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Cohorts, Regimes, and the Legitimation of Democracy: West Germany Since 1945

Frederick D. Weil
American Sociological Review
Vol. 52, No. 3 (Jun., 1987), pp. 308-324
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095352
Page Count: 17
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Cohorts, Regimes, and the Legitimation of Democracy: West Germany Since 1945
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Abstract

Though researchers have begun to prefer cohort and period-cohort accounts of generational differences to life-cycle accounts, clear and unambiguous empirical support for either has been rare. Mannheim's theory of generations suggests that this failure may result from seeking cohort or period-cohort effects where the historical events that generate them do not have sufficient impact. Therefore, the aftermath of a revolutionary event is investigated--Nazism in Germany. Cohort and period-cohort effects without life-cycle effects were found in opinions on democracy and Nazism in West Germany in the decades following World War II. The "Nazi generation" lagged initially in embracing the new West German democracy, but its views subsequently converged with those of other cohorts. Transitions to democracy in several other countries are discussed briefly.

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