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9 - The Upward Transmission of Civic ‘Virtues’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 March 2021

Esther Muddiman
Affiliation:
Cardiff University
Sally Power
Affiliation:
Cardiff University
Chris Taylor
Affiliation:
Cardiff University
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Summary

Introduction

As we have seen in Chapters 7 and 8, the home provides a forum in which ideas are not only transmitted ‘downwards’, but also debated and argued over. Parents may try to pass on their beliefs but, as we have seen, they do not always succeed. Young people are also influenced by their friends, classmates, teachers and social media, bringing into the domestic sphere ‘novel’ ideas and capacities. Drawing on our interviews with parents and grandparents, this chapter explores the significance of the ‘upward transmission’ of potentially important skills and ideas from the younger generation to their parents and grandparents.

We begin by focusing on the ways in which young people can help their older relatives access a variety of social media tools and platforms, before looking at the ways in which younger generations can prompt reflection on deeply held values and attitudes, and can contribute to a shift in perspectives. Most notably, we detail how the rising prominence of environmental concerns has been brought to the attention of older family members, and how environmentalism enters into the family home through knowledge and practices learnt by younger family members in the classroom. We also explore how discussions with children and grandchildren present an opportunity for parents and grandparents to ‘update’ their perspectives on gender and sexuality.

Taming technology

As we saw in Chapter 7, digital technologies and social media are often a source of tension between parents and children, and disagreements about the use of ‘devices’, games and apps have been the focus of some family arguments. However, for those families living a long way from one another, modern forms of communication such as email, Skype and WhatsApp are invaluable for helping different generations feel connected to one another. As we saw in Chapter 4, Veronica uses these technologies to keep in touch with her son and his family overseas. Carol's grandchildren had taught her how to use the Internet and she was proud that she was now able to use a laptop to keep tabs on her children and their families via Facebook:

Interviewer: ‘Does Duncan kind of keep you in touch with what's going on?’

Carol: ‘Yes, when he remembers, because I send him rude notes. Thank God for laptops, you know. Tap, tap, tap, what is that photograph I have just seen?’

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Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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