Tensions in intergenerational practice guidance: intergroup contact versus community development

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Katie Wright-Bevans
Michael Murray
Alexandra Lamont


Intergenerational practice (IP) is an approach within community health promotion which aims to bring older and younger community members together in collaborative activity. Little research has critically examined the assumptions and values within IP and their implications for these communities. A sample of 15 IP planning documents were analysed using a social constructionist thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke2006) guided by Prior’s (2008) concept of documents as active agents. Three tensions were identified: a community-led model versus a contact model; old and young as targets versus older people as targets; and process-focused versus out­come-focused evaluation. IP has relied on contact theory as a mechanism of change, which has rooted IP to an overly individualistic practice tar­geted at older people (rather than all ages). In contrast, the community-led ethos of IP was also evident alongside values of mutual benefit for old and young, and a desire for more process-focused evaluation.


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