Attitudes of Young Russians Changing Rapidly and in Contradictory Ways, New Surveys Show

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 17, 2019)

Three new surveys show that the attitudes young Russians have about a wide variety of issues are changing rapidly and in internally inconsistent ways, something Stoletie commentator Andrey Sokolov says is worrisome because it means they lack a systematic worldview on the basis of which Russia’s future depends.

The first poll, conducted by the St. Petersburg Center for Political and Psychological Research, asked 887 young people to rank seven values in terms of their importance to the members of this group. The center’s director, Valentin Semyonov discussed the results of Sokolov (stoletie.ru/obschestvo/terajem_molodozh_262.htm).

If one asks young people whether they are believers, the sociologist says, more than 50 percent of Russian young people “always” respond that they are. But when asked to rate faith among other values, faith turns out to be in last place by a significant amount, something of concern to religious groups.

Those who follow Russian Orthodoxy “of course are much more numerous than representatives of other confessions, although their number is falling while the number of those who are Muslims is obviously growing,” Semyonov says.

A major reason for faith being ranked last, the pollster continues, is “the unceasing liberal attacks on the church,” a barrage that affects young people more than anyone else. But another includes the mistakes church leaders make, mistakes “which the liberal godless use very cleverly” against the church.

There is some good news regarding beliefs, however, Semyonov says. Not long ago, young people said they believed in fortune tellers and extrasensory types by a large margin. Now, only 12 percent say they do, and 69 percent say they do not believe in them. But other findings of the St. Petersburg survey are less welcome to Orthodox Russians.

Only a few years ago, Russian young people were very much against single-sex marriages, but now among students at middle schools, 35 percent say they are permissible, and only 47 percent say they aren’t. What is interesting is that young men are far more positive about them – 42 percent – than young men – 28 percent.

The share of young people who believe that the state should impose moral restrictions on television programming has also dropped, from about 80 percent a decade ago to 45 percent now. Thirty-two percent say that such controls are not necessary.

With regard to the happiest time in the history of their country, only eight percent pointed to the present, 12 percent to the tsarist past, but 42 percent to the Soviet period. But today’s young Russians, the survey found, are fare more individualistic than collectivist, a reversal of the situation of only six years ago.

A second poll, this one also conducted among young people in the Northern Capital by A.V. Klyuyev found similar internal contradictions. Two-thirds of young there wanted to move abroad permanently but about half wanted to build “an honest society of people of labor” within Russia.

Klyuyev suggested that the views of young people are being formed by “some internet-kaleidoscope” and change constantly given “the absence of any more or less clearly defined worldview.”

The third poll was conducted by the Young Guard of United Russia. It surveyed 7559 young Russians across the country about what they want in life. Most are focused on themselves or on family life. Just over half want to have only one or two children. They want to be well-off and to travel.

In reporting this survey, Sokolov says he is troubled by the fact that it didn’t focus on such vitally important questions as patriotism, relations with the Church, the army, and willingness to defend Russia. If the Young Guard doesn’t consider these critical issues, he wonders, who is going to?

But it did come up with one extremely interesting and topical set of data. It turns out that “the majority of the representatives of the young do not know through which channels of communication, they can report their opinions or ideas to the powers that be: 44.1 percent of them noted that the issue of the existence of such channels is a serious question for them.”

[Article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/05/attitudes-of-young-russians-changing.html]