Singapore is often described as an economic success story. Within only three decades, the tiny island-state has turned into a wealthy and sophisticated metropolis with a highly educated labor force. The massive transformation, however, has been accompanied by the emergence of a deep and complex generation gap. Apart from the leap in education, income and consumption, a generational divide has arisen with regard to language, religion and social memory. What are the causes and consequences of this generational divide, and how is it articulated and managed in everyday life? How are intergenerational expectations and obligations challenged and renegotiated in relation to the extensive societal change?
Conflicts and Contracts is a contribution to the anthropology of intergenerational relations in modern societies. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, Kristina Göransson examines the seeming contradiction between traditional family values and the emergence of an unprecedented generation gap. While Singapore represents one of the most rapidly changing societies worldwide, the family remains a pivotal feature of society and the primary unit of support. In this light, the author argues for the importance of an analytical framework that recognizes processes of both disintegration and consolidation, and the levels at which these processes occur.