Idealism in popular usage (as opposed to its technical philosophical connotation) implies the envisaging of things in an ideal form, and the pursuit of personal ideals which may be impractical - as in utopianism - and cause mismanagement, including wastage and misallocation of resources. The pursuit of such ideals may cause conflict of various kinds.
Popularly believed to have characterized the USA in the 1960's and early 1970's, idealism seems to have gained a resurgence among American youth. A 1989 poll conducted by sociologists at the University of California at Los Angeles and aimed at in-coming freshmen across the nation shows that 40% cited "developing a meaningful philosophy of life" and 59% cited "helping others who are in difficulty" as important goals in their lives. Conversely, a 1989 Gallup poll indicates America's 1960's generation may not have been as idealistic as they now believe they were. A mere 16% said they had been involved in organized protests as a part of the civil rights or anti-war movements, and only 27% said they had "dressed like a hippie".
Idealism, that which F. Scott Fitzgerald termed the "willingness of the heart", is the force behind which great social achievements have been made. Without idealism the world would not witness humanitarianism, rendering humanity without a future. Idealism is a necessary aspect of hope, in whose absence a society could not function.