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Jürgen Reulecke (2007)

“Rootless Youth”: Post-War Youth from the Perspective of the Periodical “Soziale Welt” (Social World) in the Fifties*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 32, 1-2/2007, p. 233-248, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

Starting with the shortage of young people, which was the subject of a broad public debate in the post-war period, the article asks how the topics of “youth” and “the young generation” were perceived and dealt with, in particular at the “Dortmund Social Research Centre”, which was established in 1946 and was probably the most significant Western German research centre in the social sciences in both post-war decades. The contemporary generational constellations within sociology, and specifically the Social Research Centre, are also touched upon in this context. The well-known periodical entitled “Social World”, which the Centre published from 1949 onwards, served as material for the investigation. Having said that, it is surprisingly only in its first year of publication, 1949/50, that one finds more distinctly relevant articles which are characterised not least by a clearly reserved stance towards the conditions encountered by those growing up under National Socialism, and which for instance end by outlining a new type of male youth welfare worker (“Jugendpfleger”). The theme of “youth” and “generations” however evidently hardly had any role to play in sociological circles in the ensuing fifties and on into the early sixties, apart from Helmut Schelsky’sDie skeptische Generation” (“The Sceptical Generation”) from 1957. This contrasted starkly to the situation in educational science, and to historical educational research, which raises the question of whether this finding can be explained with the special “generational configuration” of the cohorts of post-war sociologists.

* Original title: „Entwurzelte Jugend“: die Nachkriegsjugend aus der Perspektive der Zeitschrift „Soziale Welt“ in den 1950er Jahren (full text in German only)

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