Russia’s Young People ‘Really Different’ Than Their Parents – OpEd

Intense media attention to the massive participation of young Russians in Sunday’s demonstrations is attracting attention to a study conducted by Sberbank that was released two weeks ago which concludes that young people in Russia today “are different and we must recognize that reality.”

Sberbank working with the Validata Agency conducted 18 focus groups with young people aged five to 25, five focus groups with parents, additional intreviws with parents and with teachers and experts (prclub.spb.ru/2017/03/15/исследование-сбербанка-30-фактов-о-совр/; on the new attention, see ruskline.ru/news_rl/2017/03/29/oni_drugie_my_dolzhny_eto_priznat/).

The study presented 30 conclusions about young people and how different they are from their parents:

  1. Young people have grown up connected to the Internet.
  1. Young people have a short attention span, typically eight seconds for one object.
  1. Social networks promote the sense among young people that everything is constantly changing.
  1. The conflict of generations has been attenuated because parents attempt to have “partnership relations” with their children.
  1. “Adults now are not the absolute authority and themselves recognize that their children exceed them in many skills.”
  1. Parents protect their children to the point that the latter “do not develop habits of solving problems of real life.”
  1. Young people do not like to be alone and want always to be in contact with others.
  1. Each young person is “certain of his or her own exceptional nature.”
  1. Young people are more likely to follow the recommendations of Online media than of “clearly expressed subcultures.”
  1. Young people “do not see themselves as a unified generation.”
  1. Young people expect things to be in constant change and for many of them not to work out as planned. They also expect the possibility about “sudden and remarkable success.”
  1. Young people are more inclined to “quiet resistance than to open revolt.”
  1. Young people lack a commitment for gender equality.
  1. The most important thing for people is finding their own path forward.
  1. For young people, the main goal is to be happy. “Difficulties mean that the path chosen is the wrong one.”
  1. Young people think that happiness is success, satisfaction and not wealth and status.
  1. Young people view self-improvement as fashionable.
  1. Young people believe that life is good if it is varied.
  1. For young people, work must be a source of happiness and not take too much time.
  1. Young people aren’t out to change the world or humanity but to make a comfortable life for themselves and their families and friends.
  1. Young people have a passionate desire for recognition and social popularity.
  1. For young people, “it is fashionable to be smart.”
  1. For young people, “a successful family life is conceived as a sign of independence and is a more important goal than professional achievement.”
  1. Young people are afraid of disappointing their parents.
  1. Young people are afraid of making bad and irreversible choices.
  1. For young people, “freedom of choice is not a help but a hindrance.”
  1. “The present-day youth are afraid of a ‘typical’ life without spontaneity, intense experiences and bright impressions.”
  1. For young people, “the ideal future involves first and foremost family and friends.”
  1. Young people view the future as unpredictable and thus have a short time horizon as far as planning is concerned.
  1. For young people, “the chief expectation for the future is comfort and serenity.”

Many of these are characteristic of young people elsewhere and in many generations, but the appearance of this list now is important in Russia because it is likely to be viewed by many officials and many opinion leaders as a snap shot of the generation they see now coming to the fore.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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