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Generations and Politics

Generations and Politics: A Panel Study of Young Adults and Their Parents

M. Kent Jennings
Richard G. Niemi
Copyright Date: 1981
Pages: 428
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  • Book Info
    Generations and Politics
    Book Description:

    Kent Jennings and Richard Nieini arc recognized widely for their 1965 study of the development of political attitudes and behavior among a large, nationally representative sample of high school seniors and their parents (The Political Character of Adolescence, Princeton). Now they present the results of a follow-up study of these same individuals in 1973 along with a fresh study of 1973 high school seniors. Spanning a dramatic eight-year historical period and an important transitional phase in the life cycle of the younger generation, this material provides a unique opportunity to assess the development of political attitudes and participation.

    Originally published in 1981.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5426-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
    (pp. vi-vii)
    (pp. viii-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. CHAPTER ONE The Study of Persistence and Change
    (pp. 3-18)

    Change and continuity are inevitable partners and competitors in political life. Whether the object of attention is the international system, the nation-state, political groups, or the individual, it is essential to chart and understand the forces of change and continuity at work. These forces are often in a state of tension. Established patterns are customarily not easily displaced even in the face of consummate failure. Yet new ways of doing things, new perspectives, and new ideologies go searching for ostensible malfunctions in the political world. At the same time, these elements of conflict are often counterbalanced by complementarity. Old patterns...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Persistence at the Individual Level: Involvement, Resources, and Participation
    (pp. 19-47)

    In this and the following chapter we focus on individual stability across the eight years encompassed by our study. Our attention is directed not so much to what kind of change occurred as to how much occurred and how it was distributed by generation and by subject matter. We begin the present chapter with a discussion of some prominent models of persistence, models that will guide our interpretation and understanding of the findings. Substantively, this chapter deals primarily with variables that attempt to index the individual’s psychological involvement in the political sphere and the kinds of political skills and attributes...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Persistence at the Individual Level: Political Preferences and Attitudes
    (pp. 48-75)

    In this chapter we will take up several types of variables that have rested at the heart of the controversy about the stability of political orientations. We begin with partisanship, move on to issues of public policy, and then to evaluations applied to actors in the governmental process. In an effort to draw larger generalizations about stability over time and across generations we shall also introduce a number of nonpolitical dimensions. Finally, we shall provide an overall summary and evaluation of the materials covered in this and the preceding chapter.

    One of the strongest arguments traditionally used to support the...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Dynamics of Family Transmission
    (pp. 76-114)

    Our earlier work with the 1965 wave concentrated heavily on the parent-offspring pairs generated by the study design. In part we used these pairs to explore generational differences and life-cycle development. But the main way in which we used the pair data was to analyze intensively the place of the family as an agent of socialization. Because of the presence of information on other sources of socialization we were also able to assess the relative place of parents vis-à-vis other agents. And because we had a subsample containing information for both mother and father we were able to talk about...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Continuity and Change at the Aggregate Level: Involvement, Resources, and Participation
    (pp. 115-151)

    Our focus in the three previous chapters has been at the individual level. One of the great advantages of the panel design is that it permits exactly the sort of comparisons that we have made of the same individuals and parent-child pairs over a period of time, thereby enhancing our understanding of how political life unfolds across time, generations, and the life cycle. Any good understanding of these processes must ultimately be able to draw on what is occurring at the micro level. From another perspective, though, it is vital to know the net results of the stabilities and instabilities...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Continuity and Change at the Aggregate Level: Political Preferences and Attitudes
    (pp. 152-189)

    For a variety of reasons the 1965-1973 period witnessed a number of clashes between representatives of the younger and older cohorts. These years abounded in contrasting definitions of the political order, opinions on issues of the day, and perceptions about how and by whom policy should be made. Some of the differences involved new items on the public agenda, others had a longer history. Thus materials dealing with such topics as partisanship and voting, a variety of public issues, and evaluations of actors in the governmental process are available for over-time analysis, and will be dealt with in this chapter....

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN The Identification of Generations: Cohort versus Panel Change
    (pp. 190-229)

    In the two previous chapters we utilized panel data from the two generations to explore questions of aggregate change and continuity. Three major processes were observed: historical or period effects which seem to be operating on both the older and younger generations, generation effects which appear to be distinguishing the two generations, and life-cycle effects which presumably characterize each generation as it ages. While such effects were sometimes relatively pure, as in the case of political trust, there were other instances where hybrid models applied or where interpretation remained ambiguous.

    Particularly vexing was the problem of trying to distinguish between...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT The Prominence of Educational Stratification
    (pp. 230-270)

    Of all the demographic characteristics used to account for and specify the distribution of political attitudes and behaviors, none is so pervasive as education. Virtually every major study of American public opinion, electoral behavior, and political participation has devoted at least some energy to pointing out the relationship between level of formal schooling and various attributes. The broad contours of these relationships are well known. In general, the more durable and widespread correlates of education lie in the field of political participation and its preconditions. Psychological involvement in politics, political resources, and a great deal of political activity vary with...

  14. CHAPTER NINE Sex, Gender Roles, and the Challenge to Tradition
    (pp. 271-305)

    Along with religion and politics, sex serves as a major topic of conversation and controversy in everyday lives as well as a major demarcator of status. In the United States the three topics have often been linked to each other, perhaps never more so than in the period marked by the contemporary women’s liberation movement. Traditional prescriptions about the roles of women (and men) in society, anchored in part by religious and quasi-religious values and by political and legal practices, have been severely challenged. The long list of feminist grievances and the attempts to redress them have inevitably become part...

  15. CHAPTER TEN Race Comparisons in an Era of Change
    (pp. 306-330)

    If the multiplicity of forces at work complicated our sex and gender role comparisons, the same is true to an even greater extent in the case of racial comparisons. Momentous historic events, frequent generational cleavages, as well as the ever-present individual aging process all came together in the’ 1960s and early 1970s to affect racially related phenomena in a fashion seldom paralleled in American history. These circumstances resulted in an enormous investment in race-related studies, including many devoted to the politics of race. While some things became clear—the tremendous increase in blacks’ political cynicism, for example—much remains unaddressed...

  16. CHAPTER ELEVEN Protest Behavior and Its Legacy
    (pp. 331-379)

    Even a cursory recollection of the late 1960s and early 1970s brings to mind sharp images of student protests. Marches, rallies, sit-ins, boycotts, picket lines, pitched confrontations with authorities, and physical violence wracked the nation. Although the civil rights and “free speech” movements were critical immediate predecessors, and even though other objects of protest emerged, the issue that triggered so much of the student protest behavior was the Vietnam War. Protest often took the form of individual acts, such as various forms of draft evasion. More dramatic were the forms of collective, public protest. Collective behavior of an unconventional sort...

  17. CHAPTER TWELVE Conclusion: Interpretation of a Half-Empty Glass
    (pp. 380-392)

    Throughout this work our focus has been on the twin concepts of stability and change. Even a cursory glance at our results, however, leads to a perplexing observation: both change and stability abound. What, then, are we to conclude—merely that adults are subject to both or simply that sometimes one predominates and sometimes the other? In one sense this is exactly what we can conclude. In any given era with any large and diverse population, moderate stability is likely to characterize most of the population on most political attributes. Pockets of instability will exist, both in the sense of...

  18. APPENDIX A Data Sources
    (pp. 393-403)
  19. APPENDIX B Description of Basic Measures and Their Distributions for Youths and Parents, 1965 and 1973
    (pp. 404-420)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 421-427)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 428-428)