@sociologicalimagination.org (emphasis added, as always):
[…] it speaks to the need to include ‘generation’ as a foundational category of sociological analysis, alongside race, class and gender. This is not a new idea. It was a cornerstone of Karl Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge, which could be used to explain, for example, why the very old and very young found Hitler an attractive leader, despite the consternation of the middle age population who flourished – however fitfully – under the Weimar Republic.
The basic intuition of generational analysis is that people at the same stage in their lives experience the same public events in similar ways. Of course, this is not meant as an overriding explanation of human behaviour, but it provides an orthogonal slice of the sociological pie from that offered by race, class and gender. The rise of ‘broadcast’ media from the mass circulation newspaper onward has generated a steady stream of such publicly experienced ‘events’ which serve as a common frame of reference in terms of which people’s judgements can be compared. The point is epitomized in the question: ‘Where were you when Kennedy was shot?’
Perhaps the most notable feature of the social media fallout from Brexit with regard to generational analysis has been the antagonism between ‘old’ and ‘young’: The former castigating the latter for shirking their civic duty of voting; the latter accusing the former of selfishness and narrow-mindedness. Whatever one makes of these charges, it points to a real problem that not everyone is equally invested in the outcomes of a democratic process. In the case of irreversible decisions, as Brexit is purported to be, the young who voted against it will live with its consequences much longer than their elders who supported it. What constitutes intergenerational justice under the circumstances?