Citizenship of Russian Youth: The Search for an Effective Methodology
In this article we are going to discuss the methodological challenges and perspectives of empirical research of citizenship conducted by the Centre for Youth Studies. The study was implemented in the framework of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) in 2013. In the contemporary societies citizenship becomes a contested issue, which is an uneasy subject to capture with traditional methodological instruments. However, looking for diverse ways in which modern young people interpret and practice citizenship can help researchers to understand how patterns of participation, being active, and belonging have transformed in the global societies. Therefore, citizenship can itself become a methodological instrument for exploring the social processes. Our recent studies of patriotism (2008-2010) have demonstrated that place of birth, identity and citizenship are disconnectedfor modern young people. Therefore, new indicators and study methods are needed to measure these things in the changing world. In the studies of youth solidarities implemented at the Center for Youth Studies since 2009a composite methodology was developed to address such complex and dynamic phenomena as citizenship. A mixed-method approach including quantitative research, in-depth interviews, ethnography, as well as popular culture analysis allows analyzing different contexts and media in which citizenship is manifested. We approach citizenship not as a formal status, but as a deeper and socially embedded concept, a position, a strategy of planning own biographies and everyday life. Citizenship includes identities, actions, plans, attitudes, and values, requiring specific methods of study. Therefore we refused asking about citizenship directly, but combined quantitative survey focusing on mobility strategies with ethnographies helping to reveal the inclusion of young people in diverse communities, and analysis of music and videos to discover the ideas and notions of citizenship communicated within the sphere of popular culture. However, the methods are connected and build a coherent research structure: mobility, music, and lifestyles are the topics bringing the methodological parts in connection with each other. Juxtaposing the sometimes contradictory results on these topics received with different methods allows revealing the contextualized character of citizenship.