Although ‘generation’ is a key concept in historiography, the problem of historicity has rarely been discussed within generational theory. In this article, I argue for a revision of generational thinking, which focuses on historical experience instead of political action. I start with a critical assessment of Karl Mannheims seminal essay ‘the Problem of Generations’ (1928). Although the core axiom of his theory – the primary importance of adolescent experiences for generational consciousness – is still valid, his historical materialist interpretation of generations is questionable as it leads to the fallacies of historicism. Alternatively, the imagined character of the generation is emphasized and a reinterpretation of the generational experience as an experience of historicity is proposed. Consequently, the generation is no longer understood as an agent of sociohistorical change, but as a meta-historical category in which the individual’s placement in history is both cognitively understood and socially mediated.
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