1st Edition

The Political Voices of Generation Z

By Laurie Rice, Kenneth Moffett Copyright 2022
    318 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    318 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores political expression of members of Generation Z old enough to vote in 2018 and 2020 on issues and movements including MeToo, Supreme Court nominations, March for Our Lives, immigration and family separation, and Black Lives Matter. Since generational dividing lines blur, we study 18 to 25-year-olds, capturing the oldest members of Generation Z along with the youngest Millennials. They share similarities both in their place in the life cycle and experiences of potentially defining events. Through examining some movements led by young adults and others led by older generations, as well as issues with varying salience, core theories are tested in multiple contexts, showing that when young adults protest or post about movements they align with, they become mobilized to participate in other ways, too, including contacting elected officials, which heightens the likelihood of their voices being heard in the halls of power.Perfect for students and courses in a variety of departments at all levels, the book is also aimed at  readers curious about contemporary events and emerging political actors.

    List of Figures and Tables


    Chapter 1: Introduction: Why Young Adult Political Expression Deserves a Fresh Look

    Part I: Posting, Protesting, and Civic Engagement: Causes and Movements that Mobilized

    Chapter 2: The MeToo Movement: How an Online Social Movement Sparked Civic Engagement

    Chapter 3: Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett: How Controversial Supreme Court

    Nominations Provided Opportunities to Get Involved

    Chapter 4: School Shootings: How Gun Violence Encouraged Civic Involvement

    Chapter 5: Immigration and Family Separation: When Political Expression Fails to Expand Participation

    Chapter 6: Black Lives Matter: How a Surging Movement Engaged Young People in 2020

    Part II: Moving From the Outside In: The Link Between Posting and Protesting and Contacting Elected Officials

    Chapter 7: Messages Received? Examining the Link between Young Adults Posting Political Views

    Online and Sharing Views with Elected Officials

    Chapter 8: Discontent Heard? Examining the Link between Young Adults Engaging in Protests and Sharing Views with Elected Officials

    Chapter 9: Conclusion: Assessing Young Adult Political Power


    Laurie L. Rice is Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Her research interests include political communication, the presidency, elections, social media, and civic engagement. She is co-author of Web 2.0 and the Political Mobilization of College Students and co-editor of American Political Parties Under Pressure. Her work has appeared in journals such as Presidential Studies Quarterly, Social Science Computer Review, and Journal of Information Technology and Politics. She provides expertise to regional, national, and international media on on elections, social media, and the presidency and has written pieces for The Hill, The Huffington Post, and the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

    Kenneth W. Moffett is Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His research interests lie in American politics and policy. He is coauthor of Web 2.0 and the Political Mobilization of College Students, and specializes in American politics and policy. His work has appeared in the Journal of Information Technology and Politics, Social Science Computer Review, Party Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Congress and the Presidency, and other outlets. He has also written essays that have appeared in The Hill, The Huffington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog.

    Praise for The Political Voices of Generation Z

    "In this meticulously researched book, Rice and Moffett firmly challenge the view that young Americans are politically disengaged by charting how Generation Z has found its political voice amidst rapid technological change and the political upheaval of the Trump presidency. This book not only explores how young people participated in breakout movements such as March for Our Lives, Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo, but it also shows how this generation moves deftly between voicing opinions on social media and engaging with policy-makers, marking online political expression as a key conduit for political socialization and impactful engagement. Given Generation Z’s surging participation and political realignment along age rather than ideological fault lines on long-term issues such as the climate crisis, this book is essential reading to understand the future of American politics."

    --Filippo Trevisan, American University, USA

    "The Political Voices of Generation Z provides a much-needed examination of the issues that sparked youth political engagement resulting in the highest levels of political activism the U.S. has seen in decades. Rejecting the simplistic notion that youth political engagement was merely a reaction to the Trump presidency, the authors explore the relationship between online activity and offline civic engagement, providing a compelling narrative of the ways that key issues caused young people to find their own political voice. This book sheds new light on the headline issues shaping youth political engagement, providing new 2018 and 2020 data to better understand the factors that shape youth engagement. The authors combine a careful consideration of various theoretical perspectives with empirical analysis to help readers understand the dynamics of young adult political behavior – a phenomenon that will shape our collective future for many years to come."

    --Elizabeth A. Bennion, Indiana University--South Bend, USA

    "I recommend this book for anyone interested in the political views and behavior of Gen Z or in the connection among online posting, protests, and more traditional forms of political and civic activity. I particularly recommend that individuals teaching undergraduate courses in political activism or behavior consider this text. Each chapter offers a brief overview of a contemporary political issue under consideration while also offering insight into how political science as a discipline can provide a framework for understanding individual views of, and activism surrounding, those issues from the standpoint of Gen Z."

     --Allison D. Rank, SUNY Oswego, USA  Perspectives on Politics, 20(2)

    Rice and Moffett (both, Southern Illinois Univ., Edwardsville) explore the online and offline political activity of young adults in the US. They push back against the popular narrative that Generation Z is disengaged from politics or merely engaged in slacktivism. Using two large Amazon Mechanical Turk surveys fielded the day after the November elections in 2018 and 2020, they study links between Generation Z's reported concern with and their reported activities related to a highly relevant set of issues: #MeToo, the nominations of Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, gun violence and school shootings, immigration and border control, and #BlackLivesMatter. For each topic, the authors use matching analyses to investigate the connections between posting on social media, participating in protests, and contacting elected officials. The structure of the book is conducive to excerpting: each chapter—focused on one of the issues or on contacting government officials—includes descriptions of the surveys, the matching technique, relevant theories, current events, findings, and conclusions. The book is sure to spark productive classroom conversations about the power of Generation Z and the usefulness of posting online, protesting, and contacting elected officials on issues that matter to them.

    --M. R. Michelson, Menlo College