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Broadband Society and Generational Changes

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Fausto Colombo and Leopoldina Fortunati

The role generations play in accepting and shaping digital technologies, and possibly vice versa, is an increasingly relevant issue in contemporary society. For the first time in the academic debate, this volume outlines the theoretical issues and explores some results from empirical researches on the relationship between generations and the media in digital society. The first part of the book deals with the theoretical debate on generations, from Mannheim’s to the revisiting of some classical notions shaped by disciplines as history, demography, marketing and sociology. The second part gathers a selection of researches at international level, with particular attention to the European context. Though each research used specific methodologies, the main approaches focused on media domestication by young and old generations, and on the comparative analyses of different generations in adopting media.

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Part 1: Generational Changes -17

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First Part: Generational Changes 19 Fausto Colombo The Long Wave of Generations 1 A Topical Issue The generational issue is today highly topical. It is under debate, for instance, when talking about changes to the traditional welfare system, especially regarding the need to create a balance between older people, who are guaranteed, and younger who are not; or when talking about the renewal of the political class, in particular after the election of the new President of the United States, Barack Obama, as a member of a new round of statesmen outside the traditional – or old – establishment. The generational issue is again discussed to shed light on the problem of education, in an attempt to highlight difficulties in today’s relationships between parents and children and between educators and students which can be traced back to their generational membership. The issue is again pivotal when dealing with the literature in which the sons of the great 1968 contesting generation reread accounts of their childhood experiences from a new perspective framed in the history and ideologies of the time1. The genera- tional issue can be seen to be called into debate in public opinion and particu- larly in scientific thinking. If we start by attending to the specific subject this volume deals with, we realise how common definitions of the most recent generations are often influenced by digital technologies as key elements of communication: the "Internet Generation", the "Nintendo Generation",the "Avatar Generation", to name a few, and perhaps very importantly, "Digital...

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