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Generation (from the Latin generāre, meaning "to beget"), [1] also known as procreation, is the act of producing offspring. In a more generic sense, it can also refer to the act of creating something inanimate such as electrical generation or cryptographic code generation.

A generation can also be a stage or degree in a succession of natural descent as a grandfather, a father, and the father's son comprise three generations. A generation can refer to stages of successive improvement in the development of a technology such as the internal combustion engine, or successive iterations of products with planned obsolescence, such as video game consoles or mobile phones.

In biology, the process by which populations of organisms pass on advantageous traits from generation to generation is known as evolution.


Familial generation

It is important to distinguish between familial and cultural generations. A familial generation is defined as the average time between a mother's first offspring and her daughter's first offspring. The generation length is 25.2 years in the United States as of 2007[2] and 27.4 years in the United Kingdom as of 2004.[3] As a general estimate, thirty years can also be used as an average generation length for humans.[4]

Cultural generation

Cultural generations are cohorts of people who were born in the same date range and share similar cultural experience. The idea of a cultural generation, in the sense that it is used today gained currency in the 19th century. Prior to that the concept "generation" had generally referred to family relationships, not broader social groupings. In 1863, French lexicographer Emile Littré had defined a generation as, "all men living more or less at the same time."[5]

However, as the 19th century wore on, several trends promoted a new idea of generations, of a society divided into different categories of people based on age. These trends were all related to the process of modernisation, industrialisation, or westernisation, which had been changing the face of Europe since the mid-eighteenth century. One was a change in mentality about time and social change. The increasing prevalence of enlightenment ideas encouraged the idea that society and life were changeable, and that civilization could progress. This encouraged the equation of youth with social renewal and change. Political rhetoric in the 19th century often focused on the renewing power of youth influenced by movements such as Young Italy, Young Germany, Sturm und Drang, the German Youth Movement, and other romantic movements. By the end of the 19th century European intellectuals were disposed toward thinking of the world in generational terms, and in terms of youth rebellion and emancipation.[5]

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