Olivier DONNAT, Florence LEVY
The generational approach, i.e. the approach by groups born at the same time and having the same ‘life calendar’, enables the age effect to be distinguished from the generation effect.When applied to the findings of the four waves of enquiries into the cultural practices of the French (1973, 1981, 1988, 1997), it confirms the generational character of most of the changes observed since the early 1970s.
It shows that they were in most cases originated by a particular generation and continued and expanded by the succeeding ones. The growing momentum of the audio-visual compared with print media, for example, can be seen as having begun thirty years ago with the drop in newspaper reading, followed by the increase in time spent watching television when the French audiovisual scene diversified and, subsequently, by a relative falling-off in book reading. The trend has been amplified in recent years by the widening use of computers. A retrospective analysis suggests that most of the cultural and media practices traditionally measured since the early 1970s will, with the exception of listening to recorded music, experience a more or less marked decline over the coming years. This broad tendency seems all the more likely in that the last few years have witnessed the emergence of a digital culture massively adopted by the young generations.
The simple fact of generational renewal leads to the conclusion that the tendency will gain strength in the years to come. In looking at the future, it may therefore be predicted that the rise of this budding digital culture will take place, at least to some extent, at the expense of earlier cultural and media practices. The reasons lie not only in the competition for time and budget that it will engender, but also in the nature of its offerings in terms of written, audio or visual content and the broadcasting scope left to the older media (press, radio, television).