Harry Potter a great impact on millennials and their politics

June 23, 2013 at 9:42 PM
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BURLINGTON, Vt., June 23 (UPI) -- The influence of the "Harry Potter" series on the millennial generation -- 1982-02 -- may extend far beyond the Hogwarts fantasy world, a U.S. survey indicates.

Anthony Gierzynski of the University of Vermont and author of "Harry Potter and the Millennials: Research Methods and the Politics of the Muggle Generation," said readers of the seven-book series and viewers of the movies based on them tend be more open to diversity; politically tolerant; less authoritarian; less likely to support the use of deadly force or torture; and more politically active.

About 60 percent of the millennials who read all of the books said they voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, while 83 percent of the full-series readers said they viewed the George W. Bush administration unfavorably, Gierzynski said.

"Whether the book provided new perspectives or reinforced those already in their world, the deep immersion in the story and identification with the characters almost guaranteed an alignment of fans' perspectives with those of the wizarding world, perspectives that would differentiate them from their non-fan peers," Gierzynski said in a statement.

Gierzynski and students collected qualitative data via interviews, essays and an anonymous survey of 1,100 college students from 2009-11 enrolled at the University of Vermont, University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, Adirondack Community College, California Polytechnic State University, Iowa State and Pacific Lutheran University.

An extensive questionnaire determined levels of Harry Potter fandom on a scale of 1-5 based on a quiz and readership levels. About 30 percent self-reported as being "very much into Harry Potter" with 35 percent having read all seven books in the series and two-thirds at least some of the books.

A total of 45 percent had seen all of the movies and 86 percent at least some of them, the survey said.

Gierzynki acknowledged correlation does not prove causation, but "there is abundant evidence that Harry Potter fans are different from non-fans on the very subjects that were covered in the lessons of the series." He likens the impact of Harry Potter on millennials to that of the "Star Wars" movies on Generation X, the Beatles rock band on baby boomers and the movie "Casablanca" on the so-called greatest generation that grew up during the Great Depression and fought World War II.

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