"What the thing is the youth?"
Discussion in the "Grazhdanin politolog" was began with such question
March 29. Director of the Center for Youth Studies Elena Omelchenko and fellow of the Centre for the Study of Civil Society and Human Rights (Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of St. Petersburg State University) Karin Clement took part in the discussion. The former researcher studying the youth directly, the latter –in mass protests.
The host Dmitry Travin (head of the "Center for modernization studies" of the European University at St. Petersburg) asked questions that defined the course of the discussion. Issues was concerned not only about the protests of the 26th of March. Both speakers began their arguments from earlier events. Elena Omelchenko recalled the events of 2011-2012, and Karin Clement began her speech with events of 2005 against the monetization of benefits. Dmitri asked difficult and provocative questions about the conformist attitudes of youth. However, both speaker turned the discussion towards the inclusion of youth, its sincere interest and desire to understand what processes occur in society. The youth, according to the researchers, announced himself as a new political rather civil subject. A retrospective view only helped to prove it.
Elena Omelchenko reminded that youth is very heterogeneous and now, there are many youth activist groups, who declare their "right to the city". The researcher cited the examples of youth initiatives that "cleanse" the city from the prostitution advertising, struggle with drinking alcohol and smoking in public places etc. Such initiatives involve youth to the political life. Elena also noted that the government, wittingly or unwittingly, helped the youth to take such a step – to participate in unauthorized rally.
Karin noted that there is a powerful patriotic discourse in schools and institutions which motivate young people to participate in politics. This happens, in particular, through the development of political and critical thinking. Young people became more reflexive and rally participants have their answers to the question “what's the point of the protest”. Karin said that nobody needs the protest in the sake of protest. Study of grassroots initiatives in different cities shows that participants of each movement defined their own meanings to their movements.
The researchers also agreed on the fact that Navalniy’s investigations became the tipping point that helped to canalize the rally. However, the motivation of each participant was formed by their own life experience and encounter with inequality and injustice. The modern means of communication (Internet, social networks, instant messengers, etc.) were even more important in organization of the protests than the video of Navalniy.
Themes of the Crimea, modern political technologies, the influence of the old "Surkov's" movements in modern initiatives were also mentioned. The full transcript of the meeting may be read on "Grazhdanin politolog".