Politics and the economy are obviously of utmost concern when it comes to youth culture today, however what’s interesting is that the perceptions among 13-25-year-olds about the power of politicians. Fresh results from our upcoming Humanitarian Youth Culture Profile Report 2008, we asked thousands of 13-25-year-olds across the United States in a representative sample, “Which do you think can make a bigger difference in the world?” 66.6% overall said when given the choice, Regular People will make the most difference. This was followed by 22.7% who said Corporations, and only 10.5% who said Politicians (which was lower among males than females).
Interestingly, Barack Obama stated recently, “It’s time to make politicians relevant again and to make government important in the eyes of our nation.” Our results clearly indicate that this new generation of voters (and soon-to-be-voters) simply doesn’t think that politicians can make change in general and don’t trust that they will make a difference in their lives. The power of corporations is higher. And above all, this generation feels that it’s up to them, Regular People, to make the greatest difference in the world, which perpetuates the DIY-atribe or aesthetic of making things happen for yourself.
This DIY spirit of youth culture means a changing in spending patterns, such as buying to make a difference vs. general concepts of consumerism as in “just to have it” and changing dynamics of Success which now, according to our results, doesn’t necessarily mean having more money but “loving my job when I grow up” or “being happy with my family and friends” or “feeling good about myself.”
What’s also interesting in our results are when you measure this with the results to the question “Who do you think is the top Environmental or Humanitarian Hero?” to many young people, this top person has more influence on them than politicians, as well as celebrities in the traditional sense, and companies. As a philanthropic and environmentally conscious generation, top heroes in this genre are far more important than most people realize.
Overall, the results reveal that Al Gore is clearly #1, followed by Bono, which then drops to Angelina Jolie. Other people high on the radar include David Suzuki, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Oprah, Madonna, and Jesus Christ, in this order. What this indicates are the new heroes of a new generation. As for politicians, they have a long way to go to instill the trust lost 2 generations ago.