Home Concepts Adult Development Essay XXI:  Generativity Three: Consecrating, Gathering, Preserving Values, Story-Telling

Essay XXI:  Generativity Three: Consecrating, Gathering, Preserving Values, Story-Telling

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There is yet another way in which Generativity Three is enacted through the preservation of values. We see it in the commitment of individuals and organizations to ensure the quality of work being done in specific occupations and professions. In some instances, the preservation takes place through the monitoring of people entering a given field. Men and women in a specific trade or profession devote considerable time and energy to serving on licensing boards and helping to prepare tests, review applications, or interview prospective members of the guild or profession.

In other instances, we witness the stewardship of a specific discipline or field among those people who help to establish or maintain a specific guild or professional association. Both of us were involved many years ago in helping to establish a new field in American higher education called “faculty development.” We were involved in successfully preparing grant proposals to fund early pilot projects in this field, as well as helping to establish a professional association and journal that focused on faculty development. While both of us were young professionals at the time, and thus were focusing primarily on Generativity One motivations (raising a family and finding gratification in successfully starting new projects), there was already in the back of the stage this enactment of Generativity Three. In particular, our actions were directed toward the preservation of values associated with the nascent field of faculty development. More recently, one of us has been given the opportunity to play a similar role in the formation and maturation of another field of human service, professional coaching. As the two of us enter the later years of our lives, Generativity Three and Generativity Four are much more likely to be enacted center stage.

Finally, we find that values preservation often takes place through the setting of informal and formal boundaries. Space and time are set aside for the gathering of people who share common values. Robert Bellah and his colleagues wrote about American culture and identified life-style enclaves as a distinctive and prominent feature of the societal landscape during the late 20th Century. (Bellah, and others, 1985) Bellah observed that many specialized communities were being formed in the United States based on shared values and interests. These enclaves might involve geographic isolation, such as the creation of retirement communities and urban centers for the 20-something cohort. They might also involve the temporary creation of settings, what we described above as the enactment of Generativity Three gatherings. A life-style enclave is formed temporarily. A group of people come together every weekend to convoy their Corvettes or to compare their collection of Star Wars memorabilia. Devotees expend considerable time and money to meet with fellow “fanatics/fans” at horse shows or the local baseball stadium. Members of these life-style enclaves are preserving a particular set of values by associating with others who share the same values, by recruiting others to their enclave, and by extolling the virtues of life in their enclave when meeting with “outsiders.” While these enclaves can be sources of exclusion and polarization, they can also be homes of critical preservation about important traditions. They seek to preserve hard-earned virtues in a society that often seems to have lost its roots and its way in a complex, turbulent and unpredictable world.

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