• Stine Minna Bak Pedersen
  • Sussi Wiberg
  • Lauge Hedemand Bak
4. term, Learning and Innovative Change, Master (Master Programme)
This paper is the final thesis on the Master of Arts in Learning and Innovative Change at Aalborg University focussing on intergenerational meetings. In recent years we have seen an increased focus in the media on intergenerational meetings that are co-created across the public sector and the civil society. Furthermore, emphasis has been put on the increasing old age dependency ratio and that generations today live their lives more separate from each other. It is believed that in order to close the generation gap, society requires a high level of solidarity and cohesion between generations.
Previous studies show that intergenerational meetings benefit the senior citizens, but research focusing on the childrens perspective, does not seem to exist. The following paper sets out to investigate and analyse discourses about how intergenerational meetings between children and senior citizens are articulated from stakeholders and children who participate in the meetings. From a poststructuralistic perspective we believe that the way things are articulated has an impact on how we perceive reality, which is the foundation of our capabilities of acting and reacting in the world. Our aim is not to solve a given problem, but to present new ways of understanding intergenerational meetings and to disrupt what is taken for given. To observe the hegemonic and discourse processes of how selected stakeholder-positions articulate the intergenerational meetings, the discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantel Mouffe from their book Hegenomy and Socialist Strategy (1985) are applied. In the empirical construction we find central words in the empirical data and look at how they are given meaning. This is done by categorizing other signs in the texts that equivalent the central words.
We thereby get the opportunity to see which discursive representations that emerge and which conditions of possibility this leads to.
The empirical construction is based on selected tv-shows, texts about intergenerational meetings and interviews with children that we have conducted. The selection criteria is that the intergenerational meetings between senior citizens and children happens in an institutionalized context - mostly nursing homes and schools or nurseries. When we approach the empirical data with a poststructuralistic mindset, it implies that we are the constructors of the findings. Therefore, a constant reflection on our affecting impact is vital.
We find that intergenerational meetings between senior citizens and children are verbalized as an integration between differences. Children and senior citizens are displayed as groups of people with very specific and different characteristicas. Children bring joy and have a need to learn about life. The senior citizens bring tranquility and lifeexperience and can teach the children about life. This way of talking about them as two groups can result in stigmatisation and simplified understandings instead of seeing the individual.
If instead we focus on creating meetings based on similarities between different generations, besides the institutionalization, it might be possible to create a great cohesion in society without stigmatizing e.g. children and senior citizens. If instead intergenerational meetings are articulated as meetings between all generations it might be possible to avoid marginalisation and instead create cohesion between all stages of life. The intergenerational meeting is articulated as something that brings quality of life to senior citizens and children. The children talk about the meetings with the senior citizens in a style that brings connotations to being present and to the quality of life. At the same time they talk about the senior citizens as different from themselves and about their own behaviour around the senior citizens as abnormal, which is a sign of fracture with a normality. We find that intergenerational meetings are looked at as an opportunity for both children and senior citizens to contribute to society by contributing to the life of each other. These co-created intergenerational meetings are seen as a way of mobilizing resources to society and can be connected to the management paradigme New Public Governance. Our ambition is not to be normative. Instead we claim to bring new ways of looking at and approaching intergenerational meetings.
Publication date31 May 2020
Number of pages165
ID: 333332225