Human Rights and Democracy Alert Newsletter - Issue #1 (05.04.2013)

05/04/2013

Supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade, the BKV Fund launches the Human Rights and Democracy Alert project which relies on close cooperation with civil society organizations throughout Serbia. Based on their reports, the BKV Fund will issue a monthly newsletter with a view to alerting the public to incidents and trends of disrespect and violation of human and minority rights, and democratic values.

Almost a decade and a half after the 1990s Balkan wars, Serbia is in the midst of a deep crisis which represents, to the largest extent, a consequence of the destructive policies led at the time. The crisis – which is not only economic – is spread in all walks of life, particularly among the defenseless and marginalized social strata. On a daily basis, the impoverished society faces a sluggish, inefficient and often corrupt administration; low-quality services and poor protection in health care, education, judiciary, media; etc. The disturbed value system and slow development of functional democratic institutions particularly affects the youth who easily become prey of aggressive propaganda inspired by “conspiracy theories”, xenophobia and identification with persons who represent ideas incompatible with contemporary democratic values.

It is for these reasons that the first issue of the HRDA Newsletter is dedicated to a survey researching value standpoints of Serbia’s youth – this will also be one of its focal points in the six-month period of this project.

 

Interaction of values and cultural preferences of high school graduates in Sebia

Center for Study in Cultural Development (http://www.zaprokul.org.rs) undertook a comprehensive survey on the value orientation and ethnic and cultural preferences of high school graduates throughout Serbia. A method of standardized questionnaire covered a sample of 1,733 graduates of 65 high schools – 33 vocational schools and 32 gymnasiums. The survey included “good“ school classes, whereby most of the participating graduates completed their previous school year with high marks. The sample was distributed so that the majority of participants live in urban areas and they mostly declared themselves Serbs of Orthodox confession. Two thirds of the surveyed boys plan to enroll in technical or technological faculties, while the girls are rather oriented towards social studies and humanities. The graduates’ wishes are least oriented towards the sphere of science and mathematics. The participants were born in a period of breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the 1990s Balkan wars, and their childhood and growing up coincided with the “great war of values“, a “war“ between “traditionalists“ and “Europeans“. The period of political, social and cultural changes in the late 20th and early 21st century is a period of growing up and social coming of age for the respondents surveyed. To what extent has all this influenced the high school students’ and graduates’ value attitudes, as it is their choices that will largely determine the future of their society?

 

To what extents are today’s high school graduates oriented towards traditionalist values?

High school graduates in Serbia show a low level of traditionalism. Even if they are traditionalist, their traditionalism is mostly connected with their home and family. More than one third of graduates expressed an undefined attitude towards traditionalism, while the majority of graduates are in the category of mild traditionalism. Gymnasium students are lesser inclined towards traditionalism in comparison with their peers who are graduating from vocational high schools. Despite being a minority, traditionalist graduates mostly believe that their cultural model is dominant, i.e. they behave as if they were the majority, while the non-traditionalists view themselves as members of an alternative cultural model.

 

   Proneness towards traditionalism

% in sample

Not present

12%

Mild

35.3%

Undefined

39.7%

Moderate

12%

Pronounced

1%

Total

100.0%

 

Interestingly, the group of mild traditionalists consists of the majority of females (74.1% as opposed to 25.9% males), whereas boys are more prone to patriarchal standpoints. The level of traditionalism is decreased in an ethnically diverse region such as Vojvodina, whereas it is most pronounced in Belgrade.

 

  Free time activity (3 answers)

Answers

% cases

Number

%

Sleeping, being bored

305

6.7%

20.2%

In the family circle

348

7.7%

23.0%

Watching TV

730

16.1%

48.3%

Internet, games

561

12.4%

37.1%

Reading books

326

7.2%

21.6%

Writing, painting, playing music

160

3.5%

10.6%

Socializing with friends

733

16.2%

48.5%

Going to the cinema, theater, galleries, museums, concerts

136

3.0%

9.0%

Attending sporting events

153

3.4%

10.1%

Going to cafes

572

12.6%

37.8%

Going to betting houses, casinos

80

1.8%

5.3%

Practicing sports

403

8.9%

26.7%

Other

29

0.6%

1.9%

T o t a l

4536

100.0%

300.0%

 

How do non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists, i.e. those prone to traditionalism, spend their free time?

   Non-traditionalists

Traditionalists

Socializing with friends

50.1%

Internet/games

49.7%

Watching TV

47%

Watching TV

41.4%

Going to cafes

36.4%

Socializing with friends

37.7%

Internet/games

31.9%

Going to cafes

34.6%

Reading books

27.3%

Practicing sports

28.8%

Practicing sports

22.2%

Sleeping, being bored

21.5%

In the circle of family

21.2%

In the circle of family

20.95

Sleeping, being bored

13%

Attending sporting events

18.8%

Writing, painting, playing music

12.4%

Reading books

10.5%

Attending cultural events

10.5%

Going to betting houses, casinos

10.5%

Attending sporting events

5.8%

Writing, painting, playing music

5.2%

Going to betting houses, casinos

2.9%

Attending cultural events

4.2%

 

Most of their free time is spent in socializing, leisure and entertainment; the internet comes only fourth. Only a minority spends time in cultural institutions. There is a noticeable difference between those who express traditionalist values and those who do not display, i.e. only mildly express them. Only 5.2% of traditionalists engage in writing, painting, playing music, as opposed to 12.4% of those who have more liberal attitudes. Also, traditionalists read less (10.5% as opposed to 27.3%), spend less time visiting cultural events (4.2% as opposed to 10.5%), but spend more time on sports (practicing, visiting sporting events and betting houses), as well as resting (sleeping and being bored). Graduates who have rather firm traditionalist standpoints spend most of their free time on the internet and playing video games, whereas cultural activities and visiting cultural events come last.

 

Taste in music

Graduates prefer listening to rock, pop and techno music – classical music being their last choice. Domestic pop music is also one of their favorite genres, one preferred more by traditionalists. The least favorite musical genre among traditionalists is jazz; in case of the non-traditionalists it is (turbo)folk.

 

How much do they spend watching TV and on the internet?

Only 4.4% graduates stated that they do not spend time watching TV. Majority of graduates spend up to 3 hours watching TV, both on workdays and weekends – however, there are more of those who watch TV up to 1 hour on workdays, but there is significant increase of persons who spend 3-5 hours watching TV on weekends.

 

   Daily TV watching

Workdays

Weekends

Up to 1 hrs

45.8%

24.1%

1 to 3 hrs

42.8%

45.2%

3 to 5 hrs

9.2%

23.3%

5 to 10 hrs

1.9%

5.5%

More than 10 hrs

0.3%

1.9%

Total

100.0%

100%

 

Graduates mostly follow movies, TV series and music shows; what’s very interesting, they least prefer reality shows and political programs. A noticeable difference between those with higher and lower scores on the scale of traditionalism occurs only in the case of sports shows. Namely, 74.2% of traditionalists and 48.6% of non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists watch this kind of program.

The majority of graduates listen to the radio almost on a daily basis. Only every fifth graduate is a radio “non-listener”. It comes as no surprise that over 80% of higher-achieving students in the final year of high school uses computers every day and that 75% use the internet every day. The majority of graduates – over 85% – have a Facebook account.

 

What do they read?

Non-compulsory literature is not read by 28.6% of traditionalists and 8.4% of non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists. Outside of school activities, graduates mostly read 1-3 books per year. Just one in ten traditionalist graduates reads more than 8 books a year, whereas this number is up to three times higher when it comes to non-traditionally oriented graduates. Only every third moderate and firm traditionalist and every fifth non-traditionalist and mild traditionalist reads newspapers every day. Both groups read magazines regularly – almost two thirds read them at least once a month, and one in four graduates reads a magazine at least once a week.

 

Which cultural events do they attend?

Most commonly, they visit 1-3 cultural events per year. They are mostly attracted by concerts of folk and pop-rock music, as well as libraries. Only one in 13 graduates visits a cultural event more often than once a month. Students with moderate traditionalist standpoints prefer going to the theater, cinema, galleries and museums and they prefer reading books. Unlike them, students with rather firm traditionalist standpoints are more interested in sports and going to betting houses, attending folk music concerts than cultural events (less than half of the traditionalists have visited any cultural institution in the previous 12 months). Female graduates are slightly more interested in attending cultural activities. The only exception is represented by visits to cultural monuments. The most profound difference between sexes pertains to visiting libraries (91.3% of girls have visited a library at least once during the last year, as opposed to 64.6% of boys). This difference is also noticeable when it comes to theater programs (62.1% of girls, 44.8% of boys). On the other hand, sports are an activity preferred by boys.

 

To what extent and in what way do they engage in arts?

Only 28.3% of graduates engage in some kind of artistic practice, while 71.7% do not take part in cultural production. Students who engage in cultural production are mostly dedicated to music and painting (around two thirds), followed by literature (9.4%) and acting (7.5%). Graduates mostly prefer dancing and singing, as it in most cases does not require special skills; their least-preferred activity is handiwork. Girls show a significantly higher interest in reading, engaging with artistic creation and visiting cultural institutions; they spend more time dancing, prefer spending their free time in the circle of family, friends and watching TV. On the other hand, boys spend much more time playing music and acting, they visit betting houses and sporting events. The survey showed that only 15.4% of graduates take part in school extra-curricular clubs.

 

What is their opinion on other peoples?

During the last Balkan wars, high school graduates surveyed here were children. Their attitudes were shaped only after the year 2000. Nevertheless, they express most intolerance towards Albanians and Croats, but also Roma, which testifies to their tendency towards stereotype and prejudice. One in four or five high school graduates opposes contact with other peoples, while one in two (sometimes even more) opposes contact with Albanians, Croats and Roma.

 

Ethnic groups

% of answers in the total sample

Nothing against

Against

Albanians

34.8%

65.2%

Roma

51.3%

48.7%

Croats

57%

43%

Jews

61.1%

38.9%

Americans

63.1%

36.9%

Germans

65.8%

34.2%

Hungarians

67%

33%

Bosniaks

67.5%

32.5%

Romanians

67.8%

32.2%

Slovaks

72.1%

27.9%

Slovenians

74.8%

25.2%

Montenegrins

76.1%

23.9%

Macedonians

78.2%

21.8%

Russians

82.1%

17.9%

 

In most cases, they have nothing against having a person of different nationality or ethnic background as a neighbor, friend, colleague, school comrade. However, the majority expressed a slight disapproval of having such persons as teacher, professor or leading politician. The greatest disapproval occurs in regard to getting married to a person of different nationality. This is particularly pronounced with students who had higher scores on the scale of traditionalism: as opposed to the non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists, it is up to tenfold more often that they firmly oppose marital relationships with members of other ethnic groups. Intolerance is least pronounced when it comes to graduates in Vojvodina, whereas it is strongest in the regions of Belgrade, Southern and Eastern Serbia and Western Serbia and Šumаdija, respectively. Namely, 51% of graduates from Belgrade and Western Serbia and Šumаdija strictly oppose having any relations with Albanians, as opposed to the 38.5% in Vojvodina. A third of graduates from Belgrade strictly oppose any relation with the Roma and this attitude is shared by one in four graduates south of the Sаva and Danube and one in five graduates from Vojvodina. There is a similar situation when it comes to Croats. Almost a third of graduates from Belgrade oppose relations with Croats – this number is just half as much in Vojvodina. The traditionalists are mostly open towards Russians, Macedonians and Montenegrins. The results also show a firm connection between traditionalism and xenophobia. Accordingly, non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists display much more openness to relations with other peoples.

 

Would you be opposed to having  persons from these ethnic groups …

Live permanently in your country

Live in your neighborhood, city, street

In your class or as colleague at faculty

As your professors

As your friends

As a leading politician in the country

 

Become your family member through brother, sister, parents, child

 

Become your husband or wife

 

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Croats

63.9

18.6

65.1

18.6

68.7

17.8

57

22.9

67

19

30.4

39

55.3

26

48.1

29.1

Bosniaks

75.8

 

15.9

 

77.3

 

8.5

 

79.1

 

8.8

 

68.9

 

12.5

 

77.1

 

8.9

 

41.2

 

26.9

 

64

 

15.4

 

56

 

19.4

 

Montenegrins

83.2

 

4.5

84.7

 

4.7

 

85.8

 

4.9

 

76

 

9.2

 

85.7

 

4.8

46.8

 

23.6

 

76.5

 

9.7

 

69.6

 

11.9

 

Slovenians

83.5

 

5.3

 

85.5

 

4.7

85.9

 

5.2

 

74.9

 

9.4

 

84.3

 

5.1

45.5

 

23.7

 

73.3

 

9.8

 

65.3

 

13.9

 

Macedonians

86.5

 

3.7

 

87.4

 

3.8

 

88.4

 

4.1

 

78.5

 

7.9

 

86.9

 

4.4

 

49.4

 

21.5

 

77.6

 

8.6

 

70.3

 

12.1

 

Roma

65

 

 

18.3

59.1

 

22.2

67.4

 

18.5

 

56

 

24.5

 

61.5

 

19.6

 

33.7

 

36.3

 

39.3

 

33.2

 

27.9

 

42.7

 

Albanians

38.9

 

44.8

 

40.3

 

43.1

 

46.4

 

39.5

 

38.1

 

45.2

 

41.3

 

41.5

 

21.5

 

56.5

 

29.6

 

50.7

 

22.1

 

57.2

 

Jews

71

 

13.6

 

70.9

 

13.6

 

73.9

 

12.5

 

63.2

 

17.7

 

70.4

 

14.1

 

38.6

 

29.5

 

55.2

 

22.7

 

44.9

 

27.9

 

Hungarians

75.3

 

8.8

 

76.9

 

9.4

 

79.1

 

8.6

 

68.6

 

 

13.7

 

78

 

9.2

 

39.9

 

27.5

 

63.4

 

16.1

 

54.3

 

20.6

Slovaks

81.5

 

5.6

 

82.3

 

6.3

 

83.2

 

6.5

 

72.8

 

10.3

 

82.3

 

6.3

 

43.6

 

24

 

69.2

 

12.4

 

61.4

 

16.4

 

Romanians

77.8

 

7.3

 

77.7

 

8.2

 

80.6

 

7.8

69.5

12.3

78.7

 

8.1

 

40.9

 

26.5

 

63.5

 

15

 

53.6

 

20.1

 

Germans

71.2

 

14

 

73.4

 

13.2

 

76.2

 

12.6

 

66.6

 

16.8

 

76.1

 

12.1

 

38.8

 

30.6

 

64.4

 

18.1

 

59.1

 

20.3

 

Americans

66.8

 

19.9

 

70.4

 

17.9

 

73

 

17

 

64.6

 

21.1

 

72.4

 

16.7

 

35.7

 

38

 

62.8

 

20.7

 

59.3

 

23

 

Russians

89.

2

 

3.7

 

90.2

 

3.5

 

91

 

3.8

82.8

 

6.8

 

89.7

 

 

3.8

55.6

 

18.5

 

81.9

 

8

 

76.1

 

9.8

 

 

Sense of identification

Serbia’s high school graduates are social types who, their value orientation notwithstanding, first and foremost single out their own gender and family affiliation. Students with deeper traditionalist orientation emphasize their religion and nation not as exclusive but “romantic“ attitudes, as they consider themselves, first and foremost, patriots. Non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists view, besides Serbia, Europe and the world as “their home”.

 

   Sense of identification

Traditionalists

Non-traditionalists

Human being

0%

1%

Citizen  of the world

6.5%

25%

European

4.9%

11.8%

Balkanian

5.9%

3.3%

Citizen of Serbia

16.8%

14.3%

Member of their race

6.5%

3%

Member of their religion

31.4%

24.3%

Member of their people

32.4%

24.3%

Member of another people

5.9%

3.7%

Citizen of a town

21.1%

17.7%

Member of a political party

16.8%

8.9%

Family status

68.1%

79.3%

Sex

54.6%

57.2%

 

Who are their idols?

The majority have no idols but they admire certain personalities. They increasingly view family members and friends as role models. Therefore, we can conclude that “being popular and powerful” is no longer the most appreciated feature. Besides persons from the private sphere, graduates mostly appreciate pop singers, as well as singers of folk music that is very much associated with kitsch. Traditionalists idolize local singers and actors who often pander to a primitive taste, whereas the non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists also have respect for certain foreign pop-rock stars (Bob Marley, Lady Gaga, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain). All show business personalities stated as role models by graduates have no power – they are simply popular which is ascribed to the great influence of the mass-media.

Local and foreign athletes are singled out as role models by 27.2% of traditionalists who have idols (or 11% of the total of traditionalists) and 14.5% of non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists (i.e. 3.5% of the total number of non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists). Their idols are primarily foreign and, to a lesser extent, domestic football and basketball players (who play for foreign teams), while traditionalist students also stated ultimate fighter Fedor Emeliаnenko as their idol. On the other hand, tennis player Novаk Đoković is an idol only to non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists, 3% of them idolizing this athlete.

Traditionalists state politicians, historical figures and military leaders, i.e. “warriors” more frequently as their idols: Prime Minister Dаčić, Milorаd Ulemek-Legija, organizer of the assassination of Prime Minister Đinđić, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Vladimir Putin, Tito and World War II chetnik leader Drаgoljub-Drаža Mihаjlović, as well as Nikola Tesla. When it comes to artists, they did not single out a person they appreciate. Graduates with non-traditional and mild traditional attitudes did show an appreciation for artists (Ernest Hemingway, Frida Kahlo, Serbian writer Milorаd Pаvić, Paul Gauguin, Agatha Christie, Mikhail Lermontov). When it comes to politicians and historical figures, they appreciate Tito, Napoleon, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Mahatma Gandhi and Zorаn Đinđić. Professors are the favorite persons for 2.6% traditionalists who have idols and 5.5% of non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists. Over 2% of traditionalists who have idols and the same percent of non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists named themselves as their idols.

 

Are they familiar with democratic values?

Less than a fourth of traditionalists and only one in two non-traditionalists and mild traditionalists can state at least one democratic value. They mostly single out freedom and human rights, followed by equality and tolerance. Graduates more liberally inclined have greater knowledge about democracy and democratic values. It is important to note that a small number of graduates – who are the youngest voters – thought of independence and individualism. This data indicates that education institutions and the media should keep working on developing the youth’s democratic awareness.

 

   Value

Traditionalists

Non-traditionalists

Tolerance

13.3%

21.6%

Independence

2.2%

4.5%

Equality

26.7%

42.3%

Freedoms and rights

88.9%

79.7%

Individualism/initiative

4.4%

4.5%

 

The profiles of a traditionalists and non-traditionalists

A traditionalist is more frequently a male with pronounced intolerance towards other ethnic communities, a person who attends vocational high school, follows sporting events, goes to betting houses, likes to go to parties and listens to popular music, reads little and very rarely visits cultural institutions. On the other hand, a person with non-traditionalist and mild traditionalist attitudes is more frequently a female, open to getting to know and connecting with other communities, a person who attends gymnasium, spends most of her free time with friends, but likes to read and, even though it happens on rare occasions, visits cultural institutions – mostly libraries and theaters, and spends the least of her time visiting sporting events and betting houses.

When comparing the results of this survey with previous years’ surveys on the youth value orientation, one can conclude that the graduates in Serbia are expressing more liberal standpoints, that they are gradually accepting “new” values, contemporary tendencies and cultural patterns. What may cause for concern is the remaining intolerance towards other ethnic groups, which particularly occurs in cases of persons with traditionalist standpoints.

 

Outlook:

The results of this very important survey show that the competent authorities, institutions and organizations are facing a comprehensive and responsible task, one truly significant for the future of the entire society: to create a concept – with better organization, more responsibility and commitment – and consistently implement measures which will influence the youth so as to accept values, standards, norms and behavior models which characterize members of an open and democratic society. This particularly pertains to the competent state organs, education institutions and the media, but also political parties and civic society organizations.

 



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