Generation Z engages politically
Youth culture has long been considered a politics-free zone, but now Generation Z is joining its predecessors in taking to the streets. Are we witnessing the political awakening of young people?
It's a familiar cliché: Young people have no interest in politics. They would rather spend hours on Instagram, focus on self-improvement at the gym or hang out smoking cigarettes at a small-town train station. So why are news broadcasts full of images of young people waving protest banners? Are we seeing a new generation of political activists?
Elders outvote the youth
It is not true that the young have no voice in the political process. Yet it is true that young people's views on specific decisions often fail to make a difference – because they are routinely outvoted by their elders. For example, the majority of young people voted for the opposite outcome in the Brexit referendum.
No for organizations, yes for demonstrations
Interestingly, research shows that young people are not eager to commit themselves to participation in traditional institutions. Only 26 percent of 15- to 25-year-olds in Switzerland can see themselves becoming involved in a political party or its youth organization. However, 40 percent are willing to demonstrate for an issue they consider important.
Angry Generation Z
Generation Z take action when they are outraged, when they feel personally affected or when they feel robbed of their future and their freedoms by the adult generation that is currently in power. More and more, young people are calling public attention to the issues they care about, insisting that their demands are met. Recently, a broad-based youth movement focusing on the issue of climate change is having an impact on the media and the political sphere.
A political generation
Politics is a cyclical business, with thematic cycles as well as cycles of mobilization. The issues at the forefront today speak to the concerns of the youth movements, since people feel personally affected; those issues include gender equality, social justice and climate issues.
Since the foundation for a generation's political awareness is laid in its formative years, we can expect Generation Z to be a political generation. Both Angry societies and Millennials' values, two of our multiyear investment Supertrends, address the topic of Generation Z's frustrations and try to forecast the potential investment opportunities it may bring about.