Rioting in England and flash mob violence in Philly have prompted the usual questions about why people are taking to the streets. Regardless of whether you consider it a response to political neglect or simply a display of anti-social opportunism, there is an interesting psychological dynamic that might be at play among teens and young adults.
Many social critics have observed that today’s kids face the prospect they won’t financially outperform their parents. That probably won’t be the case for Latino youth, who will typically have higher education levels than their parents. However, for those native born, they might have to come to terms with a lower standard of living than their parents. The promise of upward economic mobility has been a huge motivating factor for Americans.
How will “Generation Vexed,” as the Los Angeles Times calls them, handle this potential lack of progress? Will accomplishment be re-defined away from income? Will fewer economic opportunities lead to increasing frustration and violence?