Home Concepts Adult Development Deep Caring XXX: Searching for the Generative Society

Deep Caring XXX: Searching for the Generative Society

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William Bergquist and Gary Quehl

It is important to explore and seek the origins of generativity inside an individual’s psyche and inside the spirited and soulful processes engaged by generative people. And it is also critical to look at the environment or context in which generativity is identified and nurtured. Just as we found in exploring the nature of Sage leadership in our study of the two Western Nevada County communities in California, the generative person is encouraged (if not created) by the community in which he or she lives and works. Much as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to bring out the multiple roles of generativity in oneself. Our society gives birth to deep caring.

Fortunately, we are not alone in considering society to be a birthplace of generativity and deep caring. Dan McAdams and his fellow connoisseurs of generativity have edited an entire book on The Generative Society (St. Aubin, McAdams and Kim, 2004). We will highlight several findings and proposals offered in this book, especially as related to the four roles of generativity we have introduced in this set of essays. We will then turn briefly to the broader consideration of the social-economic structure of a society and the important interplay between social-class and generativity. We conclude with our own thoughts about the nature of a generative society, gaining insights from the generative women and men we interviewed during the Sage project.

In their introductory chapter, St. Aubin, McAdams and Kim (2004, p. 5) propose that: “Generativity is shaped by political, economic, religious and cultural forces. Furthermore, it makes good sense to consider how social institutions themselves, and even societies writ large, may or may not function in generative ways.” Like fellow observers of social structure and personal character in their description of the “good society” (Robert Bellah and others, 1991), St. Aubin, McAdams and Kim describe the conditions needed to encourage and maintain generativity and to overcome what another insightful social observer (Christopher Lasch) identifies as a “culture of narcissism.” (Lasch, 1991).

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