An Exploratory Comparison between Student Activists of the 1960s and Today
Though few researchers have investigated current left-wing student activists, extensive studies have explored activists of the 1960s (e.g., Jennings, 1987; Keniston, 1968). Jennings determined that activist identities formed during late adolescence and a political mellowing occurred during adulthood. Keniston determined that activists of the 1960s displayed a high degree of moral inclination and cognizance of social issues from an early age. Moreover, he discovered that the activists remembered their first experience with inequality as highly influential. In the present study, it was hypothesized that in both generations (1) activists came from liberal households and (2) activism began during adolescence. Moreover, it was hypothesized (3) that a political mellowing occurred in the older activists. Results disprove hypothesis 3, and neither fully support nor disprove hypotheses 1 or 2. Various trends were identified including an emphasis on an "awakening" moment and of feeling like an outsider during adolescence. A discontinuity was distinguished between the generations in their discussion of activism, with the older generation using war metaphors and the younger generation valuing open dialogue.