The young people and politics article


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The young people and politics article

  1. 1. THE YOUNG PEOPLE AND POLITICS Pavla Karba, ZRSŠ »The twelfth of August is the International Youth Day. One-fifth of the world’s population is young, while only every eighth citizen in the EU is considered young«. Source: and definition of the young peopleA completely uniform definition of young people and youth in fact does not exist. Youth is acomplex construct, comprising age, society, ideology and symbolism. The concept includesseveral intermingling dimensions and criteria. Defining young people is in every society as arule carried out according to its needs, characteristics and ideology. I will nevertheless pointout two quite heterogeneous criteria.The criterion of intermingling dimensionsAccording to these criteria the concept of young people and youth refers to (Ule 1996:10): - the phase in the individual’s lifespan; - the social group characterised by certain forms of behaviour which can be recognised in everyday life, in culture, politics etc; - the incomplete social status which is recognised as »immaturity«; - the ideal qualitative concept, for example the term youth evoking vitality, freshness and vivaciousness.The age criterionAccording to the criteria set by the United Nations, the population of young people includespeople aged between 15 and 24. According to the criteria adopted by some Europeancountries – Slovenia is among them – the young people are those aged between 15 and 29.Defining the concept politicsThe definition of the concept is presented with the help of the texts from three differentsources: a) Politics is in a narrower sense understood as directing the society by means of the state apparatus, while in a wider sense politics means guiding man’s activities of any kind in a certain direction in order to achieve certain goals. The characteristic of political activism is that decision making and implementation depend on the network of formal and informal connections between persons or perpetrators of actions. Political
  2. 2. activities in modern societies are not uniform, the plural s in politics is thus justified (politics Wikipedija…). b) Politics is basically a way in which a country is lead and run. Politics can be formed at different social fields marked by state interventions, we can therefore also talk of multitude of different politics. These social fields are defence, health system, culture, sports, agriculture, education etc. Politics can also denote power struggle, since many people or social groups want to be in power and obtain authority to make decisions about how their country and citizens should act and which goals are to be followed. (Cerar 2009: 69). c) Politics is a process in which people make common decisions concerning all members of a particular community. Politics is a societal process which establishes norms (law), authority, power and individual ways of problem-solving in a community (e.g. economic policies, educational policies). The expression also covers the entire sphere of managing common issues, individuals, ways, procedures and the institutions which make these decisions. Politics in a democratic country is in principle a public domain (Karba, Jesenko 2009:20). The essence of the term politics in these texts is more or less the same.Young people are in the 21st century shaping a new structure of valuesThe research »Mladina 2000« (Young People 2000), which was carried out in Slovenia, andthe World Values Survey, which was carried out in 43 countries, revealed the following: - young people are becoming increasingly sensitive to fundamental moral questions: personal integrity, search for the meaning of life with the emphasis on personal growth, aspiration for independence without aloofness and presumptuousness, solidarity and acceptance of otherness/tolerance. These values are for example manifested by their voluntary participation in humanitarian campaigns; - young people are becoming increasingly sensitive for environmental issues, this is manifested by their voluntary participation in various environmental campaigns; - young people resist everything which restricts them, makes them dependent, e.g. ideologies; - at their workplaces young people attribute as much importance to stimulating environment as to good salaries; - young people are increasingly turning to privacy, virtual (computer) environments are becoming essential for them; - young people refuse the norms of collective behaviour and collective duties, they strive for individual ethics. Characteristic of the emerging value structure of the young people in Slovenia and in Europe is that it is less and less influenced by major societal ideologies, such as politics or religion – this void is being filled by parents, peers, school, media, advertising industry and, recently, virtual environments. 2
  3. 3. The research into young people’s attitudes show the shift from »material-career values« to»postmaterial-personal values«.The question remains open how the present harsh and uncertain economic situation willaffect the manifested shifting of values in young people.Young people’s attitude towards politicsThe said research reveals that among young people in Slovenia, as well as among youngpeople in other European countries, there is not much interest for politics. On averageonly 13 % of the respondents considered politics very important (only 3 % in Slovenia).Young people turn away from collective politics and adopt individual policies, »policiesof governing their lives«. This is manifested by the fact that political parties encounterdifficulties when reaching out for young people. Young people display cynicism towardstraditional politics. The percentage of young people participating in civil socialmovements is also low. The research at the same time shows that young people’s interestin politics increases with the academic level and age.When asked about their trust in politicians and political parties, the majority of youngpeople in Slovenia who responded to the research survey »Mladina 2000« said they didnot trust them, only the President of the Republic of Slovenia gained some more trust. Theresearch reveals that young people have no distinct left or right political views. More than50 % of the respondents consider personal freedom as the most important value. It isinteresting, however, that the average age the respondents deemed appropriate for beingelected into the Parliament was 19,26, and 19,74 to be elected president (source Mladina2000). The research shows that young people do not believe politicians when they saythey take into account their opinions. Young people are disappointed by personal traits ofpoliticians as manifested by their conduct.Peter Debeljak, the director of the Office of Youth at the Ministry of Education and Sport,points out »that participation of young people in politics is measured by classic means,such as their turnout at elections, membership in organisations, public manifestations ofviews etc. Yet this is not sufficient, because young people today participate in other ways.An example of this are web forums…«Majda Jus Ašič, the school psychologist at Vič Grammar School in Ljubljana, observesthat »young people have a lot of creative ideas how to put things in their right place, butthey unfortunately do not represent a group which would be of interest to politicians, sotheir voice does not count.«We should now ask ourselves which values young people should have according to theadopted directives concerning active citizenship. 3
  4. 4. Active citizenship first requires possibilities and rights. Let’s point out the following: education is not recognised as active work, young people acquire the right to vote when they are already active consumers, thus obtaining independence, employment and a flat is prolonged into their thirties… Such is the situation in Slovenia and also in the majority of European countries. These are formal obstacles preventing young people to become active citizens. Young people thus enter into adulthood as private and not public persons, and as such they are interested more in personal than communal well-being. The way the second-year student Grega Ulen from Vič Grammar School in Ljubljana sees a future active European citizen.Note: In 2009 the Council of Europe celebrated its 60th anniversary, they honoured thisoccasion with awards for an essay writing competition on national levels, the title was How do youimagine the European citizen of the future?. The winner from Slovenia was Grega Ulen from theclass 2.D of Vič Grammar School, who was, together with his mentor Prof. Marjetka Krapež,from the 30th of September to the 2nd of October visiting Strasbourg and attended thecelebration on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Council of Europe. 4