Baby Boomers and the Lost Generation: On the discursive construction of generations at work

Pritchard, Katrina and Whiting, Rebecca (2014). Baby Boomers and the Lost Generation: On the discursive construction of generations at work. Organization Studies, 35(11) pp. 1605–1636.


Generations, and generational categories, offer a means of organising our understandings of age and age-related issues. Particularly within practitioner-orientated debates, differences between generations are highlighted as creating tensions which organisations must address. In contrast, we offer a critical interrogation of generations and unpack the implications of particular constructions. Specifically we examine the discursive construction of generational issues in UK online news about age at work, focusing on baby boomers and the lost generation. We highlight the discursive work involved in constructing each generation as entitled to work and how responsibility for employment issues is variously positioned. These inter-related concerns develop into a debate about consequences, as different versions of the future are constructed. In contrast to essentialised understandings, our study shows how generations and generational categories are constructed and organise understandings of age at work. We further highlight how the constructions of generational differences and tensions become enrolled and legitimate age-related differences with regard to work. Such insights are essential to further our understandings of age-related issues in contemporary organising.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 40789
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1741-3044
  • Project Funding Details
  • Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
    Age At WorkGrant Ref: 1103Richard Benjamin Trust
  • Extra Information
  • Journal Special Issue: ‘At a Critical Age: The Social and Political Organization of Age and Ageing’
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
    Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2014 The Authors
  • Related URLs
  • Depositing User
  • Katrina Pritchard