1989 - Young People and Social Change After the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Published on


Some 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall the overall condition of young people in eastern Europe, now integrated into the European Union, has undergone radical change. Today, there are no longer substantial differences separating the young people of western and eastern Europe; the two groups are now to a considerable degree similar - in their vision of themselves and of the world, in their preferred leisure time activities, in the central role in their lives of mobility, in the ways in which their identities are constructed and in the problematic relationship they have with an uncertain future. Generally speaking, the so-called forms of transition towards adulthood seem homogenous - by now more de-standardised than structured - as much in the east as in the west. For young Europeans today, both in the east and in the west, the pertinence of the canonical, tripartite division of the life path identified years back by Martin Kohli - preparation for work, work and retirement - seems long gone (Kohli, 1985). Nevertheless, there still do exist important differences in terms of the resources, in particular, economic resources, that young people in the west and young people in the east dispose of. As is well known, in these terms the latter are significantly more disadvantaged than the former. This book is a selection of the papers presented in the international Seminar on Young People and Social Change after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Anniversary Seminar of Youth Research, Policy and Practice. The seminar, which took place at the Central European University in Budapest on 20 November 2009, was organised by the International Sociological Association, Research Committee 34, Sociology of Youth, whose vice-presidents for Europe at that moment are the authors of this introduction. It was conducted in co-operation with the following bodies: the Directorate for Youth and Sport of the Council of Europe; the partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth; the Centre for the Study of Imperfections in Democracies (DISC), the Central European University; the Italian Sociological Association (AIS); the Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milan-Bicocca; and the University of Lleida. This academic body integrates pan-European institutions, sociological networks and universities in the east and in two Mediterranean countries that have lived, in the past century, through other transitions and other struggles between capitalism and communism and between dictatorship and democracy: Italy and Spain. This demonstrates that the 1989 transitions are not just an eastern issue, but have a European dimension that prefigured the globalisation of youth culture. Nevertheless, the book does not intend to be comprehensive and cover all the countries, regions and aspects: for instance, central Russia, Poland and the Baltic countries are missing, of course not for their lack of importance but because they were not included in the selected papers. The chapters combine qualitative and quantitative approaches, longitudinal and present studies, using diverse methodologies and theoretical frameworks. Most of the authors were born in eastern countries, but we also have representatives of western countries interested in youth transitions in the east. Most of the authors are young and educated after 1989, but we also have persons who grew up before.


Christine Steiner, Herwig Reiter, Ken Roberts, Letterio Pantò, Matthias Wingens, Metka Kuhar, Michaela Pyšňáková, Mirjana Ule, Rory Archer, Rusudan Velidze, Siyka Kovacheva, Smiljka Tomanović, Tatjana Sekulić

Available languages