generational identities is presented by Zhou and Hou (1999) who
studied the effects of the “send down” policy that occurred during the Cultural
Revolution in China, which resulted in a massive movement of educated urban
youth to rural areas to work. Zhou and Hou examined how this large-scale social
policy aimed at social redistribution was carried out and what factors influenced
who was sent down and who was allowed to return and how state policy shaped
and altered individual life courses. In some ways, this policy backfired because
the cohorts who experienced the send down policy (some 17 million young
people over a 12-year period) produced a Generation of reformers who were
the instigators of the reform of the Chinese agricultural production system and
provided the roots of a movement toward market economies in China. What is
unique about the Zhou and Hou research is that it demonstrates Mannheim’s
(1927/1952) notion of the stratification of experience and illustrates Mannheim’s
distinction between generational location and generation in actuality.
Zhou, X., & Hou, L. (1999). Children of the cultural revolution: The state and the life course in the
People’s Republic of China. American Sociological Review, 64, 12–36.