Home Concepts Adult Development Generativity Two: The Existing Concepts

Generativity Two: The Existing Concepts

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We can consider the diverse challenges that Sally chooses to address in her mentoring as a manifestation of what generativity theorists identify as the rich interplay between caring and creativity. While creativity (as we mentioned earlier in this chapter) often is identified with creating a new idea or product, it can also (in alignment with caring and generativity) be identified with the passing on of an existing idea or product. We create by expanding the space in which the idea is shared or the product is used: “creativity [in its isolated form] ends once the [idea or] product is made, but generativity implies caring for the [idea or] product as it grows and develops.” (Kotre, 1984, p. 11)

Mentoring Inside and Outside an Organization

As the reader might note, these first three narratives offered by Sally do not take place within a specific organization; rather, they concern work with younger people who reside in the same community but not the same organization. While many of the generativity researchers focus on mentoring inside organizations, we find examples of work being done outside a specific organization as well. As a generative woman in mid-life, Sally was eager to take on many new challenges both inside and outside organizations: “Having formed a sense of identity and developed relationships, the middle-aged adult at the generative stage is thought to be ready to become involved in the larger sphere of society and to work to continue it and perhaps improve it for the next generation.” (Snyder and Clary, 2004, p. 223)

In many ways, the mentoring done by Sally is this expansion into the larger sphere of society–a blending of Generativity Two and Generativity Four (civic engagement). It also may represent a blending of Generativity One (parenting) and Generativity Two. As McAdams and his associates (McAdams, Hart and Maruna, 1998, p.13) have noted: “Forms of generativity that go beyond one’s kin may represent expansions or generalizations of the instinctive patterns associated with reproduction and care of offspring, and they may also tap more generally into other, related evolutionary tasks and mandates.”

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One Comment

  1. Rey Carr

    June 21, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    This is a most important essay. I’ve always thought that Erikson’s identification and explanation of this stage received too little attention. And maybe that’s part of the dilemma; younger researchers theorists weren’t in this stage and just thought of it as an abstract concept? At the same time generativity became much more important to me as I got older. Your essay is brilliant and I hope it gets the attention it deserves.


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