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Intergenerationeel denken: ambivalenties en solidariteit


Janneke van Mens-Verhulst

About Janneke
Professor dr. Janneke van Mens-Verhulst is a social scientist (andragology), specialized in furthering well-being and health from a sociocultural diversity perspective. From 1995 until 2007, she held an endowed chair "Feminist Social and Health Care in Theory and Practice" at the University for Humanist Studies. She also taught in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology at Utrecht University until 2006. Her research activities within the Netherlands' Research School of Women's Studies were in the area of Gender and Health. For her current activities and list of publications, see (in Dutch) or (in English). Correspondence to: Kastanjelaan 24, 1214 LH Hilversum, The Netherlands. E-mail:
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Intergenerational thinking: ambivalences and solidarity In discussions about the problems caused by population aging and fertility decline, the call for solidarity is almost an automatic response. But how appropriate is an approach in terms of solidarity to prevent, contain or solve intergenerational problems? Is it perhaps more productive to frame intergenerational solidarity as one of the four possible conditions in the ambivalence approach to intergenerational relationships, like Lüscher and colleagues do? After having summarized and problematized the dominant solidarity approach, I describe in this article the intergenerational ambivalence approach and I explore the potential added value. My conclusion is that the ambivalence approach offers some eye-openers and interesting lines of thought to understand the dynamics within and between generations. Consequently, it provides a valuable framework for reflection on existing and future intergenerational problem definitions and interventions: beyond the solidarity reflex. Intergenerationeel denken: ambivalenties en solidariteit In de discussies over de problemen ten gevolge van dubbele vergrijzing en ontgroening klinkt bijna reflexmatig de roep om solidariteit. Maar is een benadering in termen van solidariteit wel geschikt om intergenerationele conflicten te voorkomen, in te dammen of op te lossen? Of is het vruchtbaarder intergenerationele solidariteit in te kaderen als één van de vier mogelijke condities in de ambivalentiebenadering van intergenerationele verhoudingen, zoals Lüscher en collega’s dat doen? Nadat ik eerst de dominante opvatting van intergenerationele solidariteit heb samengevat en geproblematiseerd, beschrijf ik in dit artikel de intergenerationele ambivalentiebenadering en verken ik de mogelijke meerwaarde ervan. Mijn conclusie is dat de ambivalentiebenadering een aantal eyeopeners en interessante denksporen biedt voor de dynamiek in relaties tussen én binnen generaties. Daarmee vormt het een waardevol kader voor reflectie op bestaande en toekomstige intergenerationele probleemdefinities en interventies: de solidariteitsreflex voorbij.
How to Cite: van Mens-Verhulst, J., 2012. Intergenerationeel denken: ambivalenties en solidariteit. Journal of Social Intervention: Theory and Practice, 21(4), pp.28–48. DOI:
Published on 17 Dec 2012.
Peer Reviewed


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