9.1 General context
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Global warming, pollution, sustainability
Based on public opinion polls commissioned by the Office of the President of Hungary (2012-), János Áder, draws attention to the importance of
- environmental protection,
- environmental pollution and
For this reason, in preparation for the 2015 United Nations Climate Conference in Paris, the 'Our Living Planet' ('Élő Bolygónk') website was created where Hungarians could be informed about the climate protection actions.
The petition available at the website was signed by 196 699 individuals, civil organisations, and schools. The President continued this activity after the climate summit, not only calling attention to the issues on various conferences ('Áder János köztársasági elnök beszéde'), but calling the leaders of the World to fight for sustainability.
- Global warming,
- water shortages,
- decreasing energy sources and
- climate change
are the themes of the Week of Sustainability Issues (Fenntarthatósági Témahét) launched in 2016 to raise awareness of
- young people,
- primary and secondary school students.
'Global education serves the purpose of globalisation as a result of increasing social, economic, technological, political, demographic and environmental inequalities and global processes. Its aim is to improve the participation of society; to increase their responsibility for future generations and to develop their attitudes and competencies.
This is achieved through the development of a dynamic, active learning process and the development of a system that focuses on relationships in an ever changing global society, that includes all individuals and their near and far environments. It prepares to assess the place, role and responsibility of the individual, defining individual and community responsibility in global processes. It aims at open thinking; critical thinking; global solidarity, and conscious cooperation.' [Concept for Global Responsibility Education in Formal and Non-Formal Education in Hungary (Koncepció a globális felelősségvállalásra nevelésről a formális és nem-formális oktatásban Magyarországon)]
Social inequality, poverty
The issue of social inequality affecting youth is addressed in Parliamentary Decision no. 88/2009. (X. 29.) on the National Youth Strategy [Országgyűlés 88/2009. (X. 29.) OGY határozata a Nemzeti Ifjúsági Stratégiáról] which set directives to be implemented in the youth field by 2024. The SWOT analysis of the Strategy states that 'there is a significant imbalance in the chances and opportunities of different age groups in terms of access to youth services' and that the employment rate and wages of young people are 'territorially unequal'. (For more information about the National Youth Strategy see sub-chapter 1.3 National Youth Strategy.) [National Youth Strategy 2009-2024 (Nemzeti Ifjúsági Stratégia 2009-2024)]
It emphasises that
'today's decisive regional and ethnic inequalities must be significantly reduced. Children should be brought up in a safe environment to reduce the incidence of deviancy, destroying life chances. Disadvantaged ''child generations'' should be allowed for social mobility.' [National Youth Strategy 2009-2024 (Nemzeti Ifjúsági Stratégia 2009-2024)]
It is possible to volunteer at many Hungarian non-profit environmental organisations, especially in the field of nature conservation. Nevertheless, neither the Hungarian jargon nor the relevant laws (for example the Voluntary Law - Önkéntes törvény) nor the organisations themselves use a separate term for volunteers participating in this type of activity.
Based on the Voluntary Work additional module of the Labor Force Survey, (Munkaerő-felmérés, 2014. I. negyedévi Önkéntes munka című kiegészítő felvétele) completed in the 1st quarter of 2014 by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, it turned out that in 2014, 93 000 people were involved in any kind of environmental and animal protection volunteering activities: 21% of them - on their own account - regularly, 79% of them occasionally. Almost 90% of them engaged directly, while the rest did so both directly and through an organisation. In 2014, among environmental and animal protection volunteers, 58% were men and 42% were women. However, volunteers in the organisation have slightly more (roughly 55%) women than men. [Voluntary Work additional module (Munkaerő-felmérés, 2014. I. negyedévi Önkéntes munka)]. There is no data available separately for youth in this survey.
In addition to the aforementioned research, the results of the Voluntarism in Hungary 2018 (Önkéntesség Magyarországon 2018) research was published in 2019. It turns out that 452 thousand from the 2.2 million volunteers in Hungary work within a formal framework, typically by helping an organisation. 12.4% of that nearly half million volunteers work specifically for an environmental and animal welfare organisation, which means 56 000 people in total, and within this, the number of 18-29 aged is 16 000.
In Hungary, there is a large sample youth research, conducted in every four years among 15-29-year-olds, at a sample of 8 000, the Hungarian Youth Research. The latest was conducted in 2020, and according to the results 1.1% of the respondents indicated that they had carried out voluntary activities related to environmental and animal protection in the year before the survey. [Data source: database of Hungarian Youth 2020 (Magyar Fiatalok 2020)]
Participation of the youth in the life of the settlement
In connection with the implementation of the project no. TÁMOP-5.2.8/12/1-2013-0001 of the Social Renewal Operational Program called 'Support for small community education of youth', an edited volume with the title Support for Small Community Youth Education (Kisközösségi ifjúságnevelés támogatása) was published within the framework of the research and development task 'Development of Small Community Methodology'.
According to the results of the research, at the local level, social participation is neither extensive, nor adequately developed, and the same applies to the advocacy of civic interests in Hungary. The role of youth in these activities is also insignificant. The adult respondents surveyed in the research often expressed their skepticism about the involvement of young people, saying that 'young people are unable to perform certain tasks on their own and therefore cannot be entrusted with more important tasks'. According to the research, younger generations are only treated as 'subjects' or 'host', and in general, they are rather 'considered as a child and not as an adult'. [Support for Small Community Youth Education (Kisközösségi ifjúságnevelés támogatása)]
The researchers showed a collection of initiatives as an example for Hungarian decision-makers by J. Tolmann and K. Pittman (2001). The sample projects have had an impact on the community as a whole, and were implemented with the participation of young people. Three common factors have been identified in the project which characterised the activities organised by young people:
'Motivation - a day-to-day (party, invitation of a friend, community play), individual or group experience that arouses teens' interests and brings them in contact with the initiative/organisation.
Benefits - all the benefits that young people experience in their own lives (e.g. acquiring certain competencies) as an outcome of community collaboration.
Opportunities - situations that are created by joint work and which may affect other aspects of young people’s life' [Support for Small Community Youth Education (Kisközösségi ifjúságnevelés támogatása)]
According to the researchers' experience, there is sufficient motivation since young people's work is also acknowledged by their high schools as part of the school community service that is a prerequisite for matura exams at the end of their studies. Nevertheless, in none of the five settlements that were visited by the researchers did young people have any active involvement in community life. Most of the settlements had a youth strategy, but their practical implementation was hampered in more than one place. It is also unclear whether local youth are specifically involved in the formation of these strategies.
Young people's involvement in organisations focusing on social participation
The 2016 survey of the Hungarian Youth Research (Magyar Ifjúság kutatás 2016) only partly deals with the social and public participation of young people aged 15-29. It collects data on being connected to civil society organisation, movement or community in the year before the survey was administered. 25% of the 8 000 respondents answered with 'yes' to the question:
- 9% are members of a student organisation,
- 2% are associated with a trade union, and
- an additional 1-1% are members of public affairs organisations, political youth organisations, political parties, local affairs organisations, human rights or peace movements.
The same survey in 2020 [Hungarian Youth 2020 (Magyar Fiatalok 2020)] did not ask the same questions. However, young people were asked if they had done any voluntary work. 8% had volunteered in the year before the survey:
- 6.7% had helped a non-profit organisation,
- 4.3% had helped through a local authority,
- 1.7% had volunteered through a church organisation and
- 1.5% had volunteered through a business organisation or company. [Data source: database of Hungarian Youth 2020 (Magyar Fiatalok 2020)]
Political and public interests
Active Young People in Hungary (Aktív Fiatalok Magyarországon kutatás)
According to data from the first (2012) and the second (2013) waves of Active Young People in Hungary which studied Hungarian university and college students, interest in public issues and social problems was higher than their political interest.
In 2013, nearly two-thirds of the respondents were interested in public issues and social problems, and only one-tenth of them were not interested. On the contrary, political interest was lower: only one in three was interested in politics. [Rational Rebellious Students II (Racionálisan lázadó hallgatók II.)] However, by 2015, the proportion had fallen to 53 per cent, and by 2019, researchers had measured 55 per cent. [Active Young People in Hungary Research. Fourth wave. (Aktív Fiatalok Kutatás. Negyedik hullám.)]
The research has pointed out that the more public issues are part of discussions at home or between friends, the higher the level of public interest is. Religiousness and belonging to a religious community also increase public affinity. The public interest of the respondents is explicitly gender-dependent: men are more interested in politics. [Rational Rebellious Students II (Racionálisan lázadó hallgatók II.)]
In 2019, the public interest of young people was also measured with a question where they had to evaluate on a 1-5 scale how often they discuss public issues in different social environments. The results showed that they talk about public issues
- at home: in average of 3.8 points regularly and in average of 3 points occassionally,
- in school: in average of 3.3 points regularly and in average of 3 points occassionally,
- with their friends: in average of 3.8 points regularly and in average of 3.1 points occassionally. [Active Young People in Hungary Research. Fourth wave. (Aktív Fiatalok Kutatás. Negyedik hullám.)]
'Universities and College Students in Hungary 2015' ('Egyetemisták és főiskolások Magyarországon 2015')
According to the results of the study 'Universities and College Students in Hungary 2015' ('Egyetemisták és főiskolások Magyarországon 2015'), the most frequent protest form among students was to sign a petition (29% have done it already). The proportion of those who donated to organisations of parties rose from 16 to 28 % between 2013 and 2016. The third most popular form of participation was collecting signs (27%). 20% of them participated in demonstrations, and 10% in spontaneous movements. [University and College Students in Hungary, 2015 (Egyetemisták és főiskolások Magyarországon, 2015)]
Hungarian Youth research
Generally, young people in Hungary have a low level of political interest. The above-mentioned Hungarian Youth research also has interesting results in the theme. The lowest average value was measured in 2012 since 2000 (averaging 1.89 on the scale of 1 to 5), and the interest has increased by 2020 to 2.43.
- 50% of young people are not interested at all,
- 31% are barely interested in politics, and
- 19% are interested in politics.
Political interest is particularly high among 25-29 year olds and young people living in the capital. It is also high among university graduates (or those who are currently studying at university level) and among those who classify themselves as upper-middle or upper-middle class. In contrast, they are more open to public affairs than politics. [Data source: database of Hungarian Youth 2020 (Magyar Fiatalok 2020)]
Millennial Dialogue project
The purpose of the Millennial Dialogue project is to better understand the Y generation through empirical research conducted in numerous countries around the World. The programme was launched by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) in Brussels and the American Global Progress with the help of the AudienceNet public opinion research company.
According to a study on Hungary, published in 2016, 'the interest of Hungarian youth in politics is extremely low.' Barely more than a quarter of them are interested in politics, but 6 per cent of them are very interested in the topic. One-third of them totally disengage from politics. At the same time, older respondents are more interested in politics than younger people.
Only 17% of the 15-17-year-olds, but 32% of 30-34 year-olds are interested in politics. Those with a high income are twice as interested in politics as the average. However, young people with middle and low income do not show significant deviation from the average. [Policy value of Y-generation in Hungary and the region [The political value system of the Y generation in Hungary and in the region (Az Y-generáció politikai értékrendje Magyarországon és a régióban)]
For more details and other aspects of youth participation see chapter 5. Participation.