Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Terry Weiner




theory, student, political, sixties, students


This thesis provides a literature review of the emergence, development, and decline of the American student movement of the sixties, and examines the emergence of student political activity by applying several political socialization theories. The theories that are proposed and discussed are: the generational conflict theory, the Parsons-Eisenstadt theory, Flacks’ socioeconomic theory, and Van Dyke’s cultural tradition theory. While these theories seek to explain the student movement of the sixties, Altbach’s “meism” theory, Howe and Strauss’s theory, and the “generation whatever” theory seek to explain contemporary student politics. This thesis discusses a case-study of Union College students in order to evaluate political socialization theories and to compare today’s student politics to the student politics of the sixties. The results of this study indicate that today’s students have more opportunities to express their political attitudes, and are more politically active than students of the sixties. However, although contemporary students are more politically active than the sixties generation, a mass demonstration has not emerged because contemporary students participate in political activities that comply with societal institutions and authority figures.