Forty Years After Woodstock, A Gentler Generation Gap

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Forty years after the Woodstock music festival glorified and exacerbated the generational fractures in American life, the public today says there are big differences between younger and older adults in their values, use of technology, work ethic, and respect and tolerance for others.

But this modern generation gap is a much more subdued affair than the one that raged in the 1960s, for relatively few Americans of any age see it as a source of conflict -- either in society at large or in their own families.

Moreover, there's now broad agreement across the generations about one realm of American culture that had been an intense battlefield in the 1960s: the music.

In the four decades since Woodstock, rock and roll has made the journey from the defiant soundtrack of the counterculture to the most popular music in the land, according to a nationwide telephone survey by the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends project conducted from July 20 through Aug. 2 among a nationally representative sample of 1,815 people ages 16 and older.

Two-thirds of respondents say they listen to rock often (35%) or sometimes (30%), placing it ahead of the six other musical genres tested in the survey: country, rhythm and blues, hip-hop, classical, jazz and salsa.

Back in 1966, a national survey1 found that rock and roll was by far the most unpopular music in the country. Nearly half of adults (44%) said they disliked it, and only 4% said it was their favorite kind of music.

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