Social change a priority for Americans

Social change
Social change

Almost all Americans made an effort to effect positive social change last year, and most say it is important to them personally to be socially engaged, a new study says.

More than nine in 10 respondents say they have taken action to create social change within the last year, and over three-quarters say such involvement is personally meaningful, according to an online survey of more than 2,100 adults conducted by Walden University and Harris Interactive.

About 85 percent of Americans believe their individual actions can have an impact on social issues, the study says, and slightly more than half say they plan to be involved in social change in the future, either by working by themselves or as part of an informal group.

The survey “affirms the power one individual has to make a profound difference in his or her local community and around the world,” Jonathan Kaplan, president of Walden University, says in a statement.

That feeling of individual efficacy could be due in part to the emergence of digital technologies, which 88 percent of people say can move interest to action faster than any other medium, and which 81 percent say has changed how social progress happens.

Forty percent of Americans believe education is the most important social issue currently, while 35 percent list health care and 33 percent list poverty.

Social engagement is highest among Baby Boomers and Americans age 66 and older, with both demographic groups more likely than both Generations X and Y to have participated in social-change activities within the past year.

And while respondents say the world is becoming more interconnected and believe social change is important both at home and abroad, 88 percent say “the best way to have an impact on the world is to make a change at the local level,” the report says.

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