Trend Analysis Reports
Emerging Culture Challenges
Culture wars between the traditional and modern world views have defined the mental landscape for centuries. At the dawn of the 21st Century a third world view is emerging, and already one in four Americans share its perspective.
While no more than 5% of Americans shared the passions of the youth rebellion of the 1960's, still the civil rights, environmental and peace movements of that decade have left a deep imprint on emerging ways of thinking. Since the 1960's the nation has changed dramatically. In terms of politics and economics, it has become more conservative. At the same time, the culture has become less conservative and more diverse. The anti-establishment sentiments of the 1960's have seeped into every aspect of popular culture. In fact, much of conservative politics today is built on these sentiments!
It is much harder today to pigeonhole individuals as either "liberal" or "conservative." A more accurate map of American attitudes includes these three segments:
1. Traditionalists make up about 29% of the population (about 56 million adults) and are declining in number. They long for a return to a simpler, old-fashioned way of life. They tend to be suspicious of change. They are often religious and idealize the small-town America of a century ago. Individuals who are retired, from low-income households, belong to labor unions and vote with the Christian right-wing are more likely to fall into this category.
2. Modernists include 47% of the population, a stable number totaling about 88 million adults. This is the main stream of American life today. These people place high value on personal success, consumerism, materialism, science and technology. They are conservative on economics, but not on social issues. They tend to like the world as it is and believe that history is on the right track. More men than women fall into this category, as do most of the influential people in our society; scientists, military commanders, politicians, writers and media producers.
3. Cutural Creatives is the term being used to identify the new, emerging segment, which is currently about 24% of the population (about 45 million adults) and the only one of the three groups which is growing. This segment is more altruistic, more global in its perspective, and more interested in having unique experiences than in acquiring possessions. They are found in all generations-age is not an indicator. About 60% are women and they are more likely to live on the West Coast. Most live in middle and upper-middle income households and are more likely than the other segments to have a college education. They are information junkies, appreciate a good story, and seek to understand the big picture. They buy more books and magazines, listen to more radio and less TV than average. They buy lots of personal growth experiences such as spiritual retreats and workshops on stress or relationships. They provide the core market for vegetarian, natural, organic, gourmet and ethnic foods, as well as alternative health care. This segment is less likely than modernists to be technologically oriented, but they are on the leading edge of cultural change, writing books and articles, and participating in the arts.
In the early 1980's, future studies by Alvin Toeffler, John Naisbitt and Marilyn Ferguson all predicted the emergence of this new viewpoint as a significant percentage of the population. Now it has become a reality which marketing firms and the public media cannot ignore. One indicator of this change-the far greater availability of vegetarian food in restaurants than even 10 or 20 years ago.
Some important questions for the Adventist Church: Our public evangelism appeals largely to the Traditionalist mind. We have never really learned to evangelize the mainstream Modernist sector. Now, we are confronted with this new segment. How will we learn to evangelize the Cultural Creatives?
Should we learn to evangelize the Modernists or simply abandon them? How will we deal with these segments within the Church? Is there room for Modernist and Cultural Creative congregations alongside our largely Traditionalist congregations? Can the Adventist message be proclaimed and understood only within the Traditionalist mind set, or is it larger than these human perspectives and capable of cross-cultural transmission?
Trend Analysis Report (2000) Source: The Integral Culture Study by Paul H. Ray, American Lives, Inc.