Generational consciousness and retirement communities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Time and collective historical experience loom large in the formation of generations. I argue that spatial proximity cements generational consciousness among seniors in Arizona retirement communities who identify themselves as members of the Second World War generation. The argument twins Karl Mannheim's social-historical conception of generations and Hannah Arendt's political philosophy which underscores the space of appearance in the public realm in identity formation. It is through congregating, interacting and conversing on a daily basis that seniors in retirement enclaves affirm and reaffirm who they are, both to themselves and outsiders. I draw upon a suite of Arizona case studies, 1988-2000, in revealing 'voices' for a slice of the Second World War generation. Discussions revolving around family, community and national life reveal beliefs and values coalescing around four themes: (1) splendid isolation; (2) dissolution of values; (3) absence of children; and (4) fraying the social compact. The space of appearance within retirement enclaves engenders a strong sense of collective identity and belonging in ageing and, simultaneously, leads to questions about implications and consequences of intergenerational separation. I conclude with a poignant multigenerational experience as suggestive of the potency of intergenerational contact and exchange.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-306
Number of pages14
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2007


  • Generational consciousness
  • Identity in ageing
  • Intergenerational separation and exchange
  • Public realm
  • Retirement communities
  • Social and cultural change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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