Young people seek ‘drive’ and career opportunities in politics and social movements; they consider justice to be the most important thing in the country’s development; they want to be subjects, not objects of politics.
MOSCOW, August 25, 2017. The Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) and the Center for Student Sociology presents the results of a study conducted at the All-Russian Youth Educational Forum "The Territory of senses on the Klyazma River".
Youth involvement in politics is all about self-realization, channelization of energy, new experiences and new contacts. Political and social activities give a foothold, an opportunity to feel important and needed, and an ability to make decisions. Younger respondents (under than 24 years old) perceive the political involvement as a “drive, a feeling of life, an inspiration”; those older regard it as the basis for future career, an instrument of social mobility.
Ideological message is not crucial for young political activists when choosing what party or movement to join. The group participants have a mix of ideas and poorly distinguish themselves from the supporters of other parties, with the exception of young communists who perceive the ideology as the key to self-realization.
Adherents of different parties share common ideas about political order and stress the need for a strong leader who stands above the party system and consolidate the population; the images of Russian famous historical figures, from tzars and emperors to party leaders, are full of energy and convey a desire to strengthen the nation, to take the nation to a new level, to make people be proud of their home country. However, the limits of power and sole command, the ethical issues of sacrifice, and the balance between individual rights and powerful institutions are still disputable among young people; so focus group participants do not have any iconic characters.
Justice and involvement are the key ideas needed for the country’s development. Justice is considered by FG participants as equal chances with unequal starting points. Climbing the social mobility ladder is the most important problem of youth. Another facet of justice is rewards equal to merits. All FG participants believe that the public sector workers are unfairly treated. This causes idealization of doctors’ and teachers’ vocation and formal socially oriented rhetoric and does not lead to understanding that their problems are the problems of the entire society.
Discontent with the existing stratification, unequal distribution of social goods are integral to the future political elite’s request for change. New elite expect their country to be wealthy in the future and consider that their own well-being and chances might be much better.
One of the key political requirements is more opportunities to participate in the life of the country at different levels and capacity to influence development strategies, reducing the distance to policy makers; an ability to be subject rather than object of politics.
The FG participants appreciate a patriotism-focused youth politics but they emphasize a lack of attention to youth vital problems ranging from education to employment and housing. Young political and social activists are not willing to face formality in politics, to merely “tick boxes”; they want to be involved in the “real thing”, they need changes and want to make sure that the projects have been undertaken with success.
The study was conducted by VCIOM and the Center for Student Sociology on July 31 – August 1, 2017 during the All-Russian Youth Educational Forum "The Territory of senses on the Klyazma River". Empirical basis of the study is three focus group discussions. A total number of 30 persons aged 18-30 took part in the discussions. The groups had mixed political views and represent different Russian regions.
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