Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, post-USSR Russia has had to re-define its social landscape. By the mid-1990s young people in Russia were facing high levels of unemployment and rising crime, leaving them feeling increasingly alienated and disillusioned.
Youth policies were put in place which aimed to provide funding for areas such as education, IT, social welfare, employment and cultural affairs. ’Youth of Russia 2006-2010’ had three main goals:
- Encourage young people to get involved in social practice and politics.
- Utilize young people’s innovative skills, improve access to computers and encourage young entrepreneurs.
- Integrate young people from difficult backgrounds into society, including migrants, orphans and the disabled.
As cultural globalization spread from the West young people in Russia began to absorb commonly used Western cultural practices.
Social media brings people together from around the world, but it can also unite people in the same country. In a country as large as Russia, where young people in particular can feel isolated in remote areas, it is an important means of communicating. VKontakte (VK) is the Russian version of Facebook that has 239 million accounts. Young people share jokes, news stories, photos etc. English is the default language and there are plans to expand the site into non-Russian countries. Online communication is fast becoming a part of everyday life. Instant messaging applications like ICQ and Skype are also popular, as is blogging with LiveJournal being one of the biggest blogging sites in Russia.
Russian teenagers take part in the same pastimes as Western teens. The enjoy sport, both as spectators and participants and there are a lot of facilities available to them, for example, open-air skating rinks in the winter. Young Russians enjoy going to the cinema and hanging out at shopping malls, the same as lots of teenagers the world over. Gaming is also big in Russia. With over 46m gamers, Russia ranks as number 12 in terms of global game revenues. TV reality shows are also popular.
Young people in Russia seem to be becoming increasingly interested in helping those less fortunate than themselves. There’s a shift in popular role models, with young people admiring politicians and celebrities involved in altruistic activities. Environmental issues are also a priority.
Increased internet usage means that young people around the world are becoming more homogenized. Young people in the Russia of today are barely recognizable from the youths who lived under state socialism; they have a great deal more freedom. This new generation has a whole new world of choice open to them…