Generational Politics in the United States

From the Silents to Gen Z and Beyond

Subjects: Political Science, American Politics, Political Behavior and Public Opinion, Political Communication
Open Access : 9780472904440, 454 pages, 62 figures, 38 tables, 6 x 9, June 2024
Paperback : 9780472056767, 454 pages, 62 figures, 38 tables, 6 x 9, June 2024
Hardcover : 9780472076765, 454 pages, 62 figures, 38 tables, 6 x 9, June 2024
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How generational change impacts the future of American politics

Table of contents


Part I: Foundations
Chapter 1: Generations, Politics, and Political Science
by David Schultz
Chapter 2: Generational Change in Partisanship - An Age-Period-Cohort Accounting
By Laura Stoker
Chapter 3. Collective Memory and the Pandemic Emergence of Generation Z
By Scott L. McClean

Part II: Attitudes and Opinions.
Chapter 4. Generational Divides, Changing Times, or Aging? Examining Immigration. Opinion in the U.S., 2004-2018
By Jeffrey C. Dixon, Andrew S. Fullerton, and Victoria Nash
Chapter 5. Generational attitudes toward drug policies in the United States
By Leah Hutton Blumenfeld
Chapter 6. Gender and the Generations: You Haven’t Come a Long Way Yet, Baby
By Whitney Ross Manzo and David B. McLennan
 Chapter 7. What American Heroism Teaches Us About Generations and Politics
By Bruce Peabody

Part III: Participation and Political Engagement
Chapter 8. “The Times They are a Changin’”: Generational Comparisons of the Civil Rights Movement with the Current-Day Climate Movement
By Robin Boyle Laisure
Chapter 9. Building Youthful Habits of Voting
By Niall Michelsen
Chapter 10. Presidential Candidates on Campus and Civic Engagement among College Students
By Kenneth Moffet and Laurie Rice

Part IV: Impact
Chapter 11. Millennial Generation Political Engagement – Democratically Motivated or Disenchanted? Insights from the 2020 Election
By Ashley D. Ross and Stella M. Rouse
Chapter 12. Generational Shifts Change Politics in Florida
By Susan A. MacManus and Anthony A. Cilluffo 
Chapter 13. How They Govern: Do Millennial Mayors Bring a Generational Perspective to Their Activities
By Sally Friedman, Michael Armato and Emily Matott  
Chapter 14. The Language of Representation: How Millennial and Non-Millennial Legislators Present Themselves to Constituents
By Sally Friedman, Emily Matott and Andrew McMahon


The role of generations is an important, yet often overlooked, variable in the study of American politics. A topic of research in sociology, business, and marketing, the focus on generations frequently occurs in American pop culture and journalism. The general public often assumes that different generations have different political leanings and beliefs—that the Silent Generation is all Republican, white, and conservative, or that Millennials are liberal and diverse—but are these assumptions true?

Generational Politics in the United States is the first comprehensive book that examines the concept of generations from a political science perspective. It defines what a generation is and how to sort out the differences between life cycle, cohort, and aging effect. The book then brings together chapters from an array of political science scholars that examine the role of generations in American politics and how it relates to other variables such as age, race, gender, and socioeconomic status. It discusses how politics in the United States are impacted by changes in generations, including how the passing of the Baby Boom generation and rise of the Millennials and Gen Z will change American politics. By examining the differences in political attitudes, engagement, and impact of recent generations, Generational Politics in the United States suggests how generational change will impact American politics in the future.

Sally Friedman is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany.
David Schultz is Hamline University Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Legal Studies, and Environmental Studies and Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota.

“The topic of political generations in the United States continues to be intriguing and perplexing. This edited volume based on original research from a wide variety of scholars, represents a fresh, valuable contribution to the subject. With an unusual degree of continuity across chapters, the volume’s especially strong, distinctive features include applications of the generational approach to an array of contemporary political issues and behaviors rather than to a single one; innovative attention to potential generational effects at both the mass and elite levels; an instructive, rare mix of methodologies applied to this topic; and some appreciation for historical comparison.”

- Kent Jennings, University of Michigan and University of California Santa Barbara

“This volume reopens the question of generational impact on political behavior and provides some direction for future research.”

- John J. McGlennon, College of William & Mary

“A substantive, thoughtful collection that examines whether generations ‘matter’ to American politics in the sense of having an impact beyond age alone. This will be a useful resource for the profession and beyond.”

- Shauna L. Shames, Rutgers University in Camden

“What’s in a generation? How do we know when a new one begins, while an old one ends? While fundamental for our understanding of how social change takes place, these questions have long haunted students of political socialization due to the inherent conceptual and methodological ambiguities surrounding the notion of a generation. Generational Politics in the United States is a game changer in this field, as it brings together an eclectic set of leading scholars who shed brand new light on these questions. The book clears the scene both in terms of how we should define generations and in terms of how we should go about detecting them empirically. Going beyond public opinion to also explore how generations manifest themselves within elite behavior, this book is bound to be a cornerstone in the study of generational politics and political socialization, shaping the discourse for years to come.”

- Elias Dinas, European University Institute

Read: Blog Post from David Schultz | June 13, 2024