Supporting Humanitarian Intervention: The Influence of Age and Generation on Public Opinion
Mentor:Ann Gordon , Associate Professor of Political Science , Chapman University
Although a range of theories, from prospect theory to elite cue theory, have been offered to explain factors influencing public opinion on humanitarian intervention abroad, a deficit in the literature remains. Relying on the 2008 American National Election Study, I address this deficit by examining the influence of age and generation on opinion on humanitarian intervention. Survey data allows an understanding of the influence of social demographic variables on who supports and opposes humanitarian intervention, and allows us to isolate the variables of age and generation so that their impact can be observed. The present study then applies generational theory in order to explain why younger people tend to be more supportive of humanitarian intervention. A possible explanation for this, in terms of generational theory, is that more recent generations have been socialized in a world in which human rights has become a more prominent issue and humanitarian intervention has become a more common practice. In addition, they may be more comfortable with globalization, and are therefore inclined to support the violation state-sovereignty to defend human rights. Other factors, such as level of education, party affiliation, and religious affiliation, as well as opinions on issues such as the U.N., combating world hunger, and U.S. isolationism are also explored to better understand generational differences in support of humanitarian intervention.