Re-thinking inter-generational inequality
This introduction attempts to pave the way for a renewal of the sociology of inter-generational inequality, through an examination of its emergence, contribution, and current limitations. The first part examines the emergence and development of
the concept of « generation » in sociology throughout the twentieth century. Before being seen through the prism of « inequalities », generation had been defined primarily as a motor for social and cultural change, seen in terms of « consciousness » in the work of Mannheim, and then « values » in the studies of the 1950s and 1960s. The second part takes the rise of inequality between
generations as its theme, driven by the great reversal of the 1970s that has lastingly affected the conditions under which young people enter the labour market. Beyond these growing difficulties in the economic field, younger generations seem excluded from the dominant positions and levers of social change, which feeds the discourse
around the existence of a « lost generation ». While stressing the importance of learning from this work, the third part explores its limitations and calls for the opening of new research fronts : to re-think the relationships between several generations in order to avoid the opposition between two generations, the first being
those of the baby-boomers, and the second those born in the 1960s ; to consider inter- and intra-generational inequalities in combination ; to relate social inequality and familial solidarity between generations ; to pose questions about a possible generational consciousness and its political outcomes. The introduction concludes with a presentation of the articles in the special issue, which contribute new evidence to the scientific discussion.
Keywords. GENERATION – INEQUALITY – YOUTH – CONFLICT – SOCIAL STRATIFICATION