Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Millennial worldview

The Millennials -- the 95 million Americans born between 1978 and 2000 -- are emerging onto the political and economic stage. A recent survey characterizes the Millennial worldview this way:

A commitment to the common good over individual gain; an ethos that reaches across traditional divisions such as race, ideology, and partisanship. The Millennials are not a "Generation Me" but rather a "Generation We." They are strongly progressive, socially tolerant, environmentally conscious, peace-loving, and poised to lead the biggest leftward shift in recent American history. They volunteer in record numbers and declare themselves ready to sacrifice their self-interest for the greater good. They do not fit neatly into any classic ideological category and are clearly eager to establish a new paradigm.

A comprehensive rejection of the country's current leadership and dominant institutions. Whether it is Congress and the federal government, major corporations, or organized religion, these young Americans believe the large institutions that dominate so much of our modern society have comprehensively failed, placing narrow self-interests ahead of the welfare of the country as a whole.

I wonder whether people under 30 don't always have opinions of this sort. In other words, I wonder whether these values are enduring features of this generation, or rather something that will change as they age. I'm mindful of the cliche that anyone who's not a liberal at age 20 doesn't have a heart and anyone who's not a conservative at 40 doesn't have a brain.


Brett Hummel said...

Unfortunately I think a lot of the negative stereotypes facing Gen Y have surfaced with very little actual research behind them. I am glad that you have found a piece that refutes the bias that is out there. This perception that Gen Y believes they are entitled is misplaced.

In contrast to previous generations, this generation seems to understand they do not want the same rewards from work their parents did, and I do not see any reason why they cannot demand otherwise.

By the way I don't know if you know this but the whole Gen Me thing is a result of a book written by Prof. Twenge by the same title. Her material is the most cited regarding how parents have set Millennials up for failure.

Dymphna said...

I have a millenial currently in grad school. Will there be a job available in his field when he graduates next year?

Who knows.

He's as unlike your description of that generation as one could imagine. But then he always did march to a different drummer...

He has learned that academia is as corrupt as I feared it was. He has also seen how little can be done by oneself.

He is:

*strongly conservative
*socially demanding
*thinks the environmental p.c. is blather that will be proved wrong and wasteful
*knows war is sometimes necessary and applauds those who can serve
*and is poised to walk quietly away from the lemming left.

Seeing his twin premature cousins born at 24 weeks' gestation made him anti-abortion.

Reading P.J. O'Rourke made him a realist with a sense of humor.

Sensing that one's spiritual side needs some structure he joined a church choir in grad school.

But, yes, he does think that the large, bloated central government is corrupt beyond salvaging...

This is a kid who cried at six when he found out George I had lost to Bill Clinton. Even then, he never trusted Clinton.

I won't bother with his opinion of Obama. You can guess.