Monday, April 16, 2012

Millennials: Civically and Politically Disengaged?

Jean Twinge, Professor of Sociology at San Diego State University, is in the news again. You remember her as the author of GenerationMe: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled -- andMore Miserable Than Ever Before
In the past few weeks she has been mentioned in USA Today and Psychology Today and has published a study  on “Generational Differences in Young Adults' Life Goals, Concern forOthers, and Civic Orientation, 1966–2009.”

She maintains that the Millennials are ” more “civically and politically disengaged, more focused on materialistic values and less concerned about helping the larger community” than either Generation X (born 1962-1981) or Baby Boomers (born 1946 to about 1961) when studied at the same age.

The idea that this generation of college students is more engaged is incorrect, she says. Even the rise in volunteering must be due to “school requirements.”

I even learned a new word: “slacktivist”. It’s a contraction of “slacker” and “activist” and describes the feel good actions such as liking a FaceBook cause.

A rebuttal of her finds comes from Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, authors of Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America

Lucy Forster-Smith, Chaplain at Macalester College, recently wrote a piece in the Huffington Post. She also describes this generation in terms vastly different from Twenge.

Is Dr. Twinge looking at the generational glass a half empty?

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