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The youth: changing values

Transformations in conditions of life are undoubtedly reflected in changes of a person’s value system. Psychologists are particularly interested in changes of youth’s vital values, since youth is the most sensitive and mobile part of the society. In Russia, the issue was investigated by Nadezhda Zhuravleva, research assistant of the Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences.

The research carried out since 1994 through 2003 analyzed dynamics of youth’s value orientation under the influence of drastic transformations of the Russian society. As the most active personal self-determination occurs at the senior school age and continues during the student period, the research involved the Moscow schoolchildren from the 10-11 grades and students of the Moscow institutes. The time of survey was chosen in such a way that it would take place during relatively calm social and economic periods (no less than a year after an acute economic crisis). For the first time the value orientation status was assessed in autumn 1994, after the 1992-1993 acute social-economic crisis, then – during a relatively stable autumn 1997, then – in a year after the 1998 economic default – in autumn 1999. The fourth and the fifth stages of the investigation were accomplished in spring 2001 and in autumn 2003 – in economic stabilization conditions.

If we compare senior pupils of 2003 with their coevals of the mid 1990s (1994 and 1997) it becomes evident that importance of social responsibility values has grown up for them: the family has moved from the 5th to the 4th place, responsibility – from the 11th to the 3rd place, and business activity values: job (from the 10th to the 5th place), material well-being (from the 8th to the 6th place), efficiency in business (from the 12th to the 8th place), enterprising (from the 13th to the 9th place) and rationalism (from the 18th to the 15th place). It is interesting to note that value orientation changed non-uniformly during the investigated period. Thus, if importance of job, enterprising and responsibility was increasing from stage to stage??, the value of the family, for example, demonstrated stable growth through 1999, but in 2003 it somewhat decreased - from the 2nd to the 4th place, and beauty – shifted from the 15th to the 8th place in 2001, but in 2003 it returned to the 12th place.

Thus, it is significant that the emphasis shifted from orientation on creative self-actualization and ethic values towards business activity and pragmatism. In terms of the value system, students turned out to be more united then schoolchildren, apparently the students have a better formed the value system.

In 1994 through 2001, importance of scholarship (the 1st place), values of social and psychological comfort were taking on special significance: love (the 2nd place), self-reliance (shifted from the 9th to the 5th -7th place), pragmatic values: efficiency in business (shifted from the 13th to the 5th place), enterprising (shifted from the 11th to the 2nd place) and economic values: wealth (shifted from the 14th to the 10th place) and property (shifted from the 18th to the 12th place). But in 2003, as compared to 2001, significance of some values, which previously grew up steadily, decreased unexpectedly: the “enterprising” rank fell down to the 1997 level, and “self-reliance” – down to the 1994 level.

On the other hand, the values, importance of which was steadily decreasing since 1994 through 2001, strengthened: honesty (shifted from the 3rd to the 11th place), good breeding (shifted from the 6th to the 18th place), tolerance (shifted from the 5th to the 7th place), delicacy (shifted from the 17th to the 19th place) and breadth of views (shifted from the 9th to the 13th place). In 2003, these values turned out to occupy the following positions: honesty – the 4th place, good breeding and breadth of views - the 13th place, self-control –the 5th place, tolerance –the 6th place, and delicacy - the 17th place.

Thus, regardless the general trend for transvaluation of values to shift towards business activity and pragmatic approach, recent years experienced some return to the position of the early 90s of the last century, that is towards more distinct person’s ethic values orientation.

Sergey Komarov | alfa
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