Intergenerational Programmes: Public Policy and Research Implications an International Perspective

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The end of the twentieth century finds a world that has become an increasingly diverse and complex place. Shifting trends in urbanisation, technology, industrialisation, health and social structures throughout the world has meant that many of the paradigms and belief systems that policies and cultural systems have been based upon have been, and continue to be, subject to tensions and realignment. One consequence of these changes has been that across the world, the need to maintain or develop social cohesion has become increasingly important. The world is diverse and culturally rich and there can be no expectation that those ideas and initiatives linked to Social Policy will necessarily have a broad applicability. However, when UNESCO had the foresight and presience to bring together leading representatives from ten countries from around the world to discuss Intergenerational practice and programmes, and the relevance of these to Social Policy, they could not have predicted the degree of resonance that would be achieved for all participants and by implication for the future development of Intergenerational work around the globe. Although no commonality of experience can be assumed there were significant common trends that were identified by the collaboration across the participating countries, these included: - An increase in life expectancy and consequently increased numbers of older people. This demographic shift was apparent for all countries. It should be noted that according to the UN such a rapid and ubiquitous growth has never been seen in the history of civilisation. - Changing economic and welfare patterns with the consequent risk of older people being seen as either a burden or less valuable or respected than in previous generations. - Changes and realignments in the structure of the family, often exacerbated by the need for mobility for individuals engaged in economic activity, which have actual or potential significant consequences for Social Policy. - The promotion and development of the ‘Life Long Learning’ movement. - Changing relationships between the young and old often characterised by a lack of understanding of each other. - A need for Social Policy to be rooted in engaging the whole community in a way that is both positive and recognises the mutuality of the relationships of different groups to one another. This monograph can do no more than introduce and demonstrate the potential for Intergenerational work to be an agent of Social Policy Development and change. With the support of UNESCO it seeks to pose significant questions about how present, and future, generations of young and old people can be mutually engaged in society to the benefit of their whole communities.


Ann-Kristin Bostrum, Cathy Gush, Jumbo Klerq, Ludger Veelken, Nora Kort, Raul Hernandez Castellon, Sally Newman, Sun Maintao, Yukiko Sawano

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