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The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dreamby John Zogby
Synopses & Reviews
According to super pollster John Zogby, whom the Washington Post calls "the maverick predictor," the conventional wisdom about the United States — that we're isolated from the world, politically fragmented, and inclined toward material pleasure — isn't just flawed; it may be 180 degrees from the truth. In this far-reaching and illuminating look at contemporary American life, Zogby reveals nothing less than The Way We'll Be. Drawing on thousands of in-depth surveys conducted especially for the book, Zogby points out where we're headed — politically, culturally, and spiritually.
The American dream is in transition; it is rapidly being redefined by four meta-movements: living with limits as consumers and citizens; embracing diversity of views and ways of life; looking inward to find spiritual comfort; and demanding authenticity from the media, our leaders, and leading institutions. Spearheaded by today's eighteen-to-twenty-nine-year-olds — the First Global generation — Americans are becoming more internationalist, consensus-oriented, and environmentally conscious and less willing to identify themselves by the things they do to earn or spend their money. But this is more than a youth tide. Americans of all ages are moving beyond old divides — red state/blue state, pro-life/pro-choice, beer drinker/wine connoisseur — to form a new national consensus that will shape the nation for decades to come.
Zogby's cogent analysis of the data yields an astonishing perspective on Americans' thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, now and in coming years. Filled with expert analysis and insight from one of today's most successful predictors and trend spotters, The Way We'll Be will redefine how we view America's future.
Dismissing a crystal-ball book by a professional pollster would be easy. After all, generalizing about a diverse nation of 300 million people based on samples of just a few hundred seems ludicrous. But pollster John Zogby's voice in "The Way We'll Be" is disarming. He anticipates skepticism and answers potential arguments with a combination of intelligent rebuttal, winning modesty... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) and full disclosure about the limits of his methodology. What he describes seems a plausible (though not guaranteed) scenario for the future of the United States, its politics, culture and economics. Even if Zogby's conclusions prove to be mistaken, the data he has collected offer plenty of fodder for discussion. Drawing on surveys he conducted over a 20-year period, Zogby analyzed responses from all age and demographic groups. What he found was surprisingly optimistic: reason for uplift amid job layoffs, inadequate health care, rising gasoline prices, global warming and other morale-sapping problems. "My surveying shows that we are in the middle of a fundamental reorientation of the American character," he writes, "away from wanton consumption and toward a new global citizenry in an age of limited resources." I like the sound of that new world. But I could not shake the thought that maybe Zogby is interpreting data to fit his personal hopes. Or maybe people tend to offer answers that sound politically correct and comport with what they believe pollsters want to hear. Cued by Zogby's hopeful interpretation, I vowed to look for holes in his analysis, as well as flaws in the premises and phrasings of his questions. But as Zogby works through his data, sprinkling his pages with statistical tables, the vision in his crystal ball seems to hold. He comes across as justifiably confident when writing that significant numbers of Americans "are less interested in luxury and extravagance than in comfort, convenience, costs, and the dictates of a growing global consciousness." For example, when asked what values were important in their consumer decisions, 51 percent of women responding mentioned the exploitation of child labor, 44 percent cited environmental friendliness, and 37 percent mentioned the human rights record of the producer. Armed with such replies, Zogby confidently states that "Americans want to live in a world with other people, not in a walled empire surrounded by enemies." At the center of this optimistic future is a group he labels the "First Globals," consisting of the current 18- to 29-year-olds across the United States. This group, he finds, is "the most outward-looking and accepting generation in American history." Yes, many of them are self-absorbed and materialistic. But, Zogby says, the majority of First Globals are "far more likely than their elders to accept gays and lesbians. For all practical purposes, they're the first color-blind Americans and the first to bring a consistently global perspective to everything from foreign policy to environmental issues to the coffee they buy, the music they listen to and the clothes they wear." And they feel far more connected personally to the rest of the world. They expect to travel to exotic locales such as Cape Town and Dubai. "A quarter of them think they'll end up living for some significant period in a country other than America," Zogby notes. When asked about the propriety of "an imperialist power that acts on its own regardless of what the rest of the world thinks," 86 percent of First Globals labeled such conduct "improper/somewhat improper"; only 3 percent considered it "somewhat proper/proper." No other demographic group in his study "had a greater spread between the two extremes," Zogby comments. These responses signify the group's determination "to find a middle ground on the hot-button issues of the day." Such a data-laden book could be boring, but Zogby laces it with amusing anecdotes throughout. In one, he recounts a conversation with a 20-year-old restaurant worker in Utica, N.Y., about her concept of personal privacy in the new YouTube world: "I asked our waitress about her own limits on what she would reveal," Zogby reports. "'My boobs,' she answered, not terribly demurely, 'but only on Halloween, and only for my friends.'" Zogby replied, "Well, I'm your friend today, but tomorrow I might not be. Can you stop me from sharing your, um, breasts with the rest of the world, or with the company you're hoping will hire you?" "No," countered the server, "but so many of us do this in one form or another that employers are just going to have to adjust or they won't have anyone left to hire." As the server moved to another table, Zogby recalled thinking, "What's bad for beauty queens and teenage ingenues today becomes business as usual the day after tomorrow." Zogby also believes that young people, "so willing to share even intimate details with a global community" over the Internet, will become increasingly multilateralist in their worldview. That change alone won't bring about a perfect world, of course, but it is bound to improve upon the nationalism that for so many years sparked conflict and war. Steve Weinberg's most recent book is "Taking on the Trust: The Epic Battle of Ida Tarbell and John D. Rockefeller." Reviewed by Steve Weinberg, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"[A]n excellent book with a valuable perspective on current American thought and important information for marketers as they seek to understand consumers' buying behavior." Booklist
"The poll data in the book will likely be of general interest, and his text boxes of summarized marketing tips following each chapter will be useful for those seeking to find new ways of reaching the kinds of American consumers Zogby has described. Recommended." Library Journal
Eminent pollster Zogby offers this illuminating, fact-filled look at the changing nature of the American Dream and how this is influencing everything — from the politicians people vote for to the goods and services they buy.
According to super pollster John Zogby, whom The Washington Post calls “the maverick predictor,” the conventional wisdom about the United States-that were isolated from the world, politically fragmented, and inclined toward material pleasure-isnt just flawed; it may be 180 degrees from the truth. In this far-reaching and illuminating look at contemporary American life, Zogby reveals nothing less than The Way Well Be. Drawing on thousands of in-depth surveys conducted especially for the book, Zogby points out where were headed-politically, culturally, and spiritually.
The American dream is in transition; it is rapidly being redefined by four meta-movements: living with limits as consumers and citizens; embracing diversity of views and ways of life; looking inward to find spiritual comfort; and demanding authenticity from the media, our leaders, and leading institutions. Spearheaded by todays eighteen-to-twenty-nine-year-olds-the “First Global” generation-Americans are becoming more internationalist, consensus-oriented, and environmentally conscious and less willing to identify themselves by the things they do to earn or spend their money. But this is more than a youth tide. Americans of all ages are moving beyond old divides-red state/blue state, pro-life/pro-choice, beer drinker/wine connoisseur-to form a new national consensus that will shape the nation for decades to come.
Zogbys cogent analysis of the data yields an astonishing perspective on Americans thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, now and in coming years. Understanding this emerging reality will be key for
• leaders in all fields who want to reach audiences that are more media-savvy, better informed, and more technologically enabled than ever before
• individuals in search of rewarding and fulfilling careers in tomorrows growth fields
• politicians and CEOs looking to marry policies and practices to the rising demand for social responsibility
• anyone who wants to market to the emerging new American consensus
Beyond telling a fascinating story, the conclusions in this book are a must-read for everyone from Main Street to Madison Avenue to Capitol Hill. Filled with expert analysis and insight from one of todays most successful predictors and trend spotters, The Way Well Be will redefine how we view Americas future.
About the Author
John Zogby is the president and CEO of Zogby International, whose many media and business clients include Reuters, NBC News, MSNBC, the New York Post, C-SPAN, Gannett News Service, IBM, MetLife, and Microsoft. He is a regular contributor to network television news broadcasts and has been a frequent guest on Today, Hardball with Chris Matthews, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His writing has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. A frequent lecturer and panelist, he is married to Kathleen Zogby, a retired special education teacher, and has three sons, Jonathan, Benjamin, and Jeremy. He lives in Utica, New York.
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History and Social Science » American Studies » 80s to Present