Outset of the Investigation
Having entered the domain of sociological research I have often found myself asking why it is that the progressive generation of today of which I am part still lack in empathy towards the older generation, typically those in their sixties and after. The fast-paced growth of technology had made many so self-centred that they cannot pause to think of others, and become all out cyber prospectors. I have talked to many of my friends and many of them seem to shrug off the problem of the elderly. The genera mindset is that these lives are redundant on earth and have nothing worthwhile to offer modern life. They are of an age that cannot appreciate the jazzy lifestyle of the youth with its accent on self-will and thorough abandon. But I strongly feel those who lose out on charity lose out on life too. Values being quite lost does not make a carefree life any richer. I gave my peer group feelers with regard to this and arranged for a few of us, variously constituted racially, to undertake to visit an old age home to study the incidence of geriatric depression. I hoped that the young group would mingle with the aged and sense their plight and resolve to be more considerate and constructive in their attitude to make a dent on this problem of the relegation of the elderly. We set out for a seaside geriatric home in Boston and talked to the aged, many of whom were too languid from neglect even to respond to our queries. Then I decided to draft a workable plan of rating youth attitudes on a regional basis, hoping to evolve results from a correlation of (1) gender and attitude to the aged and (2) culture and subject position and attitude to the aged.
Plan of Action
Generation gap is always an issue that never ceases to be talked about in spite of the growing familiarity among the different generations. Still, this is seen to depend on several variables including country and community. In a class of mixed nationalities this test of getting feedback on generation gap is worth carrying out. One group of students are from the US, another from Europe, still another from India and the last from the Far-East. How do these students respond to the notion of generation gap given their different cultural and economic backgrounds? Sociological research conducted points to the impact of modernization on the changing value system, as suggested by S. K. Patil (2014, www.ijird.com ).We have formulated a set of questions to be passed around to each group informally and their feedback taken. They are as follows:
Why do people take their older kin to geriatric homes rather than put them up with them?
Is it desirable for parents to support their studying children till they become mature adults?
Do you think there is any scope for arranged marriages in the eastern countries in the changing world?
What is your attitude to live-in marriages?
What the Talks Reveal: Results
The evaluation of generation gap as an international subject of sociological interest follows from the answers different groups give to each of these questions. There is no imposition of national character yardsticks prior to taking the answers. What I found was that the feminine gender was more compassionate among all cultures. Taken region-wise, the results became more or less predictable. The developed countries with a primary materialistic focus seemed more apathetic than the others. The group responses, though diverse, can be broadly summed up thus:
Group 1 of US students---1. Need for personal freedom and space 2. Rather be self-sufficient 3. Certainly not, the world moves towards wilful existence 4. Most practical and hassle-free
Group 2 of European students-- 1. Often unable to keep promises to the old due to life’s demands 2. Desirable 3. Love is a far better reason to bond 4. Not against but not always for
Group 3 of Indian students-- 1. Could never think of it though some do so heartlessly 2. Only parents can be trusted to support one in hard times 3. Love is great if found, but no complaints otherwise 4. Going to be a very risky thing though an adventure
Group 4 of Far-Eastern students-- 1. Not at all a good thing to do but cannot be helped often 2. Parents are indispensable 3. Family sometimes decides, if lucky you may be happy 4. It is the in-thing but not without faults
Evaluation and Analysis
On the basis of the above reading of problems in society a remedial plan has been formulated. A greater mixing of groups which are so distant in outlook, like, for instance, the Indian and American, has been made operational involving the target categories and results monitored again. This was seen to help the culturally distant groups complement one another. For this a dependency score is set at most independent rated at 4 and least at 1. From the other end, a compassion score is also set with the most compassionate rated at 4. At the start of the experiment the decision has been made that national character will not be read into individual replies. The final region-wise classing has been done only to classify sociological mindsets regionally. The final conclusions are such:
The affluent society of America is slowly compromising on cultural and religious based value systems.
European societies are in the fever of expansion but are not yet ready for the extreme individualistic experiments and fall back on past traditions to the extent possible.
Indian and other Oriental societies need to weigh development against familial values before they can decide what to throw accent on.
Recommendations Based on Conclusions
There could be more value-based orientation courses given to students, especially freshers, in universities, so that instead of completely doing away with the past they will learn what to honour and what to eliminate. Universities can also include “must read” cultural artefacts as a compulsory part of the student curriculum so that students can keep in check the spreading of damaging aspects of popular culture. As regards the United States, discourses of statesmen and also black freedom fighters like Martin Luther King and Booker T. Washington can be used as illustrations of what to strive for in character-building in order to be useful to oneself and the community. Above all, the wrong notion of old people being a burden and a backward trend should be dismissed once and for all, and they should be given the love and respect due to them by a caring new generation.
Patil, S. K. “A Sociological Prespective of Generation Gap,” International Journal of Innovative Research and Development, Vol. 3, 3, March 2014. Online journal. Retrieved 20 Jan, 2016, from