Millennials Still Taking Action for Social Change, Survey Finds

Millennials Still Taking Action for Social Change, Survey Finds

Although a majority of millennials are dissatisfied with or unsure about the direction the United States is headed in, they are taking action to work toward a bright future, a report from Achieve and the Case Foundation finds.

Based on a survey of three thousand millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) conducted in July and August, the 2017 Millennial Impact Report Phase 2: The Power of Voice: A New Era of Cause Activation and Social Issue Adoption found that only 29 percent of respondents believe the country is going in the right direction, while 39 percent said they believe it is going in the wrong direction and 32 percent were unsure. At the same time, while millennials' cause engagement overall remained steady from 2016, those who had been most passionate about causes and social issues increased their activity considerably. According to the report, within six months of the 2016 election, the cause or social issue of interest most commonly cited by respondents shifted from education to civil rights/racial discrimination. Survey respondents reported taking more direct, less muted action to make a positive impact — through both traditional channels, such as voting, signing a petition, and contacting their representatives, and newer ones, such as online activism.

The survey found that millennials believe that voting is important — with 65 percent voting in the 2016 election, compared with 55 percent for the general public — and that voting will lead to the change they wish to see (66 percent), is a form of activism (71 percent), and is the duty of every citizen (77 percent). Men (76 percent) were more likely than women (55 percent) to have voted in 2016, as were millennials above the age of 31 (75 percent) compared with those between the ages of 25 and 30 (69 percent) and between the ages of 18 and 24 (55 percent). When asked which of their typical actions would exert the most influence in effecting social change, respondents were more likely to choose signing a petition, attending a protest or rally/march, or voting than posting social media content.

The report also found that millennials were more likely to engage with local rather than national causes, that those who are nationally engaged also maintained their local activities, and that while many millennials do not call themselves activists, they are taking action regardless of whether they are directly affected by the issue.

"Findings from the latest Millennial Impact Report survey provide intriguing insights into the concerns of this important demographic have about the direction of the country is taking and the actions they are taking to inspire change," said Case Foundation CEO Jean Case. "This report highlights an environment where millennials combine traditional outlets for changemaking such as voting, petitioning, and contacting political representatives with newer outlets like social media and online activism, to change the way change is made."

"2017 Millennial Impact Report Phase 2: The Power of Voice: A New Era of Cause Activation and Social Issue Adoption." Millennial Impact Project Report 09/19/2017. "The 2017 Millennial Impact Report: Listening to and Learning fFrom 3,000 Millennials." Case Foundation Blog Post 09/19/2017. "Dissatisfied and Uncertain With America's Future, Millennial Generation Still Taking Action for Change." Millennial Impact Project Press Release 09/19/2017.