FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
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Antropologicheskij forum, 2015, no. 25

 

PRACTISES OF EVERYDAY INTERGENERATIONAL INTERACTION THROUGH THE EYES OF THE STUDENTS OF A PROVINCIAL UNIVERSITY: An ETHNOGRAPHIC ESSAY

Anton Smol’kin

The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)
82 Vernadskogo Prospect, Moscow, Russia
anton.smolkin()gmail.com

Abstract: Problem: This paper focuses on causes of intergenerational conflicts in everyday life through the eyes of the students of a provincial university. Based on the results of involved observation and interviews (conducted in 2007–2010, N = 50), the author points out that some intergenerational contacts may be marked as potentially conflictual from the very beginning. It is common for young people to dislike being a traditional object of upbringing for elderly people, and to believe that many elderly people are prejudiced against youth. Negative expectations of youth and the elderly allow both of them to regard any ambiguous actions of the other side as potentially conflictual. This escalates the situation, and reduces practical opportunities to find a line of behaviour that could be considered neutral. The conflict can arise from the elderly’s side as a result of their common frustration or it can be a way of communicating, to get over their loneliness. Conflict can be also a way to diffuse tension or to translate their generational identity (the latter may explain one of the communication practises in public transport such as “unaddressed complains”). An important cause of conflict is specific verbal / communicative behaviour by the elderly, e.g. an aggressive anomic (post)soviet communication style (behaving as an “aggressive victim”), which makes it difficult to demonstrate many forms of solidarity. As a result, young people react in advance in such a way, that they re-form their attitude in order to minimise any contacts, but without violating the practise directly. Conclusions: The conflictual behaviour of the elderly can bring them some immediate pragmatic benefits, but fails strategically, because it destroys the potential for gaining the respect of others. The respectful actions stop being mechanical and grow to be associated with the situational contexts and with the object of hypothetical respect.

Keywords: intergenerational interaction, intergenerational conflict, attitudes toward aging, the elderly, youth.

To cite: Smol'kin A., 'Praktiki povsednevnykh mezhpokolencheskikh vzaimodeystviy glazami studentov provintsialnogo vuza: etnograficheskoe esse' [Practises of Everyday Intergenerational Interaction through the Eyes of the Students of a Provincial University: An Ethnographic Essay]Antropologicheskij forum, 2015, no. 25, pp. 91–117.

URL: http://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/025/smolkin.pdf