11.11.2021

Publikation: Maturing prematurely: A pandemic year in the life of young people in Eastern Central Europe

The coronavirus pandemic has been a great shock to societies in Central Europe. The restrictions it has brought about are extensive, and must have been particularly new for the young generation that cannot remember the eras before the emocratic regimes were established in this region. In this report youths’ experiences of the first year of the pandemic were studied in four countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. Ten in-depth interviews were conducted in each country, in which young people talked about a variety of topics and issues that had impacted their lives. In the study, it is argued that in areas like healthcare, inter-generational relationships, and education young people were pushed into becoming like adults, that is, into maturing prematurely.

Young people are an important part of society. One day the young generation will define our world. The experiences, knowledge, skills, and values they acquire during their formative years play an important role in their personality formation and priority settings. Therefore it is important to study how youths are affected by historic events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This study focuses on young people and their perceptions of the Corona era in the Visegrad region (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia). It offers insights into various domains of young people’s lives – education, employment, political and value orientations, interpersonal relations, daily life experiences.

When the first COVID-19 cases were reported at the end of 2019 in Asia, few people anticipated the virus spreading to Central Europe. However, the situation changed dramatically after the sudden COVID-19 outbreak in Europe in early spring 2020. Already in March 2020, the Visegrad countries’ governments rapidly adopted strict regulations to slow the spread of the pandemic.

Social distancing, including limits on the number of people who could meet in both public and private, was introduced in each V4 country. Curfews were introduced, including bans limiting movement to various degrees, the schools were closed and education was carried out remotely and most employees worked from home.

The study focus on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic on young people’s lives in four areas: family life and relationships with the older generation(s), value changes, education and employment, and trust in media and government. The study argues that there is an underlying process occurring in all these areas of some young people’s lives – the onset of premature maturity. The pandemic and governments’ responses have contributed significantly to a change in their thinking and partly a change in their values.

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
Vertretung in der Slowakischen Republik 

Maróthyho 6
81106 Bratislava

+421 2 54 41 12 09
+421 2 54 41 18 80

fes(at)fes.sk

 

 

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