The conflict of generations is a constant social happening in the ongoing history of mankind. It has always been most readily evident in the family where youthful inexperience, vigor, and desire for experimentation conflict with the maturity, stability, and cynicism of the older generation. The preindustrial Western world developed social restraints and rituals to control the youth, while absorbing them into its established ways with a tolerable measure of generational friction. Social stratification and economic insecurity further limited the opportunities for social expression of youthful idealism. The industrial revolution, however, undermined traditional European social patterns and restraints; at the same time it hastened the emergence of a broad middle class. This combination of changing social structures with burgeoning bourgeois affluence broadened and accentuated the generation gap from the family into the larger society and transformed youthful idealism into modern political activism.


Postwar Period Social Expression Youth Organization Adult World Youth Movement 
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© Henry Cord Meyer 1973

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  • Henry Cord Meyer

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