Generation Y, also known as ‘millennial’s’ are those born between 1982 and 2004. Although the delineation of who the term millennial is referring to varies, Howe and Strauss (2000) are customarily credited with coining the term and they suggest that they are born within these particular dates.
This is the generation that are renowned for having the least amount of interest in politics. Of course there are young people who have a genuine interest and are politically engaged but this doesn’t equate to the mass proportion of political conversation that takes place in the public sphere between older generations. Since public opinion is formed in the public sphere and politics is renowned for not having a major part in generation Y’s public sphere.. how is opinion formed? What is the future for politics?
A lot of people would argue that the reasoning behind little interest in politics for millennial’s is due to it being unrelatable a lot of the time as manifestos and policies rarely appeal to them, but, is this trend changing? Stats show that in 2015, 1 in 5 millennials had no interest whatsoever in politics but by 2017 this dropped to less than 1 in 10 stating they had no interest in politics. Could this be because of Brexit and the political agenda and personal appeal throughout the process? Many politicians across the globe are adopting mannerisms that make them more relatable to the young. Take Donald Trump; since his presidential campaign, there has been more interest in politics than ever before. Although a large factor for this is almost certainly due to his ludicrous statements and often outlandish behaviour, there has to be something said for his engagement through platforms such as twitter. If he didn’t make his opinions so public and abrupt, people would most likely not take as much of an interest in what was going on in American politics.
Politics may start to feature in our generations conversation more due to it becoming less of a trivial subject with the likes of celebrities such as Georgia Toffolo claiming their interest in the subject.
Politicians have began to make a point of talking about issues that directly affect the young. Topics such as tuition fees, housing, Brexit and immigration are all issues that were discussed and covered at great length throughout recent political events, such as the referendum and the general election. Young people relate to these issues as they directly impact them, whereas in previous years, factors were spoke about that were perhaps unrelatable to millennials.
With generation Y being the first generation to be less successful than our predecessors in terms of earning money, it’s important to get involved in politics and help mould the government that shapes the nation.
Rebecca Reid is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @Rebecca12reid and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-reid-64b580153/