Pregled bibliografske jedinice broj: 113162
Youth and Politics
Youth and Politics // Youth and Transition in Croatia / Ilišin, Vlasta ; Radin, Furio (ur.).
Zagreb: IDIZ, DZZOMM, 2002. str. 157-204
Youth and Politics
Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija rada
Poglavlja u knjigama, znanstveni
Youth and Transition in Croatia
Ilišin, Vlasta ; Radin, Furio
It is pointless to repeat all the results obtained here ; it would be more useful to recapitulate them briefly and try to get to the bottom of the implications of the tendencies established. What the preceding analysis established without a doubt, is that the young are not a monolithic political body, which was completely expected, for politics are a social phenomenon very tinted by different interests. But, the perception of politics and acceptance of investigated political values, attitudes and forms of behavior are most influenced by the young people's level of education. The effect of education is already such a standard trend that it needs no particular elaboration, it is sufficient to stress that even in the young's relation toward politics their educational level plays one of the crucial roles as it does in most areas of their everyday lives. The socio-professional status, age and party preferences also have a pronounced influence. Since the socio-professional status, education and age are extremely mutually correlated in the observed population, the influence of these attributes can be explained from the viewpoint of the life cycles theory. A greater distance from the world of adults is also reflected in the relationship towards politics, which seems an inaccessible area from the point of view of any adolescent, plus there are no stimuli for being more active. The influence of party preferences is completely expected regarding political issues, and the most interesting thing, in that context, is the polarization into two easily discernible political groups. On the one side there are chiefly the supporters of LS and SDP, among which we registered a large correspondence of social attributes and stated attitudes, and on the opposing pole, there are the sympathizers of HDZ and HSP, whose attitude similarity is also very conspicuous. Positioned between these party groups are the sympathizers of HSLS and HSS (along with the party undecided), which represent a certain average. In the language of the ideological-political spectrum we can say that, in Croatian circumstances, LS and SDP represent the left-wing dimension, HSLS and HSS the center, and HDZ and HSP the right-wing pole. Keeping in mind the results of previous research (i.e. Zakošek, 1996, 1998 ; Ilišin, 1999), a significant shift on the ideological-political scale is visible - we are referring to HSLS, which, after the fraction separation of LS, shifted to the right from the so-called left of center and anchored itself in the (right?) center. It is noticeable that the changes in the profile of the young party supporters coincide with the activities and rhetoric of HSLS. The insights obtained also offer elements for a wider conclusion: in spite of the fact that the structuring of the party scene is not yet complete, it is possible to identify, at least roughly, the socio-structural attributes of the supporters of political parties and the pertaining ideological-political profile of the parties. The influence of the participants' residential status is also pronounced, meaning there are clear differences in the way urban and rural young people conceive politics. Since two fifths of the Croatian population live in rural areas, the center-periphery cleavage is not negligible, especially in the circumstances of an insufficiently formed democratic system. We can only presume that there will be a more significant shift toward greater acceptance of democratic attitudes and behavior patterns with the process of urbanization. A relatively weaker influence was established by the regional status, gender, level of education of the father and religious self-identification of the participants. The influence of these attributes was not minor, but it was also not systematic, it was mostly related to some specific issues and problems within the political field. Besides, research indicates that gender differences in relation to politics are usually sporadic (except in the issue of participation), so it is not surprising that similar results were obtained in this research as well. What is more interesting is that consistent influences fail to appear regarding the three remaining attributes, because fears of possible regional division or excessive penetration of the religious into secular and political life cyclically appear in the public. In other words, if some regional groups or the clerical elite occasionally cause a political storm, the young do not seem to have developed a specific and consistent world-view or ideological-political lens based on their regional status or religious affiliation. Along with this, the absence of the greater influence of the father's education on political attitudes indirectly indicates another, more common trend, a possible weakening of the influence of primary socialization agents in the process of political socialization. This assumption is intriguing - earlier research (for example Dowse and Hughes, 1972 ; Zureik, 1974) indicated that the greatest congruence of attitudes of parents and their children is largest exactly in the field of politics, that is, the young most often reproduce the political convictions of their parents. It is possible that the influence of the family has generally weakened in modern society, especially in the sphere of public life, which is maximally "covered" and exploited by the media, thus becoming one of the most influential socialization agents in contemporary society. All the results obtained point to the conclusion that the relation of the young toward politics is characterized by their relatively solid understanding of social reality, satisfactory level of democratic potential and consent that the young should be more present in Croatian political life. These statements stem from the knowledge that the young emphasize problems of a socio-economic nature (unemployment, economic development) both on the social and generational level, the consequences of which are political priorities: fighting unemployment and ensuring social justice and security. A clear perception of social inequalities in modern Croatian society is also related to that. The young express an extremely high level of acceptance of constitutional values, but about a tenth of them do not consider rule of law, ethic equality and the democratic and multi-party system to be very important as values of the social and political system. Most young people accept the basic democratic values and understand democratic rules, but it is noticeable that over a third of them demonstrate a lack of understanding of conflicts, and most of them incline toward a harmonious conception of politics and express distrust in the highest institutions of state authority. Even if we presume that trust in political institutions grew after the shift of power, it is almost certain that desirable changes, directed toward a better understanding of conflicts and a more realistic understanding of political processes and conflicts, could not have taken place in such a short period. The question will the turbulent economic and political circumstances today - and they are bound to last a while longer - contribute to the development of democratic awareness, or will they stimulate retrograde and undemocratic processes, remains unanswered. Political convictions and attitudes necessarily depend on existing social and political events, and since we are dealing with the young, the problem that there is no adequate education for democracy, should be emphasized at all times. This problem is acute in all transitional societies without a democratic tradition, and there is a need for preparing young people to participate in political life, after coming of age, as conscious and competent citizens, instead as a relatively easily manipulated mass of inhabitants. The young are congruent in their opinion that they are insufficiently represented in the political life of the country, and hence, it is logical that most believe introducing the so-called youth quota is acceptable. Indeed, if we agree with the attitude of D. Nolen (1992:266), who thinks the increase in participation of women in politics, depends on public awareness and the will of political parties to apply an internal party quota in elections, and if we observe the political position of women as analogous to the position of youth, then it would seem that a youth quota is the safest instrument for increasing their participation in the bodies of government. Furthermore, even though the young are more inclined toward social than political activism, this does not prevent them from believing that they should be politically engaged, on both generational and individual levels. They are aware of being marginalized in political life, and they find the reasons for this somewhat less in their own incompetence than in the discouraging social environment. It is indicative that, even though most young people estimate they are politically marginalized, they do not transfer that to their total social position, because only a third of them perceive it as unequal compared to the older population. We could conclude from this that the young do not see politics as an integral part of their everyday life, nor do they perceive political power as one of the most important elements of total social power, and, in the final instance, as a component of their social status. That is why the attitude of the young toward politics can be observed as ambivalent - they believe participation in politics is necessary, but do not recognize the negative influence of the absence of that participation on their total social position. Certainly the fact, that most young people are at the beginning of their life and professional cycle, must contribute to their giving greater thought to their personal future than their generational present, which always seems less difficult if aspirations and ambitions are projected into the future and observed outside the social context. The results of this, and other research, suggest that there are no hints of a (potential) generational conflict in modern Croatia. It would, of course, be wrong to conclude that the intergenerational relations are idyllic, especially if the age stratification is observed integrally: from the young, across the middle-aged population to the people in their so-called golden years. Seen from this perspective and in the light of the results obtained and events in Croatian society, we can say that instead of a conflict of generations there is a peevish inter-generational co-existence on the social scene. This is a context within which the young hold a grudge against everyone older than them for not giving them enough space for social affirmation, the old people are bitter with all the younger ones, for not taking into consideration their earlier merits and present needs, while the so-called middle-aged generation is dissatisfied with the demands of the younger and the elderly who do not seem to accept the fact that they depend on others (to be exact, on the middle-aged generation). Actually, the crisis the Croatian society is in, represses the specific problems of the young and the elderly from the focus of social interest, and the middle-aged generation - burdened by developmental and existential difficulties - disregards the importance of the social reciprocity principle, which warns that the supported members of the community are not parasites: the young should be invested in, because they shall one day be the producers, and the elderly are the ones that created the conditions for life and work of younger generations. Finally, when all the data obtained are put together, it is possible to polarize the young into two large groups. On the one pole, there are the most educated and oldest young people, students (and sometimes employed), the young coming from larger urban centers and supporters of LS and SDP, and, to a lesser degree, participants living in Zagreb, Istria and Primorje, whose fathers are academically educated and not religious. Based on these attributes we can say that these are socially more competent young people. They manifest a higher democratic potential and better understanding of democratic principles, they are less satisfied with their own (generational) political participation and influence, they express more self-awareness and accept the paternalistic social treatment less. On the other pole, there are the youngest, least educated participants, pupils, rural young people and sympathizers of HDZ and HSP, and in some cases, coming from Eastern and Northern Croatia, originating in families where the father has a lower level of education and those declaring themselves as religious. This group of young people demonstrates a weaker understanding and acceptance of democratic principles, is more inclined to see its own generation as politically incompetent and uninterested, and to accept the judgment that the young do not belong in the political sphere for those reasons, and accepts the tutorial relationship of the society toward the young more. It is, thus, obvious that this is a socially inferior group of young people. The tendencies addressed suggest that the interest in politics, and awareness about one's own political significance, increase parallel to education and age, to which wider socialization conditions, as well as internalized political (party) convictions also contribute. In other words, the more socially competent and closer to entering the world of adults the young are, the more aware of their own status in the modern society they become, which results in the appearance of dissatisfaction. The ascribed roles and the roles they feel competent for are in a discrepancy, to their disadvantage, so the treatment of society becomes a problem after they have entered their late twenties. But the awareness of their own political (and especially, social) marginalization is not consistent, and the insight into the events on the political scene shows that there is no generationally articulated political appearance of either the young, or their associations and organizations of the political or non-political type. Since power is a resource which is scarcer than the number of those aspiring to it, and since coordinated and elaborated retaliation by the young toward the older generation, which has the power, are absent, we should not expect the young to obtain the opportunity to decide on the conditions of their own existence, for a long time, in Croatian politics.