used to argue that a focus on historically specific forms of the interface between gender and generation constitutes a useful aspect of thinking with patriarchy.


Using the case of women home-based workers in India and the aspirations they have for their children, this chapter argues that aspirations across generations can reveal constraints and conflicts of current social positions. As workers in the informal economy, women’s work experiences are shaped by a matrix of oppression shaped by gender, class, caste, and religion. Yet, resistance to this work only became apparent when discussing hopes for their children’s future. It was in these articulations of aspirations that women stressed the exploitative characteristics of their work and their wish for their children to avoid these same experiences.


Past literature has focused on the intergenerational transmission of gender ideologies, without considering the role cultural context plays. That is, while it is understood that there is a positive relationship between mothers’ gender ideology and that of their adolescents, how might this relationship differ among foreign-born mothers and their native-born adolescent children? This chapter extends the literature on the construction and transmission of gender ideology between immigrant mothers and their children in two ways. First, using data from the child sample of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (N=2,202), it examines adolescent gender ideology as influenced by mothers’ gender beliefs and nativity. Second, it assesses the interaction between maternal gender ideologies and nativity as they influence adolescent ideology. Findings from this study suggest that the nativity of the mother does not affect the adolescent’s ideology, nor does it act as a moderator of maternal influence. The chapter ends with a summary and contextualization of the findings framed in developmental psychology and suggesting that factors external to the household, such as the influence of peers, may work to mitigate the effects of cultural frameworks.


Research on gender attitudes has consistently found that younger generations have more gender egalitarian views than older generations. Less attention, however, has been directed toward examining whether the generation gap has grown or shrunk over time and whether it differs across dimensions of gender attitudes. Using data from the General Social Survey for years 1977–2018,the authors examine the generational gap in gender attitudes across three components: views toward women in leadership, working mothers, and the gendered division of family labor between public and private spheres. The results show that differences between generations vary significantly across these dimensions. Attitudes have converged over time in support for women’s leadership, yet Baby Boomers espouse slightly higher levels of support than other generations, including the younger Generation Xers and Millennials. In contrast, consistent generation gaps are observed in support for working mothers, where younger generations hold more supportive views than respective older generations. Attitudes toward the gendered division of public/private sphere labor have converged between Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers, with only Pre-Baby Boomers holding significantly more traditional views. Collectively, these trends highlight how cultural change through cohort replacement does not uniformly advance gender egalitarian ideologies. Instead, these shifts vary across specific dimensions of gender attitudes.


Using a life course perspective, this chapter examines four twentieth-century US generations and the influence of generation on women, especially related to education, work life, and retirement. The Baby Boomers constitute the largest of these birth cohorts to move into retirement. A literature review and illustrative examples of trends explore whether the substantial social and legal changes, with accompanying norms and values, that influenced Baby Boomers’ earlier lives continue to characterize their approach to retirement. Social, medical, and legal changes increased access to education, work life, and longer lifespans for many Boomer women. However, substantial socioeconomic and racial inequality must be addressed to expand access to a healthy, satisfying, and financially adequate retirement stage for men and women Boomers and following generations.


Perspectives on gender, gender expression, sexuality identity, and sexual orientation differ within and between generations given the great extent to which these concepts are embedded within social, cultural, and historical context. Across contexts, questions of authenticity are critical. This research compares generational perspectives about authenticity, gender and gender-related constructs, and sexuality. Through semi-structured interviews with a nonprobability, purposive sample of heterosexual and LGBTQ younger (aged 18–22) and older (aged 65+) adults, how a sense of authenticity is experienced and the degree to which individuals experience authenticity around sexual and gender identities are compared. Data were analyzed using the constant comparison method of analysis, and results indicate that while younger adult respondents held expansive terminology and knowledge related to sexual and gender identities, older adult participants lacked such fluidity, and that lack was an inhibiting factor in older adults being able to name and embody their authentic sexual selves. In conclusion, both position in one’s life course (age) and one’s generational cohort (historical, cultural, and social context) influence how individuals experience authenticity around gender and sexual identities.


While women remain the majority of caregivers, gender parity is reported among Millennials, people of color, and LGBTQ caregivers. Such dynamics of care dyads are rarely explored in relationship with caregiver selection, social support, or care outcomes, and without standardized measures we are uncertain whether this trend is associated with youth, demographic changes, or a societal shift. Utilizing the Caregiving in the US 2015 data set, this exploratory, quantitative study examines relationships between gender, primary condition, and two social designations around age (kinship generations and birth cohorts) to develop a preliminary categorization of informal caregivers in the United States by reviewing descriptives and correlations, then testing with multivariate regression. A model combining Millennial caregivers, same-generation dyads, and two primary conditions (mental illness and stroke) successfully predicts variance as to whether a dyad will comprise one woman caring for another woman, the most common dyad. Findings demonstrate the interconnectedness of caregiving generational models, suggesting that categorizing dyads from such variables is viable. This study deepens inquiry into intergenerational caregiving and makes a case for generationality and caregiving to be studied together.


The population is aging. The desire to remain in one’s own home through the aging process appears universal. Home health caregivers provide a vital role in allowing people to age in place. Women, and in particular immigrant women, have become the face of home health caregivers. Caregiving is generational. Paid caregiving is viewed as a natural extension of a skill set women have used most of their adult life. Home health caregivers view their work as a continuation of their roles in the family and they often frame their work as providing services that family members cannot, or will not perform. Reimbursement for these services is problematic. Assigning a monetary value to caregiving seems callous, and as a result caregivers are underpaid and undervalued. Global push–pull factors and the creation of a gray economy also contribute to a devaluation of these jobs. Caregivers themselves are poor advocates for better pay and working conditions because they believe it commodifies a kinship like experience. The future of caregiving is problematic. Poor countries will suffer greatly exporting their women; rich countries will need a tremendous number of caregivers to match their demographics and women will be overwhelmed providing care for others and themselves.


Pages 173-176
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Cover of Gender and Generations: Continuity and Change
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Advances in Gender Research
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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