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Resource Scarcity and Prescriptive Attitudes Generate Subtle, Intergenerational Older-Worker Exclusion

Author(s): North, Michael S.; Fiske, Susan T.

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Abstract: Prior work describes specific, prescriptive resource tensions between generations, comprising active Succession, passive Consumption, and symbolic Identity (SCI; North & Fiske, 2013a, 2013b). The current paper focuses on how these domains potentially drive intergenerational exclusion in work-related networking and training spheres. Studies 1a–1c—each focusing on a different SCI domain—manipulated perceived resource availability between generations, then introduced a professional networking opportunity. Across studies, scarcity reduced the likelihood of young participants’ networking engagement with older workers who violated SCI resource expectations. Study 2 impelled participants to allocate scarce training resources among three similarly qualified but different-aged employees (younger, middle-aged, and older). Older workers received the lowest such investment, particularly among younger participants—an effect driven by Succession beliefs, per mediation analyses. Overall, the findings emphasize resource tensions in driving older workers’ subtle exclusion by younger generations; minimizing such tensions will be critical for aging, increasingly intergenerational workplaces.
Publication Date: Mar-2016
Electronic Publication Date: 9-Mar-2016
Citation: North, Michael S., Fiske, Susan T. (2016). Resource Scarcity and Prescriptive Attitudes Generate Subtle, Intergenerational Older-Worker Exclusion. Journal of Social Issues, 72 (1), 122 - 145. doi:10.1111/josi.12159
DOI: doi:10.1111/josi.12159
ISSN: 0022-4537
Pages: 122 - 145
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Social Issues
Version: Author's manuscript

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