Home Concepts Adult Development Essay XXII:  Generativity Four—The Varieties of Civic Engagement

Essay XXII:  Generativity Four—The Varieties of Civic Engagement

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There is an additional something for which the Senior Sage leaders are themselves grateful. We know from the literature (and particularly in a series of ongoing studies conducted by the MacArthur Foundation) that we stay vibrant in old age if we remain socially, intellectually, and physically active. And when we do, we live longer. At some level we all know (and the Senior Sage Leaders particularly know): ”If we don’t use it, we’re going to lose it.” So it is reasonable to conclude that civic engagement and the fourth level of generativity can be based on a wonderfully selfish motive—a recognition that we need to be civically engaged if we want to stay vital and remain alive!

As we are about to demonstrate, however, our Sage leaders taught us much more about Generativity Four than just a strategy for living longer; this was especially the case with our Emerging Sage leaders (ages 26-55), who are likely to live many more years and are not yet pondering their own mortality. In our exploration of this complex matrix of motivations, we begin by reviewing the different ways that Generativity Four is enacted. As is the case with Generativity Three, there are a wide variety of narratives conveyed and stories to be told about Generativity Four.

In this series of essays, we explore the motivations that energize Generative Four acts, while also considering the trade-offs in terms of sacrifices being made by the Generative Four actors and the option to turn away from Generative Four and remain disengaged from civic action. In each of these chapters, we rely heavily on the interviews we conducted with Emerging and Senior Sage leaders, as well as the more extended interviews we had with our four Featured Actors.


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