Political Science Youth and Generational Differences in US Politics
by
Candis W. Smith
  • LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0203

Introduction

People are less likely to participate in politics when they are young, and yet for decades scholars have been concerned about what young people think about politics and the political system. This concern was initially motivated by the belief that the political socialization of the young is a primary input function in the political system; that is to say, the values and ideas that are passed onto the young were believed to have implications for the longevity of a democratic political system. This body of literature initially suggested that values are passed down intergenerationally from one cohort to another, and further political attitudes and values attained at a young age are enduring. However, as the subfield evolved, research later revealed that people’s attitudes have a tendency to change over their lifetime. What’s more, it is quite clear that there tends to be a difference in the way that the average member of one generation perceives the world, interacts with their political institutions, and views other members of society in comparison to the average member of another generation. These observations represent some of the forces that influence aggregate change in political attitudes and behaviors over time: age effects, period effects, and cohort effects. Age effects, or life-cycle effects, are marked by the evolution in attitudes, behavior, and beliefs that individuals may see over their lifetime. Period effects result from changes in the social, historical, and cultural environment; these effects are reflected by the shifts in the ways in which a population, on the whole, manages particular attitudes and behaviors over time. Yang Yang and her colleagues explain that cohort effects are “conceived as the essence of social change” in their article “The Intrinsic Estimator for Age-Period-Cohort Analysis: What Is It and How to Use It” (American Journal of Sociology 113.6 [2008]: 1697–1736). Cohort effects describe the aggregate changes in society’s attitudes and behaviors that occur due to the replacement of a group of people who were born at a similar time, and thus were socialized to value and believe certain things, by a new generation who have their own shared, unique set of experiences, ideas, values, and worldview. Ryder 1965 (cited under Early Works and Foundational Texts) asserted, “since cohorts are used to achieve structural transformation and since they manifest its consequences in characteristic ways, it is proposed that research be designed to capitalize on the congruence of social change and cohort identification.” Many have taken Ryder’s call to heart, but there exists the methodological challenge of parsing out period, age, and cohort effects; what’s more, there is the problem of interaction among these three effects. Even in the face of these challenges, research that concerns generational differences has evolved; scholars are increasingly able to move from simple descriptions of generational attributes and trends over time to disentangling these three aforementioned effects from one another with the use of new methodological tools and longitudinal data.

Early Works and Foundational Texts

Scholars across social science disciplines are cognizant of the notion that the one thing that remains the same is change; over time, societies see changes in attitudes about gender and gender roles, racial attitudes as well as policy preferences and political behavior, but pinning down the exact mechanisms of change have been difficult. Early on, works of scholarship like Mannheim 1952 and Ryder 1965 theorized that generational replacement should be at the center of explanations of social change. Works such as Crittenden 1963 and Converse 1969 made some of the first attempts to assess these claims empirically. Hyman 1959 develops the classic definition of political socialization, which is an effort to describe how generations are made. Relatedly, much of the early political socialization focused on children’s attitudes, well illustrated in Easton and Hess 1962. Later, Firebaugh 1992 built on these ideas by using empirical data to gain a better understanding of the role of cohort replacement on social change.

  • Converse, Philip E. “Of Time and Partisan Stability.” Comparative Political Studies 2.2 (1969): 139–171.

    DOI: 10.1177/001041406900200201Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A major debate in the subfield of political behavior is whether and the extent to which partisanship is stable over one’s lifetime. Indeed, this literature is large enough to have its own bibliography. This article represents one of the many that is written on the subject.

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  • Crittenden, John. “Aging and Political Participation.” Western Political Quarterly 16.2 (1963): 323–331.

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    Crittenden noticed that at first glance partisanship seems to become stronger over one’s lifetime, but political participation declines in older age. The author tries to empirically assess whether this is actually the case, though must rely on rather crude methods.

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  • Easton, David, and Robert D. Hess. “The Child’s Political World.” Midwest Journal of Political Science 6.3 (1962): 229–246.

    DOI: 10.2307/2108634Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This piece represents one of the most important early foundational texts on political socialization. These scholars believed it was important to understand how learning about politics (at an early age) influences citizens’ political attitudes, behaviors, and thus, outcomes of the political system.

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  • Firebaugh, Glenn. “Where Does Social Change Come From?” Population Research and Policy Review 11.1 (1992): 1–20.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF00136392Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author seeks to disentangle age effects from cohort effects in efforts to explain shifts in attitudes, opportunity structure across groups, and political behaviors. The aim is to determine whether social change over time is primarily due to the fact that individuals may change their personal attitudes or due to cohort replacement. The article also includes an early methodological strategy to parse out the effects.

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  • Hyman, Herbert. Political Socialization: A Study in the Psychology of Political Behavior. Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1959.

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    This seminal text is responsible for inspiring the proliferation of work on political socialization. Here, we find the development of the classic definition of socialization (p. 25). Hyman provides a summary of findings about socialization from other disciplines, and explains that since political attitudes and behaviors are learned, social scientists should delve in to understand this process. He asserts that parents’ and their children’s political attitudes are highly similar, suggesting intergenerational transmission.

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  • Mannheim, Karl. “The Problem of Generations.” In Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge. Edited by Karl Mannheim and Paul Kecskemeti, 276–320. New York: Oxford University Press, 1952.

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    Mannheim defines a generation as a group of people who share the same year of birth and, therefore, have a “common location in the historical dimension of the social process” (p. 290). The author explains the mechanisms that allow cohort replacement to accelerate the pace of social change over time.

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  • Ryder, Norman B. “The Cohort as a Concept in the Study of Social Change.” American Sociological Review 30.6 (1965): 843–861.

    DOI: 10.2307/2090964Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Ryder theorizes the importance of generational cohorts; he explains what makes a cohort distinctive by delineating the stages and experiences that may lead a cohort to share a certain set of attitudes or values. He emphasizes that cohort replacement is not a guarantor of social change, but rather that “demographic metabolism” permits change.

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Political Socialization

Although political scientists have recognized the importance of age, period, and cohort effects on aggregate change in political attitudes or behaviors, scholars have tended to focus on one of these aspects at a time, with the largest emphasis being on cohort. But to be more specific, they have focused on the “making of generations,” or political socialization. One of the underlying assumptions of this work is that socialization results in enduring and relatively stable political orientations. Scholars initially focused on Children and Politics in their research, but later realized that some attitudes may change over one’s lifetime, thereby shifting some attention to Age Effects on Political Attitudes, Behavior, and (In)Stability. Jennings and Niemi 1968 was one of the first works to undermine the basic assumptions of the field. Thereafter, this subfield of political psychology has had its theoretical ups and downs. Dennis 1968, Marsh 1971, Sears 1975, and Conover 1991 are helpful here because they bring readers up to speed about political socialization research of that time as well as illuminate the assumptions of this research and present potential theoretical and methodological solutions. Nonetheless, many have taken away helpful lessons of this subfield and have sought to expand it; this sentiment is well illustrated in Glass, et al. 1986 and Dinas 2014.

  • Conover, Pamela Johnston. “Political Socialization: Where’s the Politics.” In Political Science: Looking to the Future. Edited by William Crotty, 125–152. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1991.

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    In response to the implosion of the political socialization subfield, Conover asks how this area of research can be revived. She suggests that the discipline make a concerted effort to refine the definition of “political socialization” and to consider processes of political learning. She also notes that socialization does not occur in a political vacuum, encouraging researchers to consider levers of power and positionality.

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  • Dennis, Jack. “Major Problems of Political Socialization Research.” Midwest Journal of Political Science (1968): 85–114.

    DOI: 10.2307/2110156Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Dennis begins by bringing the reader up to speed about the central assumptions of the political socialization literature at the time, and then Dennis outlines what he views at ten major problems of the subfield, two of which concern parsing out generational and life-cycle effects.

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  • Dinas, Elias. “The Long Shadow of Parental Political Socialization on the Development of Political Orientations.” Forum 12.3 (2014): 397–416.

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    Although the subfield seemed to implode, scholars like Dinas suggest that political socialization, or the influence of parents’ attitudes on their children, is still important to consider. Dinas suggests that parents’ influence represents an anchor, where children may fall close or far away but nonetheless are influenced by parents’ attention to politics.

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  • Glass, Jennifer, Vern L. Bengtson, and Charlotte Chorn Dunham. “Attitude Similarity in Three-Generation Families: Socialization, Status Inheritance, or Reciprocal Influence?” American Sociological Review (1986): 685–698.

    DOI: 10.2307/2095493Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors take into account the ideas that children and parents may be similar because of similar socioeconomic backgrounds and that influence may be reciprocal, that is sons and daughters, particularly when they become adults, may influence their parents’ political attitudes.

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  • Jennings, M. Kent, and Richard G. Niemi. “The Transmission of Political Values from Parent to Child.” American Political Science Review 62.1 (1968): 169–184.

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    In conversation with scholars like Herbert Hyman (see Hyman 1959, cited under Early Works and Foundational Texts) who suggested that parents and children have very similar attitudes, thus providing evidence for intergenerational transmission (and endurance) of political attitudes, these scholars provide evidence to the contrary, ultimately stoking a debate that would last for at least a decade.

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  • Marsh, David. “Political Socialization: The Implicit Assumptions Questioned.” British Journal of Political Science 1.4 (1971): 453–465.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0007123400009248Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This piece calls into question three of the major assumptions of the literature as it existed at the time of Marsh’s writing; he makes a plea for methodological and theoretical sophistication, an incorporation of adult socialization and learning, and consideration for the notion that not all individuals’ attitudes and behaviors will have a direct or equal impact on the political system, however one defines “political system.”

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  • Sapiro, Virginia. “Not Your Parents’ Political Socialization: Introduction for a New Generation.” Annual Review of Political Science 7 (2004): 1–23.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.polisci.7.012003.104840Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In light of globalization and various countries’ efforts to democratize, Sapiro aims to reinvigorate questions of political socialization. She suggests that researchers think about how major political changes influence citizens (e.g., fall of the USSR) and the socialization of politically relevant identities, especially since more people are moving across borders, and the like.

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  • Sears, David O. “Political Socialization.” In Handbook of Political Science. Edited by Fred I. Greenstein and Nelson W. Polsby, 93–153. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1975.

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    The bibliography of this article is worth its weight in gold. Sears, a leading political psychology scholar, describes and analyzes the contributions and major flaws of the political socialization and education research from the 1930s up until its publication year.

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Children and Politics

The study of political socialization largely began as a study of children because it was believed that what people learned as children would have a substantial influence on what people believed and how they behaved in the political realm as adults. This body of research is well represented by Greenstein 1965. As the field developed, works like Abramson 1972 revealed the fact that low-strata children have a different understanding of the political world in comparison to high-strata children; Cohen 2010 reveals that this is still the case in the early 21st century. What’s more, the field of political socialization underwent a transformation and began new points of focus: Flanagan and Gallay 1995 encouraged scholars to think more about political development. Owen and Dennis 1987 as well as Simon and Merrill 1997 incorporated the role of the media in political development. Sears and Valentino 1997 and McDevitt 2006 put forward propositions that young people may seek out information, or that the general salience of politics (e.g., during an election) may provoke special moments for political learning and socialization among children.

  • Abramson, Paul R. “Political Efficacy and Political Trust among Black Schoolchildren: Two Explanations.” Journal of Politics 34.4 (1972): 1243–1275.

    DOI: 10.2307/2128934Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Many scholars noted differences between black and white school children’s responses to the American political system. Abramson seeks to determine the mechanisms that undergird black children’s attitudes, parsing out whether the effects are best explained by low feelings of self-competence or because of an understanding of a political reality that provides less power to blacks.

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  • Cohen, Cathy J. Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    Using data from the Black Youth Project (cited under Data), Cohen assesses the feelings of young Americans, across racial groups, about the American political system, political agency, and internal and external political efficacy.

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  • Flanagan, Constance, and Leslie S. Gallay. “Reframing the Meaning of ‘Political’ in Research with Adolescents.” Perspectives on Political Science 24.1 (1995): 34–41.

    DOI: 10.1080/10457097.1995.9941863Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors encourage researchers to think more broadly about what is deemed “political” and calls for a more robust conversation about processes of political development (which implies that people are subject to change over their life) rather than political socialization. Developmental scholarship helps to explain how principles are constructed, refined and reconstructed, starting at a young age.

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  • Greenstein, Fred. Children and Politics. Clinton, MA: Colonial, 1965.

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    In one of the earliest studies of political socialization, Greenstein seeks to gain a better understanding of what and how children, aged nine to thirteen years of age, learn about politics. Greenstein takes on this task because he believes this age is a crucial period of social-psychological and political development that will have enduring effects.

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  • McDevitt, Michael. “The Partisan Child: Developmental Provocation as a Model of Political Socialization.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research 18.1 (2006): 67–88.

    DOI: 10.1093/ijpor/edh079Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Working in the same line of research as Sears and Valentino 1997, McDevitt suggests that there are certain conditions for political socialization to occur; additionally, he asserts that children may provoke conversations about politics with their parents, thus having a hand in shaping their own political learning.

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  • Owen, Diana, and Jack Dennis. “Preadult Development of Political Tolerance.” Political Psychology (1987): 547–561.

    DOI: 10.2307/3790921Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors make an effort to discern the effects of political socialization and teaching—due to parents and the media—from age effects and socioeconomic background on political tolerance using parent-child three-wave panel data.

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  • Sears, David O., and Nicholas A. Valentino. “Politics Matters: Political Events as Catalysts for Preadult Socialization.” American Political Science Review 91.1 (1997): 45–65.

    DOI: 10.2307/2952258Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors examine whether political socialization—here defined as the mimicry of young people’s attitudes to their parents—occurs on a continual basis or in burst, particularly in response to major political events. They find that salience of issues and politics, more generally, is a condition for political socialization.

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  • Simon, James, and Bruce D. Merrill. “The Next Generation of News Consumers: Children’s News Media Choices in an Election Campaign.” Political Communication 14.3 (1997): 307–321.

    DOI: 10.1080/105846097199344Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article represents a research shift from focusing on political socialization to understanding civic engagement and the effects of civic education. This article is also at the forefront of considering effects of the media on children, as access to information was increasing due to the proliferation of personal computers.

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Age Effects on Political Attitudes, Behavior, and (In)Stability

As the scholarship on political socialization and generational replacement evolved, the 1970s witnessed a paradigm shift from preadult socialization to political learning, which potentially could happen over the course of one’s lifetime, and can happen whether individuals intend for it to happen or not. With this in mind, Alwin and Krosnick 1991 (and Krosnick and Alwin 1989) as well as Sears and Funk 1999 test the “persistence hypothesis.” Other works like Firebaugh 1992 and Cutler, et al. 1980 provide evidence that people do change their attitudes even in old age, but ultimately assert that cohort replacement is a major force of social change. Works like Górecki 2015 and Hippel, et al. 2000 consider the idea that one’s mind just works differently as one ages, and thus we should not expect monotonic changes across the lifespan.

  • Alwin, Duane F., and Jon A. Krosnick. “Aging, Cohorts, and the Stability of Sociopolitical Orientations over the Life Span.” American Journal of Sociology 97.1 (1991): 169–195.

    DOI: 10.1086/229744Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors test the impressionable-years hypothesis, aging-stability hypothesis, and the stability of symbolic attitudes. They find that people’s attitudes (and behaviors, such as voting) do become more stable as they age, but do not find a major difference between the increased stability of symbolic and nonsymbolic attitudes.

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  • Cutler, Stephen J., Sally Ann Lentz, Michael J. Muha, and Robert N. Riter. “Aging and Conservatism: Cohort Changes in Attitudes about Legalized Abortion.” Journal of Gerontology 35.1 (1980): 115–123.

    DOI: 10.1093/geronj/35.1.115Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors seek to parse out age, period, and cohort effects on aggregate attitude change toward abortion. They find that older people are likely to change their attitudes although at a much slower rate in comparison to those who are younger; changes can occur later in life, in part due to societal changes in norms (i.e., period effects).

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  • Firebaugh, Glenn. “Where Does Social Change Come From?” Population Research and Policy Review 11.1 (1992): 1–20.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF00136392Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The author seeks to disentangle age effects from cohort effects in efforts to explain shifts in attitudes, opportunity structure across groups, and political behaviors. He determines that while people may change their attitudes, much of the change we see is due to what he calls population turnover, or cohort replacement.

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  • Górecki, Maciej A. “Age, Experience and the Contextual Determinants of Turnout: A Deeper Look at the Process of Habit Formation in Electoral Participation.” Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 25.4 (2015): 425–443.

    DOI: 10.1080/17457289.2015.1028411Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Although using data from Switzerland, the author attempts to explain how some political behaviors—voting—become “habits.” The author posits that rather than simply focusing on aging, one might also consider that life-cycle effects are not monotonic, and further that context will influence people differently at different ages.

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  • Hippel, William von, Lisa A. Silver, and Molly E. Lynch. “Stereotyping against Your Will: The Role of Inhibitory Ability in Stereotyping and Prejudice among the Elderly.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 26.5 (2000): 523–532.

    DOI: 10.1177/0146167200267001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors of this article note that we tend to see lower levels of racial animus among young people largely because young people have been socialized to be less prejudice in comparison to older Americans. In this article, they add that not only are older people likely to be prejudiced because of their generational experience but also because older people have lower levels of cognitive inhibition to stereotype.

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  • Krosnick, Jon A., and Duane F. Alwin. “Aging and Susceptibility to Attitude Change.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 57.3 (1989): 416.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.57.3.416Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article highlights and seeks to tackle many of the methodological problems presented to scholars who seek to provide support or discount theories such as the impressionable-years hypothesis and the persistence hypothesis. They find support for both.

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  • Panagopoulos, Costas, and Marisa A. Abrajano. “Life-Cycle Effects on Social Pressure to Vote.” Electoral Studies 33 (2014): 115–122.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.electstud.2013.07.019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Although the authors admit that they cannot disentangle age from cohort effects in their study, they suggest that older people are more susceptible to respond to a basic appeal or norm of civic duty; they use data from a field experiment.

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  • Sears, David O., and Carolyn L. Funk. “Evidence of the Long-Term Persistence of Adults’ Political Predispositions.” Journal of Politics 61.1 (1999): 1–28.

    DOI: 10.2307/2647773Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Focusing on partisanship and political ideology, the authors seek to determine whether these kinds of political attitudes become increasingly persistent and stable over time. The article begins with a helpful distillation of variations of the persistence hypothesis. They find a great deal of persistence using a very unique data set, and they find that racial attitudes developed at earlier life stages influenced these political attitudes, too.

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Generations and Social Change

Despite the methodological and theoretical debates over whether people’s preadult attitudes remain the same or change, or whether attitudes developed during early adulthood become more crystalized and stable over time, underlying these debates is the notion that people who share a particular historical location tend to be different from their predecessors as well as those who follow. As such, the notion that cohort change, or generational replacement, is a major influence in social change and human development seems to be readily supported by social scientists. Alwin and McCammon 2007 and Stoker 2014 illuminate some of the issues of nomenclature and conceptualization of what a “generation” is as well as query why generations tend to differ from one another. Schuman and Scott 1989 takes a first step toward answering the question of why generations are different.

  • Alwin, Duane F., and Ryan J. McCammon. “Rethinking Generations.” Research in Human Development 4.3–4 (2007): 219–237.

    DOI: 10.1080/15427600701663072Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors illuminate the fact that although many researchers—across “hard” and social sciences—use the word “generation,” often times they reference different things: location in historical time, place in family lineage, or role in historical participation (e.g., social movements). They elucidate the problems as well as consider how employing these different conceptualizations serve each other well.

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  • Schuman, Howard, and Jacqueline Scott. “Generations and Collective Memories.” American Sociological Review 54.3 (1989): 359–381.

    DOI: 10.2307/2095611Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors examine what issues people believe are important, and find that members of various generations have different salient memories. Schuman with another author, Corning, published a book with a similar title.

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  • Stoker, Laura. “Reflections on the Study of Generations in Politics.” Forum 12.3 (2014): 377–396.

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    Stoker presents a short review of how the word “generation” is used as well as discusses the challenges of the study of political generations, particularly as it relates to disentangling age, period, and cohort effects and to the question of why generational differences emerge in the first place.

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Racial Attitudes

Social scientists have traced and tracked racial attitudes since the 1940s; most scholars and Americans, more broadly, would agree that racial attitudes have improved a great deal since the 1950s. Why has this change occurred? One of the major underlying mechanisms is cohort replacement, according to a number of works including Schuman, et al. 1997; Firebaugh and Davis 1988; and Hochschild, et al. 2012. However, other works, including Andolina and Mayer 2003 and Wilson 1996, suggest that the liberalizing of racial attitudes across time and across generational groups is not monotonic. Nteta and Greenlee 2013 and Blinder 2007 consider the dueling forces of socialization and new societal norms on racial attitudes.

  • Andolina, Molly W., and Jeremy D. Mayer. “Demographic Shifts and Racial Attitudes: How Tolerant Are Whites in the Most Diverse Generation?” Social Science Journal 40.1 (2003): 19–31.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0362-3319(02)00256-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Cohort change is probably very important in shifts in attitudes over time, but they also found that there was stagnation in some racial attitudes (e.g., affirmative action, equal employment) between Generation X and Boomers.

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  • Blinder, Scott B. “Dissonance Persists: Reproduction of Racial Attitudes among Post–Civil Rights Cohorts of White Americans.” American Politics Research 35.3 (2007): 299–335.

    DOI: 10.1177/1532673X07300234Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Blinder presents a theory of “two-tracked socialization,” which is an effort to explain why young white Americans share racialized policy preferences with their predecessors, despite the fact that they have been socialized in a very different racial environment.

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  • Firebaugh, Glenn, and Kenneth E. Davis. “Trends in Anti-Black Prejudice, 1972–1984: Region and Cohort Effects.” American Journal of Sociology 94.2 (1988): 251–272.

    DOI: 10.1086/228991Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors present evidence that while whites, in general, may have changed their racial attitudes over time, as individuals, much of the aggregate change in racial attitudes derives from cohort replacement.

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  • Hochschild, Jennifer L., Vesla M. Weaver, and Traci R. Burch. Creating a New Racial Order: How Immigration, Multiracialism, Genomics, and the Young Can Remake Race in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012.

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    The authors of this book are concerned with a series of major societal changes that may influence not only the way Americans understand race but also its role in shaping individuals’ life chances. One of the major forces they point out is generational replacement.

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  • Nteta, Tatishe M., and Jill S. Greenlee. “A Change is Gonna Come: Generational Membership and White Racial Attitudes in the 21st Century.” Political Psychology 34.6 (2013): 877–897.

    DOI: 10.1111/pops.12028Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Relying on the impressionable-years hypothesis, the authors seek to determine whether an “Obama Generation” has emerged. The authors note that there is a change in racial attitudes among the youngest cohort of American voters, although it is unclear whether this change is for better or worse.

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  • Schuman, Howard, Charlotte Steeh, Lawrence Bobo, and Maria Krysan. Racial Attitudes in America: Trends and Interpretation. Rev. ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.

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    These scholars question the assumption that young people will continue to be the primary impetus for racial change in the coming decades; it’s an assumption that has yet to be backed up by empirical evidence, particularly given that as people move away from the civil rights movement, they may feel less urgency to change the status quo.

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  • Wilson, Thomas C. “Cohort and Prejudice: Whites’ Attitudes toward Blacks, Hispanics, Jews and Asians.” Public Opinion Quarterly 60.2 (1996): 253–274.

    DOI: 10.1086/297750Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Wilson finds that cohorts born after World War II were less prejudiced than their predecessors, but found a plateau in attitudes among those born after. In keeping with Mannheim’s theory of generations, the author finds that those socialized in the Reagan era had more conservative racial attitudes.

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Social Attitudes and Cultural Shifts

Similar to changing attitudes about race, America has seen a shift in attitudes toward other social and cultural issues, such as the role of women, abortion, attitudes toward members of LGBT+ communities and marriage (e.g., the value of marriage, marriage equality). However, unlike trends in racial attitudes, there appears be a greater diffusion of change in attitudes among the population, an important distinction to make (and perhaps, an equally important question to answer). People often believe young people are liberal because they are young, but Astin 1997 finds that young people in the late 20th century are much different from young people of the previous decades. Works such as Baunach 2012; Cutler, et al. 1980; Loftus 2001; and Treas 2002 entertain a generational replacement hypothesis to explain change in cultural attitudes, but reveal that the population as a whole shifted attitudes.

  • Astin, Alexander W. “The Changing American College Student: Thirty-Year Trends, 1966–1996.” Review of Higher Education 21.2 (1997): 115–135.

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    Using data from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, which is a data set of nearly nine million first-year college students, Astin explores trends in attitudes. He finds that younger people in the late 1990s tend to be more liberal than young people of the 1960s.

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  • Baunach, Dawn Michelle. “Changing Same-Sex Marriage Attitudes in America from 1988 through 2010.” Public Opinion Quarterly 76.2 (2012): 364–378.

    DOI: 10.1093/poq/nfs022Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Baunach examines changes in attitudes about same-sex marriage, and although she finds that younger people (in nearly all of the years she examines) are more supportive than older people, ultimately she suggests that there has been a cultural shift in attitudes, not necessarily led by the young.

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  • Cutler, Stephen J., Sally Ann Lentz, Michael J. Muha, and Robert N. Riter. “Aging and Conservatism: Cohort Changes in Attitudes about Legalized Abortion.” Journal of Gerontology 35.1 (1980): 115–123.

    DOI: 10.1093/geronj/35.1.115Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In part, this article represents an effort to disentangle age, cohort, and period changes in attitudes toward abortion. The scholars find that due to period effects, nearly all cohorts are more likely to support abortion rights, and even older people have changed their attitudes, although at a slower rate.

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  • Loftus, Jeni. “America’s Liberalization in Attitudes toward Homosexuality, 1973 to 1998.” American Sociological Review (2001): 762–782.

    DOI: 10.2307/3088957Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Loftus separates people’s attitudes toward members of LGBT+ communities and their support for policies that protect this group’s rights. She finds that while there has been liberalization in the latter, changes in the former have been much slower; overall, she suggests a societal cultural shift.

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  • Pacheco, Julianna, and Rebecca Kreitzer. “Adolescent Determinants of Abortion Attitudes: Evidence from the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.” Public Opinion Quarterly 80.1 (2016): 66–89.

    DOI: 10.1093/poq/nfv050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors find support for the influence of preadult attitudes and socialization on adult attitudes about abortion, suggesting that abortion attitudes are intergenerationally transmitted through religious practices and mothers’ values about gender equality.

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  • Treas, Judith. “How Cohorts, Education, and Ideology Shaped a New Sexual Revolution on American Attitudes toward Nonmarital Sex, 1972–1998.” Sociological Perspectives 45.3 (2002): 267–283.

    DOI: 10.1525/sop.2002.45.3.267Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Treas considers the notion that the increased pervasiveness of certain values and ideologies may influence specific cohorts as well as the population more generally. She finds that there has been an incredible shift in attitudes toward homosexuality, but that period effects rather than cohort effects seem to be at the center.

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Political Behavior

The way people interact with the political system also seems to change over time, with various political generations being more or less likely to participate in certain ways (e.g., students who participated in the Civil Rights Movement, young people of color who are participating in Black Lives Matter organizations). Abramson 1974 examines how generational replacement transformed the relationship between partisanship and class. Schwadel and Stout 2012 and Zukin, et al. 2006 prompt scholars to consider the notion that young people may have a different configuration of attitudes and behaviors that scholars should be cognizant of moving forward. Firebaugh and Chen 1995 takes advantage of a natural experiment to discern the role of cohort effects on political behavior. Verba, et al. 2003 and Smets and Neundorf 2014 specifically consider differences in political participation across generations.

  • Abramson, Paul R. “Generational Change in American Electoral Behavior.” American Political Science Review 68.1 (1974): 93–105.

    DOI: 10.2307/1959744Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Abramson notes that the predictive power of class for partisanship seems to have declined over time; he suggests that this is largely because of a generational shift in partisan identity, with those of a particular cohort identifying as Democrats despite their middle-class status, a rarity at the time.

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  • Firebaugh, Glenn, and Kevin Chen. “Vote Turnout of Nineteenth Amendment Women: The Enduring Effect of Disenfranchisement.” American Journal of Sociology 100.4 (1995): 972–996.

    DOI: 10.1086/230606Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors take advantage of a natural experiment in an effort to disentangle age, period, and cohort effects. They use data that include a sizable number of women who were legally barred from voting to assess whether there are long-term effects of lower turnout among those women in comparison to those socialized after the implementation of the Nineteenth Amendment.

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  • Schwadel, Philip, and Michael Stout. “Age, Period and Cohort Effects on Social Capital.” Social Forces 91.1 (2012): 233–252.

    DOI: 10.1093/sf/sos062Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors seek to determine whether the ostensible decline in social capital is cohort specific or if there has been a cultural shift. The authors find a decline in some forms of social capital due to period and cohort effects, but also show that younger cohorts may have different ways of building social capital.

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  • Smets, Kaat, and Anja Neundorf. “The Hierarchies of Age-Period-Cohort Research: Political Context and the Development of Generational Turnout Patterns.” Electoral Studies 33 (2014): 41–51.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.electstud.2013.06.009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Employing hierarchical age-period-cohort (APC) models, the authors examine the determinants of inter- and intracohort differences in turnout.

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  • Twenge, Jean M., Nathan T. Carter, and W. Keith Campbell. “Time Period, Generational, and Age Differences in Tolerance for Controversial Beliefs and Lifestyles in the United States, 1972–2012.” Social Forces 94.1 (2015): 379–399.

    DOI: 10.1093/sf/sov050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors use hierarchical linear modeling analysis to disaggregate the effects of cohort and period effects on tolerance toward certain groups (e.g., communists, racists, LGBT+ people). They find that while cohort effects do some explanatory work, a cultural shift (period effects) seems to be a primary explanation.

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  • Verba, Sidney, Nancy Burns, and Kay Lehman Schlozman. “Unequal at the Starting Line: Creating Participatory Inequalities across Generations and among Groups.” American Sociologist 34.1–2 (2003): 45–69.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12108-003-1005-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    These scholars use the “generation” to mean place of lineage. They consider the notion that socioeconomic status is often intergenerationally transferred, and further that socioeconomics plays an important role in political participation. They find that inequality at the parents’ generation influences inequality during the children’s generation.

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  • Zukin, Cliff, Scott Keeter, Molly Andolina, Krista Jenkins, and Michael X. Delli Carpini. A New Engagement? Political Participation, Civic Life, and the Changing American Citizen. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195183177.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors claim that it is important to consider the myriad of ways that people participate in politics, and more importantly, to consider the fact that people of different generations may rely on some forms of political participation rather than others. They find that young people share the same basic principles but have an unusual combination of views: socially liberal, fiscally conservative.

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Second-Generation Immigrants

Typically, when scholars discuss “generations,” they are referring to a group whose members were born in the same birth year or a group that has experienced major political, social, or economic shocks at the same time and at the same points in their life cycle. Within the realm of racial and ethnic politics, “generation” is also a reference to one’s immigration status. Here, “generation” is more closely related to one’s position in family lineage. Generally, “first generation” refers to those who are foreign born. “Second generation” refers to people who are native born with foreign-born parents. Due to the Hart-Cellar Act of 1965, the United States’ demographic profile changed a great deal due to the increase of non-European immigration to the country. Works such as Alba 2005 and Kibria 2000 show that examining second-generation immigrants can tell us a great deal about the extent to which a society is inclusive. Portes and Zhou 1993 theorizes on what the potential outcomes for immigrants of color are, particularly as we move from one generation to the next, although many scholars disagree, such as Waldinger and Feliciano 2004. Branton 2007 provides an example of how generational status can influence one’s political outlook.

  • Alba, Richard. “Bright vs. Blurred Boundaries: Second-Generation Assimilation and Exclusion in France, Germany, and the United States.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 28.1 (2005): 20–49.

    DOI: 10.1080/0141987042000280003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Alba seeks to gain a better understanding of the determinants of second-generation immigrants’ successful integration into or exclusion from the mainstream society, with special consideration of the roles of race, citizenship, language, and religion.

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  • Branton, Regina. “Latino Attitudes toward Various Areas of Public Policy: The Importance of Acculturation.” Political Research Quarterly 60.2 (2007): 293–303.

    DOI: 10.1177/1065912907301983Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Branton summarizes much of the literature that reveals that acculturation influences Latinos’ immigration policy preferences. For her analysis, acculturation is measured by generational status and language competence; the results reveal that acculturation shapes Latinos’ attitudes, thereby suggesting that this group may see divisions by generational status.

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  • Kibria, Nazli. “Race, Ethnic Options, and Ethnic Binds: Identity Negotiations of Second-Generation Chinese and Korean Americans.” Sociological Perspectives 43.1 (2000): 77–95.

    DOI: 10.2307/1389783Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Kibria examines whether the extent to which people who are ascribed a racial identity identify with it. This is an important question because racial labels are often imposed on groups. Those who are socialized in the United States (second-generation immigrants) tend to have different understandings of race than first-generation immigrants.

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  • Portes, Alejandro, and Min Zhou. “The New Second Generation: Segmented Assimilation and Its Variants.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 530 (1993): 74–96.

    DOI: 10.1177/0002716293530001006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors consider the notion that immigrants of color are not likely to enjoy the same path of assimilation that European immigrants historically have. Instead, they suggest that there is the potential for some immigrants, particularly those second-generation immigrants who identify as black, to join an “underclass” rather than see upward mobility.

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  • Waldinger, Roger, and Cynthia Feliciano. “Will the New Second Generation Experience ‘Downward Assimilation’? Segmented Assimilation Re-assessed.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 27.3 (2004): 376–402.

    DOI: 10.1080/01491987042000189196Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Waldinger and Feliciano begin this article by summarizing the critiques of the theory in Portes and Zhou 1993; they follow with an empirical test of the hypothesis, focusing primarily on first- and second-generation Mexican immigrants, ultimately providing evidence against the theory.

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Generational Shifts in Black Politics

One of the major critiques of the political socialization literature is that is assumes that adults from all walks of life will share similar values and behaviors with their children, but even early research on school children threw light on the notion that children from low-strata groups were learning something different about American politics. The study of Black politics is premised upon the notion that people who are ascribed a Black identity and whose life chances are in part dictated by their racial group membership are likely to behave somewhat differently than Whites within the political realm. Scholars have tried to discern whether the change in the racial landscape over time has influenced the way that different cohorts of African Americans have taken to the American political system. Brown and Lasane-Brown 2006 and Nunnally 2010 shed light on racial socialization, or the lessons provided by parents/guardians to youth about what it means to be Black. Simpson 1998, Cohen 2010, Cose 2011, and Smith 2014 examine the similarities and differences in political attitudes and behaviors across generations. Gillespie 2010 examines generational differences among Black political leaders.

  • Brown, Tony N., and Chase L. Lasane-Brown. “Race Socialization Messages across Historical Time.” Social Psychology Quarterly 69.2 (2006): 201–213.

    DOI: 10.1177/019027250606900205Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rather than employing “traditional” generational groups (e.g., Silent, Boomer), the authors develop and analyze generational groups that are specific to the black American experience. Additionally, they consider how the messages about race that black guardians give to their children influence their political attitudes as adults.

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  • Cohen, Cathy J. Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    Cohen provides a close analysis of the way that young black people view themselves and the American political system in the 21st century.

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  • Cose, Ellis. The End of Anger: A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage. New York: Harper Collins, 2011.

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    This book can be likened to an update of Cose’s The Rage of a Privileged Class (New York: HarperCollins, 1993). In 1993, Cose found that middle-class blacks were especially upset about the role of race; this time around, the author finds that a new generation of well-to-do blacks feels empowered to play the game of race.

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  • Gillespie, Andra. Whose Black Politics? Cases in Post-Racial Black Leadership. New York: Routledge, 2010.

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    This edited volume gathers together a group of works that examines how a new generation of black political leaders navigates the American political scene. The introductory chapter characterizes several generational cohorts of black politicians, and the following chapters delve into analyzing the attitudes and behaviors of those politicians.

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  • Nunnally, Shayla C. “Learning Race, Socializing Blackness.” Du Bois 7.1 (2010): 185–217.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1742058X10000159Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Nunnally puts into conversation the literature on racial socialization, or the process by which people learn about their racial group’s status, and political socialization. This synthesis undergirds her analysis aimed to determine generational (and ethnic) differences in messages received about race.

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  • Simpson, Andrea. The Tie That Binds: Identity and Political Attitudes in the Post–Civil Rights Generation. New York: New York University Press, 1998.

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    Simpson considers the idea that as blacks get further away from the Jim Crow era and the civil rights movement, blacks in Generation X may use a different set of variables in their political decision-making calculus than their predecessors. She finds that the role of race in blacks’ lives across generations prevents major attitudinal differences from arising.

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  • Smith, Candis Watts. “Shifting from Structural to Individual Attributions of Black Disadvantage: Age, Period, and Cohort Effects on Black Explanations of Racial Disparities.” Journal of Black Studies 45.5 (2014): 432–452.

    DOI: 10.1177/0021934714534069Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using the age-period-cohort (APC) intrinsic estimator developed in Yang and Land 2013 (see Methodological Strategies and Approaches), Smith determines whether blacks’ increased reliance on individual explanations of racial disparities can be best explained by cohort or period effects; she finds that while there is a cohort effect, period effects do a great deal of the work in blacks’ shift toward more conservative racial attitudes.

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Comparative Studies

Questions concerning the “making of generations” become particularly important and interesting in non-American contexts. While the United States has seen a great many changes in social norms, values, and laws (e.g., civil rights movement, demographic dynamics), other countries have seen major shifts in the role and shape of governmental and economic institutions (e.g., postcommunism, democratization, capitalism). As such, both are important—understanding whether values are intergenerationally transmitted through preadult political socialization and then persist, and gaining an understanding of the role of generational replacement in the face of major changes in political, economic, and social values and institutions. Grasso 2014 and Pop-Eleches and Tucker 2014 present analytical tools for parsing out age, period, and cohort effects in a comparative context. Abramson and Inglehart 1992 provides an example of how generational change can influence societal values in various countries.

  • Abramson, Paul R., and Ronald Inglehart. “Generational Replacement and Value Change in Eight West European Societies.” British Journal of Political Science 22.2 (1992): 183–228.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0007123400006335Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors attempt to disaggregate age effects from cohort effects on the values of individuals across a number of countries, ultimately determining that generational replacement has been an important influence in shift in aggregate attitudes in most of the countries of their concern.

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  • Grasso, Maria T. “Age, Period and Cohort Analysis in a Comparative Context: Political Generations and Political Participation Repertoires in Western Europe.” Electoral Studies 33 (2014): 63–76.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.electstud.2013.06.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Grasso’s article is mostly an effort to provide some guidance to studying age-period-cohort (APC) effects comparatively or across countries. She provides a series of methodological tools, a theory of societal modernization account, and an empirical example to guide the reader.

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  • Pop-Eleches, Grigore, and Joshua A. Tucker. “Communist Socialization and Post-Communist Economic and Political Attitudes.” Electoral Studies 33 (2014): 77–89.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.electstud.2013.06.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors consider important questions of political socialization and development in a comparative context. Given that various countries experience different forms and manifestations of communism, the authors employ APC analysis to discern the effects of communism in several countries.

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Methodological Strategies and Approaches

Despite the recognition of the importance of generational change and cohort replacement, there are actually relatively few studies that make determinations about the role of generations in politics. One of the major reasons is because of the methodological challenge posed by the identification problem. Because Age = Period (year) − Cohort (birth year), one cannot include all three variables in an ordinary regression, thereby making it difficult to disentangle the three effects. Nonetheless, many have made an effort to overcome the challenge. Markus 1983 and Marwell, et al. 1987 are representative of early attempts made by scholars to do. However, with wide availability of panel and repeated cross-sectional surveys, such as the American National Election Study (cited under Data) and the General Social Survey (cited under Data) along with very sophisticated methodological tools, scholars like Yang Yang and Kenneth Land have developed a new method to simultaneously measure these effects (see Yang and Land 2013). Recently, the editors of Electoral Studies gathered together a series of articles aimed to tackle this problem: Bartels and Jackman 2014 and Dinas and Stoker 2014 were included; these articles present alternative methodological strategies to determine the role of cohort effects in politics.

  • Bartels, Larry M., and Simon Jackman. “A Generational Model of Political Learning.” Electoral Studies 33 (2014): 7–18.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.electstud.2013.06.004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors put Mannheim’s theory of generation in conversation with Bayesian learning models to (1) present an alternative to the age-period-cohort (APC) framework, which they view as atheoretical, (2) empirically determine whether people are equally responsive to new information at different points in their lives, and (3) uncover how and whether changes among many individuals in society might accumulate to shift aggregate political opinions—or partisanship, in this case—over time.

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  • Dinas, Elias, and Laura Stoker. “Age-Period-Cohort Analysis: A Design-Based Approach.” Electoral Studies 33 (2014): 28–40.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.electstud.2013.06.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Dinas and Stoker develop an alternative method to solving the identification program. Their approach can be likened to a natural experiment. This approach classifies individuals on two dimensions: belonging to the cohort or not, and being in a “treatment” or “control” group. Then they examine difference-in-difference to assess the effects of the treatment.

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  • Markus, Gregory B. “Dynamic Modeling of Cohort Change: The Case of Political Partisanship.” American Journal of Political Science 27.4 (1983): 717–739.

    DOI: 10.2307/2110890Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article does well to elaborate on the identification problem as well as summarize the approaches scholars have taken to solve this problem. He also takes issue with the idea that traditional APC approaches are atheoretical and static, although political attitudes and behaviors are not. He develops a potential solution.

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  • Marwell, Gerald, Michael T. Aiken, and N. J. Demerath. “The Persistence of Political Attitudes among 1960s Civil Rights Activists.” Public Opinion Quarterly 51.3 (1987): 359–375.

    DOI: 10.1086/269041Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The authors contribute to a debate concerning whether people’s political attitudes moderate over the life, or if individuals’ attitudes are best understood as a result of their generational socialization. They track the attitudes of a 145 white, civil rights activists over two decades in efforts to measure age effects. They conclude that even this method suffers from not being able to disentangle age effects from period effects.

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  • Ward, Dana. “Generations and the Expression of Symbolic Racism.” Political Psychology 6.1 (1985): 1–18.

    DOI: 10.2307/3791267Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Ward devises a qualitative methodological strategy to assess intergenerational transmission of values. The author interviews the sons of a sample of men who were interviewed two decades prior to assess the link between the fathers’ and sons’ racial attitudes.

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  • Yang, Yang, and Kenneth C. Land. Age-Period-Cohort Analysis: New Models, Methods, and Empirical Applications. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1201/b13902Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book represents the large body of work of Yang, Land, and their colleagues. These scholars have developed a sophisticated methodological strategy, which they call the intrinsic estimator, which allows one to disentangle the effects of age, period, and cohort.

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Data

One of the major challenges of research concerning generational changes is the availability of large-n, nationally representative longitudinal data. Two gold standards as far as data sets go are the American National Election Study (ANES) and the General Social Survey (GSS), although neither is without its flaws, particularly as they relate to the proportion of ethnoracial minorities that have been included in the surveys. Gallup and Pew Research Center are also two outlets that have some publically available data that would allow scholars to begin to make assessments about trends in reported political attitudes and behaviors. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the Bureau of Labor’s National Longitudinal Surveys follow various groups of respondents over time. The Black Youth Project (BYP) and Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) are two organizations that aim to keep track of the Millennial generation.

Contemporary Characterizations of Generational Cohorts

In addition to the scholarly research, think tanks and their research associates, journalists, and political commentators have analyzed the differences across generational groups. Pew Research Center 2010 and Taylor and Pew Research Center 2014 use large representative data to describe four living generations—the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. Stein 2013, Reeve 2013, Twenge 2014, and Bouie 2014 debate the issues of the day as they relate to the characterizations of the Millennial generation.

  • Bennett, Stephen E. “Why Young Americans Hate Politics, and What We Should Do About It.” PS: Political Science & Politics 30.1 (1997): 47–53.

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    Bennett describes young people’s attitudes at the time of his writing, noting that they tend to be incredibly cynical about American politics and have low levels of engagement and participation. While people at a young age tend to have low levels of participation, Bennett expresses special concern for this group.

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  • Bouie, Jamelle. “Why Do Millennials Not Understand Racism?” Slate, 16 May 2014.

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    Music Television (MTV) reported that the Millennial generation believes in colorblindness and celebrates diversity. Bouie, a cultural commentator and journalist, reinterprets the findings, illuminating the troubling contradictions of this generation’s racial attitudes.

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  • Holland, Cecelia. “I Don’t Trust Anyone under 30.” Saturday Evening Post, 10 August 1968: 10–12.

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    Writing at twenty-four years of age, Holland analyzes and criticizes her own generation, those now categorized as Baby Boomers. She describes those in the “Love Generation” and hippies as righteous but hypocrites, looking to be incredibly liberal but dogmatic to those viewed as different from them.

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  • Pew Research Center. Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next. Confident. Connected. Open to Change. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, 2010.

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    Although the title focuses on Millennials, those born between 1981 and 2000, this report is actually a portrait of four generational cohorts. The report seeks to capture each group’s priorities, intergroup attitudes, and values.

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  • Reeve, Elspeth. “Every Every Every Generation Has Been the Me Me Me Generation.” The Atlantic, 9 May 2013.

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    Stein 2013 sparked a large debate about the distinction between generations. Reeve represents one of the many responses to that article; here, the author put what seems like specific attitudes and outcomes of the Millennial generation in a larger historical context.

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  • Stein, Joel. “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation.” Time, 20 May 2013.

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    Although there was a great deal of response to this article, much of the commentary missed out on the nuances of the article. While Stein begins with characterizing the Millennial generation as entitled and narcissistic, he ends by illuminating some of the factors that may have lead to this, including parenting, as well what he views as positive aspects of the group.

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  • Taylor, Paul, and Pew Research Center. The Next America: Boomer, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown. New York: Public Affairs, 2014.

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    Using data collected by Pew, Taylor provides a deep description of the four living generations—the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials—as well as the political and policy problems presented by the elder groups that the younger groups will have to solve.

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  • Twenge, Jean M. Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before. Rev. ed. New York: Atria, 2014.

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    Twenge, a social psychologist, groups together Generation X and the Millennial generation under the moniker of Generation Me; she compares their attitudes about an array of social and political issues to those of the Boomer generation.

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