Society persists despite the mortality of its individual members, through process of demographic metabolism and particularly the annual infusion of birth cohorts. These may pose a threat to stability, but they also provide the opportunity for societal transformation.
When speaking about our research, we often face skeptics who ask, “Aren't Millennials the same as every other generation? Don't they challenge the status quo, push boundaries, and engage in an experimental lifestyle just as every generation did in its youth?”1 The answer to the second question is obviously “yes,” but that does not mean the answer to the first is too. Separating these two questions allows us to provide a useful response.
Sometimes the best answer to a question is another question. Think about this: Because of technology, Millennials are the first generation that does not need an authority figure to access information. Consequently, Millennials do not have a felt need to initiate a relationship with authority figures. Authority figures may be the last place a Millennial goes with a question. We believe the shift in behavior changes the dynamics of how Millennials relate to authority.
Before we make the argument for generational theory, it is important to entertain another explanation for how one's behavior and attitude are developed—maturational theory (the traditional belief that people ...