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Session Overview
RN30_02c_P: Solidarity and Trust
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Kristoffer Chelsom Vogt, University of Bergen
Location: PC.3.16
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 3.

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Transitions to activism: young people, politics, and solidarity

Ilaria Pitti1,2, Paolo Zurla2

1rebro University, Sweden; 2University of Bologna, Italy

In combination with the upsurge of the different crises that have invested Europe in the last decade, many grass-root initiatives of solidarity have been started all over the continent by extra-parliamentary political groups with the aim of proposing alternative answers to the increased difficulties affecting vulnerable populations. These projects commonly share a critical opinion on the institutional management of social disadvantages and, in most cases, they see young people occupying a leading role in providing help to underserved social groups. The proposed contribution is based on the analysis of different initiatives of solidarity toward migrants, refugees, and homeless people carried out by youth leftist groups in two medium-large cities in Italy and Sweden. Data have been collected in 2016 through observations in different participatory settings and biographical interviews with young activists and will be analysed in order to explore the emerging combination of social volunteering and political activism in young people’s alternative styles of engagement. Underlining differences and similarities between the two local contexts, the presentation focuses on the role that solidarity initiatives acquire in the groups’ political action and in the young individuals’ paths of activism. Far from being detached from political struggle, social volunteering assume a series of key functions, becoming a mean of recruitment and formation of new members at the group level, and a space for the progressive acquisition and experimentation of the identity of activist at the individual level.

The Armenian Youth in the Post-Soviet Context: Some important findings from the Armenian Youth Study 2016

Sona Balasanyan1,2, Harutyun Vermishyan1

1Yerevan State University, Armenia; 2Caucasus Research Resource Center- Armenia

Throughout the last 30 years the Republic of Armenia has undergone serious social, political and economic shocks (the 1988 earthquake, National movement, collapse of the Soviet Union, war in the Nagorno-Karabakh, drastic institutional transformations), the influence of which is vital in all of the spheres of the social life. The Armenian youth is one particular bearer of this reality, in particular the Armenian citizens of 14-29 (born after 1987), whose socialization process has been accompanied by the described social shocks.

The research (funded by Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung: The model and point of orientation for the study is the renowned Shell Youth Study, which is being carried out in Germany since 1953) has been conducted to reveal the lifeworld and dispositions of the Armenian youth in the ever changing contemporary Armenia through the summary of the persistent social condition. The objectives of this research are directed to the exploration of the following problems: satisfaction, trust, attachment, association, activity and integration. The research consisted of both quantitative (standardized interviews conducted, n=1200) and qualitative (16 Focus Group Discussions) methods.

The findings reveal the present-day life of youth in Armenia in the context of value clashes, contradictions in social reality, as well as the traditional cultural and national context. Findings demonstrating the existence of tendencies typical to post-Soviet societies are striking in their contradictions. The gender, age, type of residence, income, and education of the youth questioned were important determining factors of their perceptions and attitudes.


Ken Roberts1, Siyka Kovacheva2

1University of Liverpool, United Kingdom; 2University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

This paper presents evidence from interviews in 2015-16 with a nationally representative sample of Tunisia’s 15-29 year olds. We focus on the sample’s political participation and orientations during the revolution of 2011 and subsequently. We find that just 6.6 percent of those aged 15-24 at the time played any direct part in the ‘events of 2011’. Political engagement then and subsequently is shown to have been influenced most strongly by a university education and growing-up in a politically engaged family. In 2015-16 the young people were overwhelmingly pro-democracy, supported equal opportunities and status for the sexes, and endorsed self-expression values, but attached equal importance to economic security and betterment, felt that their country’s traditions should be maintained and respected, and were personally religious though three-quarters wanted religion to be kept out of politics and government. Although Tunisia is the sole Arab Spring country to emerge with a still functioning (in 2016) multi-party democracy, we find that in 2015-16 the majority of young people did not trust their elected politicians. Our survey findings suggest explanations for the paradox between young Tunisians’ overwhelming support for democracy alongside intense disappointment with the outcomes.

Challenges and prospects for the cross-cultural studies of the youth worldview

Nikolai Narbut, Irina Trotsuk

Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, Russian Federation

The Sociological Laboratory of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia with the support of the Russian Foundation for Humanities has conducted a number of comparative studies on the representative samples of student youth in different countries. These surveys allowed identifying both the key values of the younger generations and the main challenges of the comparative analysis. We summarize such challenges as follows: applying research techniques to the sample in another country – both in translating and adapting them to different social realities and worldview; choosing ‘right’ respondents to question and relevant cases (cultures) to study; designing the research scheme, etc. Nevertheless, the empirical data reveal interesting similarities and differences in the youth perception of the nowadays realities, for instance, through identification of the level of the student youth social trust and distrust. Thus, there is a huge difference in the level of trust to the main governing bodies: in Russia and Kazakhstan, about 60% of respondents claim to trust the government and the president, while in Serbia and the Czech Republic, the share of such is four to five times less. However, the other data does not allow making conclusions on the similarities of the post-Soviet countries’ student youth worldview as compared to the post-socialist countries of Europe for the levels of trust to social institutions are too different. This probably points not only to real discrepancies in perceiving social institutions, but also to the differing expectations for each of them, and the mismatching definitions of trust.

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