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A new conservative era?

A new study shows that the youth today are a lot more conservative than previous generations. So, are we entering a new conservative era?

  • Image Credit: Gulf News
  • Manal AnsariImage Credit: Supplied
  • John MathewImage Credit: Supplied
  • Rema MenonImage Credit: Supplied
  • Rema MenonImage Credit: Supplied
Gulf News

Today’s millennials are more politically polarised and likely to identify as conservative than previous generations, according to a study published in the US-based Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin last year. Another study published in 2014 by a financial services provider UBS discovered that the youth are much more prudent with their spending habits, having seen their parents suffer the consequences of a global recession. So, with governments across the world and the next generation of adults, all leaning to the right, are we entering a new conservative era? Gulf News readers debate.

Kicker: Explorers

Headline: A need for security does not make them averse to change

I don’t agree that millennials are more conservative. They don’t go for a traditional approach, their characteristics show that they are interested to take risks and judge whether their experiments in life and business yield results. Even if they have to spend for their dreams, they do not worry too much about tomorrow.

At the same time, they would like to see the value of what they do. They depend on technology to give them that awareness, whether it is through social media apps or other channels. Some of them would like to live it up and explore, embark on adventures, travel and meet people. Even in terms of their job, they are more oriented towards entrepreneurship, allowing other things to drive them. They would like to get their voices heard.

With more bridges built between corporates and academies through various associations within the UAE, industry support and platforms that help them achieve their professional and personal goals faster is possible. This is helping us develop a generation that is confident and innovative.

With regards to savings, they do demand some security and want to keep their future secure with all the financial crises they have observed. That is why entrepreneurship has picked up, especially in the UAE.

The earlier generations depended on traditional sources of income for a long time. On the other hand, I see millennials are much open to explore multiple opportunities and sources of incomes even as young students. They are definitely conscious about the value of money.

Since millennials are more likely to take charge of their lives, expenses and decisions, we see a huge growth in startups worldwide, showcasing their flexibility. They are willing to try on different roles and explore.

From Ms Manal Al Ansari

Innovation manager at a bank in Dubai

Kicker: Liberal

Headline: New recruits are more flexible with career choices

I work in the human resources sector, and in my experience I have seen a shift in the other direction. More than a few companies here, especially IT giants, are being forced to change their performance culture to suit the need of millennials.

They are scrapping the age-old performance management system, where you had to probably wait a whole year before you got to know how you are doing and receive rewards based on performance.

A study has found that the average millennial changes his or her job in one and a half to two years. This is not really great for a company in terms of retention of talent. To avoid turnover, they are being forced to change the system and sometimes an organisation shifts its whole philosophy to suit this workforce. In the long term, that is not very good for an organisation as they will probably be losing their original goals or aims. So, somebody needs to pause and work out a long-term approach: Should we really be tailoring our organisation to the needs of the workforce or should we be tailoring the workforce’s thought to be in line with our organisation’s?

Millennials are much more open-minded, they are ready to take risks, because from a career perspective they are at quite an early stage. Patience levels are lower, there is a willingness to make a quick buck and the concept of planting a seed and watching it grow over years does not work for them. The internet and increase in entrepreneurship and the whole concept of e-commerce, startups, accelerators and incubators is making it possible for them to achieve it. So, as far as work is concerned, there is a move towards a more open market.

From Dr Johh Mathew

Talent and learning and development manager in Dubai

Kicker: Mixed bag

Headline: We are more liberal, less tolerant

The non-political definition of the word conservative is “averse to change and holds traditional values”. I don’t think this is the case – every facet of daily life is questioned, be it race, gender, religion, political systems. No principles are above reproach. Every stereotype is rallied against on a regular basis, and the right to free speech is yelled from the rooftops till one’s voice has gone hoarse.

That hasn’t, however, made for a more tolerant society.

The idea of a topic being taboo has now shifted to the incessant need to be absolute and politically correct in every statement that is made. It is near impossible to have a civilised discourse on a topic of interest without spiralling into a vortex that ends in insult and mockery. I find this often to be the case, especially in the media. Depending on your views, you are surrounded by an echo chamber of sorts, where media channels constantly reinforce your ideas to the point where even mild dissent is taken as a personal affront. Polarisation and extremism on either ends of any issue make it difficult to express your opinion without fear of being ridiculed or oppressed – ironically the whole point of free speech.

Everyone has a right to their views, regardless of how much it contradicts yours. Alienating the opposition is ridiculous, in that it leaves no room for compromise and simply gives free rein to both sides who can go to any length to prove their point. It is evident in the highly divisive year of politics we have had, and is equally evident in its impact – extremist crime is on the rise, university campuses are less tolerant towards controversial guest speakers, and elections are driven by divisive campaigning rather than policies.

While we are less conservative in the fact that we have opened the floor to anything and everything, we are less tolerant in that we are unable to handle dissent constructively.

From Ms Nidhi Manojkumar

Student living in Abu Dhabi

Kicker: Tolerance

Headline: Millennials are showing more tolerance and inclusiveness

In this technology-driven age, information sharing has become a way of life. In my opinion, most millennials are not conservative but more open-minded and try to be inclusive. However, it is difficult to generalise because each individual comes with his or her own ideas, experiences, thoughts and learning.

I deal with children from varying financial strata, so when it comes to financial habits, what effects them is what is being presented at home and being discussed in terms of money management. For example, if a child is given limited pocket money, then they are naturally more careful in spending and tend to save for a rainy day. You will be surprised at how different the student’s perspective can be.

I don’t see a polarisation of views, I see people being more accepting, especially since they have lived here in the UAE and socialised with different cultures. Also, it has a lot to do with the UAE and the kind of tolerance that is shown. May be because of all of these factors, they internalise more tolerant behaviours. The same person may behave differently in another setup.

People are constantly exposed to information through various platforms, unlike previous generations. This makes them much more aware of the world be it from a political, financial, ecological or social perspective. The crises and the challenges we are going through, irrespective of geographic location, increasingly impact each and every one of us. Every social network, to a greater or lesser degree, is now a news platform.

Most people share pictures, inspirational stories, personal anecdotes, political opinion or satire and witty jokes on Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram or Snapchat. The obsession of wanting to look good due to today’s ‘selfie culture’ fosters discontentment in some people who think they are not good enough. I know students who deactivate their digital accounts because it bogs them down and in some cases, the posts make them feel isolated and disconnected in spite of all the connectivity!

From Ms Rema Menon V

Founder and director of a counselling centre based in Dubai

Have Your Say:

Have you noticed a trend towards conservative values among the youth when it comes to love, money and career?