Handbook of the Sociology of Youth in BRICS Countries
Youth are, by definition, the future. This book brings initial analyses to bear on youth in the five BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which are home to nearly half of the world's youth. Very little is known about these youth outside of their own countries since the mainstream views on "youth" and "youth culture" are derived from the available literature on youth in the industrialized West, which is home to a small part of the world's youth. This book aims to help fill in this gap.
The handbook examines the state of youth, their past, present and permits the development of insights about future. The BRICS countries have all engaged in development processes and some remarkable improvements in young people's lives over recent decades are documented. However, the chapters also show that these gains can be undermined by instabilities, poor decisions and external factors in those countries. Periods of economic growth, political progress, cultural opening up and subsequent reversals rearticulate differently in each society. The future of youth is sharply impacted by recent transformations of economic, political and social realities. As new opportunities emerge and the influence of tradition on youth's lifestyles weakens and as their norms and values change, the youth enter into conflict with dominant expectations and power structures.
The topics covered in the book include politics, education, health, employment, leisure, Internet, identities, inequalities and demographics. The chapters provide original insights into the development of the BRICS countries, and place the varied mechanisms of youth development in context. This handbook serves as a reference to those who are interested in having a better understanding of today's youth. Readers will become acquainted with many issues that are faced today by young people and understand that through fertile dialogues and cooperation, youth can play a role in shaping the future of the world.
The life course is becoming more flexible and more amenable to personal adjustment for contemporary youth. The process and timing of entering adulthood is expanding due to longer education and the search for oneself. Young people in contemporary Russia do not rush to acquire social statuses that were once so desirable in Soviet times, i.e. that of a parent, employee, and family person. Today, prestige is based on acquiring a good education and career, processes on which they are betting (Blum et al., 2009: 158–159).
Young people also have very specific demands for quality: quality of life, quality of intimate relations, and quality of parenting. All of this has motivated young people to ceaselessly look for an appropriate job, home, partner, and to invest in their children, preferring quality to quantity.
Efficient family-planning tools have separated marital, reproductive, and sexual behavior, transforming these into three different spheres of self-fulfillment. All of these stages, now stretched out through time, reflect individual needs and perspectives. The increasing dispersal of timing of marital relations and childbearing reveals that young people are postponing important demographic events further and further.
Russians have only recently acquired the opportunity to efficiently manage the most prolific period of their lives — youth. They attempt to start planning their lives as early as possible and to construct it sequentially in a personally tailored way.
Russia has been reforming its political, economic and social sectors for more than 20 years now. During this time the social structure has changed significantly as have the institutes and the entire system of social relations. Russian people have changed as well – researchers frequently record processes that show dynamics of their consciousness, norms and values specifics; however, researchers often emphasize that the changes appear to be ambiguous and complicated. Russian youth is of special interest in this respect. Young Russians were and still are going through secondary socialization in conditions when their identities, norms and values are shaped during the period of ongoing country-wide transformations that overlap with the large-scale worldwide processes of globalization, international division of labor, emersion of new kinds of inequality and new risks. Besides, the country’s future will be largely determined by norms and values of today’s Russian youth, as they will set possible vectors of development that may be accepted by the population in the medium and long run.
Similarly, Western researchers have long been focusing their attention on the youth group, their changing values and attitudes as well as comparison of this group with the older generation to determine the cultural dynamics vector or explore it as an actor, for which manifestation of deviant practices is most typical. Problems of youth values and attitudes are obviously relevant to the BRIC countries as they raise the question of what transformations can be initiated by the change of values shared by the new generation, whose socialization was influenced by fundamentally different conditions vs. the older generation of their population. In this context there is no surprise that researchers from BRIC perform comparisons of different generations within the country’s population, including cross-country comparisons of generations’ value systems.
Analysis of youth identities, norms and values is an important research objective for Russia. To assess the country’s cultural dynamics vector and forecast development of modernization processes, it is essential to identify which changes in the young people reflect the processes typical for the cultural dynamics of the entire population and which relate only to young Russians; understand which changes bring the Russian youth close to the youth in other BRIC countries and which changes separate them. This chapter is trying to find the answers to these questions.
The paper observes the main patterns of youth consumption and leisure in contemporary Russia. It relies on the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey of HSE, a set of nationally representative household-based surveys which includes data collected from 1994 to 2013. The data shows that by 2010 the level of youth consumption has risen along with the households’ overall income and expenditure. The alleviation of financial problems prompted the redistribution of time between work and leisure, so youth turned to the active cultural consumption, including non-entertainment services. However, the total increase in products and services consumed went hand in hand with the rise of differentiation in the availability of durables, patterns of consumption and leisure practices.
In Lieu of an Abstract
Youth in Russia has been undergoing massive dynamic changes in terms of marriage and sexuality over the past two decades. This is one of the main factors that determine the norms and trends in contemporary family evolution. These were caused both by universal processes common to all the developed countries, and the huge radical shifts are induced by reforms in the post-Soviet society. Among the most important changes are an increased age of first marriage, a growing divorce rate, an increasing number of single-parent families, a rising extended family ratio (i.e. married couples or mothers with children living with their parents or other relatives) and non-cohabitating married couples. We can identify some other trends, not only in behavior, but also in the perception Russians have of family and marriage (SDDR, 2010: 65–75)…