new chapter on generational trends in US politics

(Orlando, FL) I was asked to write a chapter about the US for an international book about “youth disaffection with politics.” I looked at 40-year trends in more than 20 survey questions, ranging from trust in government to support for government programs to turnout. I really did not find evidence of “youth disaffection” in the US. All Americans are pretty alienated, but it isn’t a generational pattern. Most of the trends I looked at aren’t generational at all–they rise and fall with recent news and events.

My chapter is mainly an argument against thinking of alienation from politics and government in generational terms, at least for the US. I even venture that a generational framework is generally problematic. It distracts attention from the most important phenomenon, which is the stubborn replication of the same inequalities from decade to decade. I am for studying and supporting youth, but not because today’s youth are different in some fundamental way from their predecessors. Rather, institutions should finally treat a new generation better so that we begin to see some meaningful differences.

See “Youth Disaffection with Politics: The US Case,” in Pedro Pérez Herrero (ed.) Desaffección política y gobernabilidad: el reto politíco (Madrid: Instituto Universitario de Investigación en Estudios Latinamericanos, 2015), pp. 45-60. See also the Millennials and politics and Letter to a Young Political Reformer.

About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.
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