by Scott Keeter and Paul Taylor
Generations, like people, have personalities. Their collective identities typically begin to reveal themselves when their oldest members move into their teens and twenties and begin to act upon their values, attitudes and worldviews.
America’s newest generation, the Millennials,1 is in the middle of this coming-of-age phase of its life cycle. Its oldest members are approaching age 30; its youngest are approaching adolescence.
Who are they? How are they different from — and similar to — their parents? How is their moment in history shaping them? And how might they, in turn, reshape America in the decades ahead?
The Pew Research Center will try to answer these questions through a yearlong series of original reports that explore the behaviors, values and opinions of today’s teens and twenty-somethings.
Even without further research, we already know a few big things about the Millennials.
- They are the most ethnically and racially diverse cohort of youth in the nation’s history. Among those ages 13 to 29: 18.5% are Hispanic; 14.2% are black; 4.3% are Asian; 3.2% are mixed race or other; and 59.8%, a record low, are white.
- They are starting out as the most politically progressive age group in modern history. In the 2008 election, Millennials voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by 66%-32%, while adults ages 30 and over split their votes 50%-49%. In the four decades since the development of Election Day exit polling, this is the largest gap ever seen in a presidential election between the votes of those under and over age 30.
- They are the first generation in human history who regard behaviors like tweeting and texting, along with websites like Facebook, YouTube, Google and Wikipedia, not as astonishing innovations of the digital era, but as everyday parts of their social lives and their search for understanding.
- They are the least religiously observant youths since survey research began charting religious behavior.
- They are more inclined toward trust in institutions than were either of their two predecessor generations — Gen Xers (who are now ages 30 to 45) and Baby Boomers (now ages 46 to 64) when they were coming of age.
That was five years ago. This is a pivotal group that we need to talk with… to have consensus with… and collaborate with… to improve “theatre company” marketing with social media and technical delivery innovations.
Production content in our advanced discussions with various audiences should maximize or seek to bridge values; explore popular scripts; and entertainment and humanities standards for active individuals and families who pay for performing arts and educational/training experiences. The nomenclature of the Millennials are a “hot” topic these days. They are playwrights, dramaturgs, artists, techies, producers and patrons of Black Theatre.
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