Gen Z & Politics: Political Engagement & Views of the Next Generation
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As the world evolves, so does the political landscape, and the emergence of Generation Z, brings forth a new wave of political engagement and fresh perspectives.
In this article, the second of a three-part series on Gen Z, we will delve into the intriguing dynamics of Gen Z's political views, engagement, and participation.
From their early exposure to political issues to their active role in grassroots activism and social movements, we'll explore the factors shaping Gen Z's political leanings and the impact they have on the ever-evolving political landscape. So, join us as we unravel the intriguing world of Gen Z in politics and gain insights into the political views, affiliations, and potential of this dynamic generation.
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Understanding Gen Z
Born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, Generation Z already makes up around 20% of the UK population.
Many have just started getting into politics only recently, therefore understanding the key defining characteristics and values of Gen Z is crucial to comprehending their political views and engagement.
Gen Z is known for their strong belief in social justice, equality, and inclusivity, moreover, their political leanings are greatly influenced by technological advancements and the widespread use of social media platforms.
Gen Z's political awareness and activism are fueled by their ability to connect, organise, and express their views online, amplifying their voices and facilitating collective action.
As Generation Z continues to grow in influence and reshape the political landscape, embracing their unique perspectives and harnessing their passion for positive change will be essential for a more inclusive and responsive political future.
Is Gen Z interested in politics?
Insights from the recent Teengeist report provide valuable insights into Generation Z's political engagement.
The findings reveal that slightly half of Gen Z (50%) express a moderate to high interest in political matters, indicating a notable portion of the generation that actively engages with politics. However, the remaining Gen Z appear to be less interested or invested in political affairs.
Furthermore, only 26% consider their involvement in politics to be of significant importance.
The reasons behind the lower percentage of Gen Z considering their involvement in politics as important can be complex and multifaceted, shaped by a combination of societal, cultural, and personal factors, but we could attempt to understand this low involvement.
- Politics doesn’t care about the issues Gen Z have at heart
One first possible reason is the perceived disconnect between political institutions and the issues that matter most to Gen Z.
They may feel that traditional political systems are slow to address urgent concerns such as climate change, social justice, and equality. This disillusionment with the political system and a perceived lack of responsiveness from politicians can lead to a diminished sense of importance in engaging with politics.
- A constant stream of (bad) news
Secondly, the overwhelming amount of information available in the digital age can be overwhelming and potentially disheartening.
Gen Z is exposed to a constant stream of news, social media discussions, and diverse opinions, which can lead to a sense of information overload.
Furthermore, news is mainly negatively connotated, as shown by 2001 research paper “Bad is stronger than good”, so it’s no wonder Gen Z is left feeling discouraged and disheartened when they are constantly bombarded with everything that’s wrong in the world.
- Politics is not everything
Additionally, Gen Z's priorities and concerns may extend beyond traditional political structures. They often prioritise grassroots activism, community engagement, and direct action as means of effecting change.
This focus on more immediate and tangible impact, rather than traditional political processes, may contribute to a perception that personal involvement in formal politics is less important.
How does Gen Z feel about politics?
The Appinio Teengeist Report reveals that a significant portion of Gen Z feels dissatisfied with the political system and politicians in their respective countries.
In fact, 40% express (high) dissatisfaction with the political system, and an even higher percentage of them (48%) feel (very) dissatisfied with the politicians themselves.
These numbers shed light on the prevailing disillusionment among Gen Z regarding the current political landscape.
The next general election in the UK is to be held in January 2025, so we won’t be able to grasp how many and how Gen Z will vote.
But Gen Z's political engagement extends beyond voting and encompasses active involvement in grassroots activism and social movements. They are often at the forefront of advocating for change, championing causes such as climate action, racial justice, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ rights.
These statistics underscore the need to examine the factors that shape Gen Z's political leanings, such as their concerns, aspirations, and desire for meaningful representation.
Gen Z's priorities and concerns
The Appinio Teengeist Report shed light on the topics that hold great importance for this generation.
Health policies and reforms emerge as a top priority, with a staggering 72% of Gen Z considering it to be of utmost significance. Interestingly, women show a higher inclination towards health policies, with 76% recognizing its importance compared to 69% of men.
Education policies closely follow, with 68% of Gen Z emphasising the need for reform and improvement in the educational system.
Climate protection also garners significant attention, with 63% of British Gen Z expressing concern about environmental sustainability and climate change.
Additionally, equality and equal rights rank high on the list of priorities for Gen Z, particularly among women, with 67% stressing their significance compared to 44% of men.
With many countries introducing new rules that greatly affect women's bodily autonomy and reproductive health, it’s no surprise that women feel more strongly than men about equality and equal rights.
These priorities demonstrate the strong commitment of Gen Z towards social justice and inclusivity, with equality featuring prominently alongside health and education as key areas of focus.
How Gen Z can change politics
Gen Z feels politics and politicians don’t care about them, a mere 17% of Gen Z agree with the statement that politicians genuinely care about the opinions of their generation.
But social media platforms have become powerful tools for Gen Z's political engagement, not only allowing them to express their views, mobilise support, and amplify their voices on a global scale, but as a source of information.
Political activism among Gen Z has led to the emergence of new political movements, such as Fridays for Future or Extinction Rebellion, that have successfully raised awareness about issues such as climate change.
In conclusion, Generation Z is poised to make a significant impact on the political landscape. With their strong values of social justice, equality, and inclusivity, Gen Z is actively engaging in politics, advocating for change, and using social media platforms to amplify their voices.
While they face challenges and dissatisfaction with the current political system, Gen Z's priorities and concerns, such as health, education, and climate change, reflect their aspirations for a better future. By overcoming barriers and actively participating in the political process, Gen Z has the potential to shape the future of politics and create meaningful change.
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