Kim Wolske, Thomas P. Lyon, Wren Montgomery
Explanations for field change emphasize the role of purposeful strategic actors, paying little attention to uncoordinated but cohesive social groups, despite their profound impacts on fields ranging from autos and news to politics. Using a mixed methods approach, we study Millennials’ driving behaviours, focusing on the role of generation cohorts as field actors. Combining in‐depth qualitative analysis with an original nationwide survey (N = 2,225) we find that Millennials exhibit significantly different driving behaviour than earlier generations, driving for roughly 8 per cent fewer trips. These differences are primarily due to their attitudes, not, as commonly presumed, socio‐economic factors. Our results contribute to theory on fields and collective actors. First, we identify a new field phenomenon, correlated groups , uncoordinated actors behaving as collective agents due to shared experiences and characteristics. Second, we identify four mechanisms through which correlated groups impact fields: correlated imprinting, cohorts as conduit, cohort myth apathy, and cohort myth creation.