Young people are currently caught between the collapse of old social forms and the creation of new, with no guidelines on how to operate in the present. Their present impact on society is in questioning old values and demanding that social issues be responsibly dealt with.
In any community, in different degrees, young people encounter difficult problems, which derive not from their own inadequacies, nor in many cases from those of their education, but from changing economic situations, rapid technological change, severe environmental pollution, institutional systems that spawn poverty and discourage efforts to improve one's lot, the application of inefficient economic theories, rapid growth of armaments, and so on. Young people find themselves living in a society which does not make enough effort to resolve the problems with which they are confronted. They have difficulties in finding satisfying, productive and gainful employment. Gradually they have become indifferent and listless. They have a sense of frustration and alienation and feel themselves undervalued and powerless. Feeling that they are being manipulated to ends that do not reflect their aspirations, many have become weary. They realize that what they are being told to do is not useful now, nor is it useful for the future.
Without the joy of creativity, the young have lost their characteristic enthusiasm. Robbed of their right to a better and brighter future, young people feel profoundly disillusioned, confused, discouraged and de-motivated; they are amputated of that which should be their most precious right – a joyful expectation of the future.
The percentage of 18- to 29-years olds in the USA who think they have a very good chance of achieving "the good life" fell from 41% in 1978 to 21% in 1993. In 1967, 83% of USA college freshmen thought it was essential to develop a philosophy of life; this had fallen to 39% in 1987.