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Pregled bibliografske jedinice broj: 113153

Youth and Transition in Croatia

Youth and Transition in Croatia, Zagreb: IDIZ ; DZZOMM, 2002 (monografija)

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Youth and Transition in Croatia

Ilišin, Vlasta ; Radin, Furio

Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija knjige
Uredničke knjige, monografija, znanstvena





953-6218-12-7 (IDIZ)

Ključne riječi
youth; Croatia; transition; values; politics; nation; education; religion; leisure time; unemployment

Between 1986 and 1999, radical and far-reaching changes occurred in Croatia, which were presumed to have considerably affected the changes in the attitudes and behavioral patterns of the young. To perceive these changes more clearly, we need a reminder of Croatia in the middle 1980's and at the end of the past century. At the time of the first research, Croatia was, along with Slovenia, the most developed republic in the former state, the Socialist Federate Republic of Yugoslavia. Its ethnic composition was relatively heterogeneous since almost a quarter of the population did not belong to the majority - Croatian. The political system, like in rest of Yugoslavia, was normatively defined as self-management socialism. The ideological and political postulates this political system was based on included, among others, the brotherhood and unity of (the constitutional) nations and ethnic groups, social ownership, workers' self-management, a social and class conflict-free society guaranteeing a relatively high minimum of social rights (employment, and through this it, health and retirement insurance, and even the right to public housing), and on the monopoly of the Communist Party authority, as the working class's "avant-garde" and the main promoter of the cult of J. Broz Tito. This totalitarian society, during the mid 1980's, faced an economic and political crisis that constantly deepened after Tito's withdrawal from the political arena. The disappearance of the autocratic party and state leader, who was the unquestionable political authority and arbiter for almost four decades, hastened the surfacing of, what had been up to then, suppressed antagonisms as well as non-dogmatic ideas. It was actually a period of a certain political liberalization, visible in the decreasing of ideological pressures and in the questioning of the socialist project as the best possible form of social and political system for a community, but also in the escalation of national conflicts that would, in the end, bring about the disillusion of the state and a war between nations, included in the earlier federate community. At the same time, on the social plan, in spite of the growing economic crisis and the gradual increase in the unemployment rate, the wider strata of the population still had a guaranteed minimum of social rights, relatively solid health care and equal chances for education, even though social differences, hidden before, now grew more pronounced. Social promotion became more and more the result of educational achievements, and less of the so-called moral and political suitability, but at the same time, different informal relationships, as a direct transfer from the traditional into a (half) modern society, played a permanently important role. The young were still being socialized as the ones who would continue the mapped out social and political development, and characterized by the slow attainment of socio-economic autonomy - mostly as a result of unemployment and the impossibility of solving their housing problem - and ever greater distancing from the ruling ideology and politics. The openness of Yugoslavia then, enabled the young to gain a direct insight into the way of life in the developed European environment, which additionally convinced them of the deficits in the society and system they were living in. Indeed, the young were the social group that, at the end of the 1980's, showed the greatest deviation from the proclaimed values and official politics, as well as the greatest readiness to accept radical social changes. A succession of expected changes occurred soon after, making the image of Croatia at the beginning of 1999 quite different from the one thirteen years ago. Thus, at the end of the 1990's Croatia was an independent state where over nine tenths of the population are members of the majority nation. The society is recovering rather slowly from the effects of the war, which ended in the middle of the decade. A new political system has been established, nominally based on liberal-democratic values, which, among others, implies the acceptance and development of market economy, political pluralism and tolerance, and respect for human and minority rights. In reality, though, what has dominated is the idea and practice of creating of an ethnically homogenous state, enhanced by the promotion of national integration and the revitalization of traditionalist values, representing the opposite of what the socialist system symbolized, and combined with economic deterioration. On the political level, in spite of the institutionally installed multi-party system, there persisted an almost ten-year long monopoly of authority by one political party and its authoritarian leader as the founder and president of the state. Under that political patronage, the nationalization of social ownership was conducted, afterwards privatized with numerous malfeasances, which almost became the norm. The effects of ownership privatization and of economy restructuring were devastating, because they brought about a considerable fall in the standard of living of the widest strata of the population, a mass loss of employment and an enormous deepening of social inequalities. Along with the rhetoric about the fulfillment of the liberal-market conception of society, the former social security was demolished, social rights were considerably reduced, the quality of health care worsened and the education of children coming from the socially deprived strata aggravated. The insufficient democratization of the Croatian society and some dubious military operations, especially in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, resulted in the noticeable international isolation of Croatia. Due to all these circumstances and processes, the comparative advantages Croatia had at the beginning of the transitional process, had irrevocably disappeared, and the country found itself at the bottom of the list of the transitional countries' compared by the (un)successfulness of the transformation. Thus, it is no surprise that at the end of the 1990's, most Croatian citizens, including the young ones, expected new social changes and were prepared for them. How the social and political transformations in the 1990's reflected on the contemporary Croatian youth, is what our research findings state. The following recapitulation of the results will indicate the most important trends. To begin with, we need to point out the fact that the young think youth lasts up to 29 years of age, but they are differentiated between those who are youth-centric and those who are adult-centric oriented. The youth-centric direction has only mildly increased compared to the 1980's, and it is still characterized by the young's desire to keep that status and stay different from adults for as long as possible, with the emphasis on the socio-economic independence as the most important criterion of adulthood, the accentuation of advantages of youth, like flexibility and potential for innovation, and the tendency to move the upper limit of youth into the thirties. The young with better social origins are mostly oriented toward this type of prolonged youth, those belonging to younger age cohorts, still in the educational system, or with completed academic education, and students and pupils. On the other hand, the adult-centric oriented young people do not think they differ from the older population ; they are more prone to accepting a paternalistic attitude of the society toward the young and more considerate toward the traditional criteria of adulthood. These young people are most often close to there thirties, of a lower social origin and in blue-collar employment, and are either employed or unemployed. The relationship toward the future, in turn, points to the survival of the discrepancy between the youth's pronounced optimism when it comes to their personal future, and superficial optimism regarding the future of society. In that vein, the pessimistic view of their personal future increases mildly with the age of the respondents and their entrance into working life, and especially as a result of unemployment. But, what is intriguing is that the stated pessimism and optimism of the young in the 1990's remained the same as in the 1980's, although the social circumstances of their coming of age had essentially changed. The hierarchies and value structures of the young followed the basic social changes, in the manner that everything that was the consequence of the narrowing of life resources and perspectives, was manifested in the results, as an even more accentuated belief in the values of privacy and individual affirmation. That way, the young sent a clear message that they see their future more and more, as a goal which can be achieved exclusively by depending on one's own strengths and the support of friends and family, with great distrust toward the institutions of society, especially the political ones. It is for this reason that the greatest differences between the 1986 and the 1999 research are the ones relating to material status and independence, then, professional achievement, and the values relating to tradition, especially nationality and religion show a big increase as well. It is interesting to notice a strong rise in the value of political power, probably understood as one of the real possibilities of improving the material and social status of an individual. Actually, all the offered values were more represented at the end of the 1990's than in the mid 1980's, which is also an indicator of the great emotional meaning they have for a young individual, maybe because their realization seems so distant. The exception is political affirmation, which is even less accepted than in 1986. These results are in accord with the knowledge about the growing distance of young people (and not just them) from politics in Europe as a whole, which might have far-reaching consequences. The value of religious belief grew, and according to the results obtained from the religiousness indicators investigated, the young today are much more religious than fifteen years ago. The increase was determined on all the dimensions observed, whereas the differences detected on the inter-dimensional level - from the most common confessional self-identification to the least common compulsory religious practice - show that the young in that regard do not deviate from the older population. Thus, the traditional forms of religiousness predominate, while actual religious belief is less developed. Considering the socio-demographic indicators, the guidelines of their higher religiosity are, most of all, the result of the ambient and socialization, meaning a more traditional or more modern environment and lifestyle. The young are, to a considerable extent, religiously socialized through both the family and organized religious education, and raise (or are prepared to raise) their children in the same manner, they are motivated mostly by the need to sustain religion, but also by the positive edifying influence they recognize in religion. On the value level (as they obviously accept the Church and non-church beliefs at the same time) the young do not seem to perceive it is incompatible to consider themselves religious, and to have attitudes opposing the attitudes of their religion and the Church in the field of sexuality and morals. The secular ideas and values are internalized and exist alongside the religious ones, which points to a type of value relativism, that is, to the simultaneous maintenance of value orientations that on a theoretic level can be completely opposite. The historically present and widespread, traditional church religiosity in Croatia, the changed position of religion and the Church in society, the freedom to express religious beliefs, the institutional support of a religious orientation concentrated precisely on the young population through confessional religious education in schools, and growing up in a society burdened by the tragic events of the war, with an uneven social and political development, poverty and confusion, with narrowed perspectives, especially for the young - these are the social co-ordinates of this increased religiosity. In the context of a lack of generally accepted and coherent value strongholds, the question is raised, if such an increase in the youth's religiosity (and that of the rest of the population) is for the most part an expression of acceptance of the only "offered", traditional (national-religious) values or identification pattern. To the extent in which religiosity is part of the family and a wider cultural and national tradition, and of the incentives that in that regard have come, or still come, from the society and the Church, we could presume the stabilization of youth's religious structure. But, at the same time this religious structure could face great challenges that it has already faced in the Western, modern (and post-modern?) societies. Exposed to the various influences of the social environment, the young react in different ways, even when the relationship toward their nation is in question. The research of this relationship pointed to a heterogeneous structure of young people's national awareness in all the dimensions analyzed: attitudes toward one's own nation, the European integration processes and other European nations. An increase in the validation of nationality has already been detected in the value system, and, in accord with this, in the relation toward one's own nation during the 1990s there is an indicative shift toward the attitudes stating firmer attachment of the young to their nation than in the 1980s. Although a decrease in the attractiveness of cosmopolitan oriented statements, and a greater diffusion of the nationally, even ethnocentric tinted ones, was registered, the attitudes that, with attachment to their own nation, "preserve" openness toward the world and the influence of other cultures at the same time, prevail in the young population in the 1990s. The young also relate differently toward the inclusion of Croatia into the European integration processes. Parallel to pro-European there are anti-European attitudes, those indicating both a critical as well as an uncritical relationship toward the readiness of Croatia for European integration. Regardless of the indicated reserve and fear toward it, Europe still represents an attractive social space for most young people that to Croatia and to them personally offers better conditions for development. The critical relationship of the young toward the readiness of Croatia for inclusion into European integration, especially regarding the degree of democratization of social life, points to the fact that the young have, in spite of the national homogenization, internalized the values of a democratic and pluralistic society. This finding is that much more valuable, because it concerns the population that will carry the future development of the society. Analysis also showed that the relation of the young toward their own nation and European integration are considerably affected by the socio-demographic characteristics observed. With that, once more the modernization values (education, and an urban, economically more developed environment) were proven to be favorable to the development of young people as free individuals not tied exclusively to one group, but with multiple identities and openness to communication in different directions. The data about the young people's greater social distance toward the Eastern, non-Catholic nations, especially the Bosnians, the Serbs and the Albanians, than toward the geographically distant Western European and Catholic nations, give a somewhat different picture of their national awareness. The stated social distance, much more clearly than the previous dimensions of national awareness, reflects the influence of the predominant political ideology of ethnical nationalism during the 1990's, and its pertaining hierarchical division into West and East, that is, developed and undeveloped nations and cultures. As a conclusion, it can still be said that the young in Croatia, despite their exposure to the processes of strong ethical homogenization and indicated shifts toward a firmer attachment to one's own nation, have preserved typical generational characteristics: criticism and openness for pluralism of the social space and the world around them. One of the Croatian specifics in the first decade of transition is a high politicization of the national and religious component. But, this only partially influences the relation of the young toward politics, which is primarily defined by their pronounced distancing from that sphere of public life. In this connection, the young demonstrate a relatively solid understanding of social reality, a satisfactory democratic potential and a principle consent that they, the young, should be more present in Croatia's political life. As the greatest problems of the Croatian society and their own generation, the young emphasize the problems of a socio-economic nature (unemployment, insufficient economic development), as the political priorities they determine the fight against unemployment and the accomplishment of social justice and security, and they most often perceive the existence of social inequalities. Most young accept the basic democratic values and understand the rules of democratic life, incline toward a harmonious understanding of politics and show distrust toward the highest institutions of state authority. The young are more inclined to social than political activism, and they believe they are politically marginalized more because of the distrustful relationship of society toward their generation than because of their own incompetence. Their party preferences have changed noticeably during the ten-year transitional period, and, as a rule, this would occur one or two election cycles earlier than such changes happened among the older population. But, the polarization among the young population is identical to that among the rest of the citizens: on the one hand there are the supporters of the SDP and LS, on the other the sympathizers of HDZ and HSP, while the voters of HSLS and HSS lie in between those two party poles. The results obtained have shown that the young are not homogenous in their understanding of politics, and two basic groups can be recognized. On the one hand, there are the so called, socio-culturally more competent young (better educated, more mature, students from urban domicile and higher social origin, non-religious and supporters of SDP and LS) who demonstrate a higher democratic potential, are less satisfied with generational political participation and influence, and rarely accept the paternalistic behavior of society toward the young. On the other hand, there are the so called, socio-culturally inferior young (less educated, of lower social origin, pupils, the youngest, of rural domicile, religious and sympathizers of HDZ and HSP) that show a weaker understanding of democratic rules, are more prone to see their own generation as incompetent, and, to a larger extent, accept the tutorial relation of the society toward the young. These trends point to the conclusion that, the more competent and closer to entering the adult world the young are, so their awareness of their own political importance grows and, in accordance with this, so does their dissatisfaction with their marginal, generational social and political status. In the modern society, education is primarily related to the young, because it is their obligation and the reference that greatly determines their future life. In other words, since school prepares the young for their adult life, the achievement of individual goals and the quality of an individual's future life, depend on educational achievement. The researches have so far rarely dealt with the question of how the young evaluate education, and here we have concentrated exactly on this issue. The results of our research show that the young have relatively high expectations from education. In it, they most of all see a means for personal development, especially of those abilities which will enable them to solve elementary existential problems in a satisfactory manner, at the end of education, such as getting a desired job and becoming socio-economically independent. The importance of education as a means of social promotion (gaining a better material standard and a prestigious social status) is not as pronounced. The young least care for the socialization function of schools, which develops an interest for participation and taking responsibility for the development of political and social life. Even though this hierarchy of expectations from education could be ascribed to the focus of youth on their own problems as a generational characteristic, it, at the same time, warns of the imbalance of the functions of school, where the socially integrative aspect deserves special attention and revalidation. The data also point to the fact that the young are, in their expectations, quite rational because they are primarily focused on those expectations that are in the function of resolving immediate life issues after the end of education. In other words, as the results show, they have no illusions about the real limits of education in the achievement of their life goals. The young are aware of the limitations of the influence of education on solving their existential problems, of the social underestimation of education, and of the strength of other social factors influencing their economic and social status, or the possibility of individual development and advancement. But, not all young people share the stated opinion to the same degree. It is peculiar that the young with higher education, living in developed urban areas and in families with highly educated parents, are much more critical and reserved when it comes to evaluating the importance of education for their professional and social promotion, than the young of opposite social characteristics (lower education, rural residential status, lower education of parents). This finding indicates that less critical, and higher expectations from education appear in the economically and culturally deprived segment of youth, to whom education, in the absence of other mechanisms, still presents the main, if not the only means of economic and social promotion. This additionally actualizes the problem of the role of schools in reducing the social inequalities in the transitional period. Along with the process of education, the second most frequent issue related to youth has to do with the problems of work and employment. Regarding the work values of youth and the changes that took place since the mid 1980s to the end of the 1990s, the presumption was confirmed that the extrinsic motivation would increase, due to the ever more adverse social position of youth and the consequences of long-term unemployment. Within the work values hierarchy, the expressive meaning of work became equal to the instrumental one, and we observed an indicative increase in the values of social interaction, and validation of work from the position of the aspirate status that was also confirmed as a separate value orientation. This coexistence of different value orientations toward work is also known as parallel internalization of humanistic and extrinsic values, that is, positional proximity of divergent aspirations. But, with all the heterogeneousness present in the validation of work, self-realization through work and material orientation are the two most important elements of this process. The analysis of the influence of specific socio-demographic factors showed that the young were not in fact extremely different in regard to the acceptance of a specific view of the role of work. The differences, neither numerous nor especially strong, are still the most obvious in the most frequent attitude about work as a possibility for self-actualization through the development of one's own potentials. Our research once more confirmed the influence of education in the acceptance of this typical intrinsic value. Even though considerable changes took place from the mid 1980s to the end of the 1990s in the structure of unemployment - primarily in the decrease of the share of people of younger age - the growth of the unemployment rate within the youngest work-active population still indicates that unemployment is the most pronounced problem of the younger generation. Our respondents are aware of this devastating fact, and the analysis of their attitudes clearly states that the young have precisely detected not only the greatest problems of Croatian society, but also the inappropriate reaction of the state, as well as society, to the resistant manifestation of mass and long-term unemployment and multiple social and socio-psychological consequences it brings about. It is, therefore, easy to understand not only the frustration from not being able to realize the working role, as an important socializing factor in the process of the transition from youth into adulthood, but also the apathy engulfing the young, manifested both in avoiding social and political engagement and losing trust in important institutions of the system, and also in increased preparedness to leave the country in search for employment. A reminder is necessary that the departure of the most productive and educated part of the population means a huge loss not only for the economic but also for the entire social development. With increased criticism toward the society because of its relation to the unemployed, changes compared to the mid 1980s are visible from the decrease in the share of young people that provide for a family and an increase in the number of those forced to make do in any way available, to ensure basic means for living. The evaluations of young people's employment perspectives are still extremely negative, while their perception of the main reasons for high unemployment indicates a realistic insight into the basic characteristics of the Croatian society at the end of the 1990s. Almost two fifths of the young have participated in some form of unregistered employment, and the analysis of their socio-demographic characteristics shows that, based on the results obtained, we can paint a profile of a "typical" member of the young generation, who most often participates in some of form of gray economy. They are usually urban, employed or unemployed young men from the older age cohort, who have finished high school. This education group, as is well known, is also the most represented within the unemployed youth. The young included in unregistered employment do not differ from the entire population questioned in their attitudes towards unemployment. They, just like most of the respondents, believe that unemployment is the most important problem in Croatia today and that its reduction should be one of the most important goals of Croatian politics. The same was noted in the evaluation of the relationship of society toward resolving this still dominant problem of the young generation. The third complex of problems most often connected to the young is the question of their interests and the ways they spend their leisure time. The results obtained in this research showed that in the last fifteen years there has been an increase in young people's interest in most phenomenon investigated, but that their hierarchical structure stayed unchanged. Thus, the young are still primarily interested in the manifestations and events that constitute the sphere of private life (friends and acquaintances, fun and entertainment, sex and love, travel), while the interest in the public sphere (politics, army) is even smaller than before. These interests are structured into four recognizable orientations: cognitive, sociable, traditionalist and competitive, where the young are notably different from each other. At the same time, participation in most leisure activities has decreased, and the most common pattern of spending leisure time is the urban one (socializing, outings to cafés and discos, going to parties and concerts). The elite and rural patterns are less accepted, and they, at the same time, represent a very different way the young spend their leisure time. Their free time is also characterized by preoccupation with the media, sport, music and social work, and the young's spare time is constantly and dominantly filled with fun and entertainment, where the aspects of personality development are of secondary importance. The analysis indicated that the socio-culturally more competent young people (higher educated, of urban residential status, of better social origin) tend to accept the cognitive and sociable interest orientations and urban and elite lifestyle, while on the other hand the socio-culturally more inferior youth preferring the traditionalist and competitive interest orientation, along with the rural pattern of spending leisure time. Finally, addiction is one of the social problems, which is, above all, ascribed to the young. In this research, this issue is present for informational value only, and as such, illustrates the changes that have taken place. It was shown that, as expected, the use of different psychoactive substances: tobacco, alcohol, psycho-pharmaceuticals and the so-called, soft and hard drugs, increased during the 1990s. In this view, the young between the age of 20 and 24, especially students of urban domicile, were detected as the risk group. But, at the same time, there are indications that most of those who experimented or occasionally took drugs, gave that type of behavior up as they became more mature. The previous, summarized results point to the basic changes that occurred in the period observed among young people. First of all, clear indicators were obtained that the general social position of the young at the end of the 1990s changed considerably when compared to the mid 1980s, whereas their position, in some important segments, worsened. Witnesses to that are the increase of unemployment, the decrease in the quality of everyday life and the spreading of potentially deviant forms of behavior. Thus, the transitional society has been confirmed as a society of pronounced risk and social insecurity, and yet without new, wider perspectives. The young respond to these challenges with an even more pronounced retreat into privacy and even more visible distancing from social and political affairs than earlier. At the same time, they show that they have not lost faith in their personal perspective, but they mostly place their confidence in their own strengths. In this regard, the young do not count especially on social help, although they are obviously discontent because of its absence. At this point, the prevailing of a pragmatic relationship toward the social reality and the possibilities of realizing their own potentials is visible among them. The existing individualization of lifestyles is not just a result of unfavorable social circumstances, but also an indicator of the modernization process that encompasses a considerable portion of contemporary Croatian youth. In this tendency Croatian young people are similar to the youth of other transitional countries, as well as the developed European societies. But, since the process of re-traditionalization was simultaneously at work in Croatia, its effect is manifested through the expression of a pronouncedly traditionalist direction of a considerable portion of the contemporary youth. Hence the youth in Croatia can be characterized as being polarized into the modern and the traditionally oriented, where that statement is valid for the older population as well. But, the young differ from the old primarily by being more and deeper affected by the modernization processes. This research confirmed that the young are not a homogenous social group, where we need to emphasize that this is not a specific trait of the young, but also of all relatively larger social groups. The Croatian young differ considerably among themselves, in regard to their educational achievements, and type of socialization depending on gender, the social position of the family, the urbanization of their environment and the development of the region they live in. These socio-structural and socio-cultural characteristics clearly discriminate the young, which results in their differentiation in the acceptance of various values and the forming of various value systems, as well as the internalization of various behavioral patterns. Although our research involved a wide range of problems, the results obtained do not allow statements about an unequivocally recognizable and specific generation of Croatian youth. Indeed, the existing differences, placed in the real social context, marked by the thorough elimination of youth from the public scene, point more to the hypothesis that the fragmentation of youth and social negligence of their interests and problems shall continue, to the measure in which the developmental crisis of Croatian society continues. This development does not tend to lead to the selection, articulation and promotion of common generational interests, much less to the constitution of a single generation or generational units within today's youth, that might show up as a relevant social protagonist on the cultural, social, or political scene. Finally, we should not overlook the fact that our research was conducted three years ago, and that considerable political changes have taken place in Croatia in the meantime. The shift of power at the beginning of 2000 was shown to be, from the point of view of most of the youth questioned, expected and desired, but the question remains, what are the other changes that the young expected but which did not occur. All this influences the perception of social reality to a greater or lesser degree, which is why we can presume that some of the attitudes of the young today already differ from those at the beginning of 1999.

Izvorni jezik

Znanstvena područja



Institut za društvena istraživanja , Zagreb


Avatar Url Vlasta Ilišin (urednik)

Avatar Url Furio Radin (urednik)

Citiraj ovu publikaciju

Youth and Transition in Croatia, Zagreb: IDIZ ; DZZOMM, 2002 (monografija)
Ilišin, V. & Radin, F. (ur.) (2002) Youth and Transition in Croatia. Zagreb, IDIZ ; DZZOMM.
@book{book, translator = {Mende\v{s}, Ivona and Jurko, Lana}, year = {2002}, pages = {354}, keywords = {youth, Croatia, transition, values, politics, nation, education, religion, leisure time, unemployment}, isbn = {953-6218-12-7 (IDIZ)}, title = {Youth and Transition in Croatia}, keyword = {youth, Croatia, transition, values, politics, nation, education, religion, leisure time, unemployment}, publisher = {IDIZ ; DZZOMM}, publisherplace = {Zagreb} }
@book{book, translator = {Mende\v{s}, Ivona and Jurko, Lana}, year = {2002}, pages = {354}, keywords = {youth, Croatia, transition, values, politics, nation, education, religion, leisure time, unemployment}, isbn = {953-6218-12-7 (IDIZ)}, title = {Youth and Transition in Croatia}, keyword = {youth, Croatia, transition, values, politics, nation, education, religion, leisure time, unemployment}, publisher = {IDIZ ; DZZOMM}, publisherplace = {Zagreb} }

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