On SAGE Insight: ‘Baby Boomers’ versus the ‘Millennials’: Inter-generational housing inequalities

Article title: Inter-generational housing inequalities: ‘Baby Boomers’ versus the ‘Millennials’

From Urban Studies

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In contrast to the post-war period, the late 20th and early 21st centuries in the UK have been characterised by the advancement of neoliberal policies including privatisation of the housing system and employment casualization. . Consequently, there are growing socioeconomic inequalities between those born in the post-war period – the ‘Baby Boomers’ – and the younger generation – the ‘Millennials’. Such inequalities have led to narratives of inter-generational conflict with Baby Boomers framed as jeopardising the futures of Millennials. Socioeconomic disparities between Baby Boomers and younger Millennials have further been detailed by a range of academics, policymakers and political commentators. Using the conflict narrative as a starting point, this paper argues that while inter-generational inequalities certainly exist, and one is right to be concerned about them, it is likewise important to approach this issue in a nuanced manner. The aim of this paper is to unpack what people say and how they feel about inter-generational inequalities

Drawing on Mannheim’s theory of social generations, the concept of generational habitus and qualitative data from some Baby Boomers and Millennials, this article unpack the ways in which inter-generational inequalities are intersubjectively understood and discussed, therefore narratives of inter-generational conflict misleadingly direct blame towards the agency of Baby Boomers rather than political structures. Blaming the Baby Boomers diverts attention away from scrutinising governments and neoliberal agendas which have led to the various policies and structural changes that have influenced the actions of the Baby Boomers, and created the precarious conditions experienced by the Millennials

Abstract

In contrast to the post-war period, the late 20th and early 21st centuries in the UK have been characterised by the advancement of neoliberal policies including privatisation of the housing system and employment casualisation. Consequently, there are growing socioeconomic inequalities between those born in the post-war period – the ‘Baby Boomers’ – and the younger generation – the ‘Millennials’. Such inequalities have led to narratives of inter-generational conflict with Baby Boomers framed as jeopardising the futures of Millennials. Drawing on Mannheim’s theory of social generations, the concept of generational habitus and qualitative data from 49 Baby Boomers and Millennials, we unpack the ways in which inter-generational inequalities are intersubjectively understood and discussed. Our data indicate that while young people are aware of inter-generational inequalities, they do not feel resentful towards their parents’ generation for profiting at their expense. Instead, many blame the government for not representing their interests. Thus, narratives of inter-generational conflict misleadingly direct blame towards the agency of Baby Boomers rather than political structures.

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Article details
Inter-generational housing inequalities: ‘Baby Boomers’ versus the ‘Millennials’
Jennifer Hoolachan, Kim McKee
First Published July 3, 2018 Research Article 
DOI: 10.1177/0042098018775363
Urban Studies


     
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