The youth of Russia and Serbia: Social trust and key generational problems

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Abstract


The Sociological Laboratory of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia has conducted a number of comparative studies using the method of mass surveys on the representative samples of student youth in different countries and different regions within them. The results of these surveys were presented in the articles in both Russian and foreign scientific journals, and we hope to establish a kind of tradition to publish two types of articles based on the comparative research data: in 2015 we focused mainly on methodological and technical issues to identify key problems of the comparative analysis in cross-cultural studies that become evident only if you conduct an empirical research yourself - from the first step of setting the problem and approving it by all the sides involved to the last step of interpreting and comparing the data obtained. From 2016 to the end of the Russian Foundation for Humanities’ support in 2017 we will focus on the results of our comparative studies together with our colleagues that participate in the project and conduct surveys on the student samples in their countries using the same questionnaire (with the inevitable and predictable changes) as we do. The authors present only a small part of the empirical data revealing the perception of the Serbian and Russian student youth of their own situation through the identification of the key problems of the younger generations and the trust to the basic social institutions. This is a deliberate decision of the authors - to leave other topics (and corresponding questions) out in order to address them more thoroughly later in the further analysis and publications. The article considers the results of the empirical studies conducted on the representative samples of students of two Serbian universities - University of Belgrade and University of Pristina with the head-office in Kosovska Mitrovica, and on the representative sample of Moscow students (a part of the sample was recruited in the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia).


“It is important to influence hearts and consciousness of youth in order to transform society”. Barlow and Robertson (2003) Sociological studies of the youth worldview are of a key importance for both scientific and practical aims for the data of such research allow to identify not only the “rebelliousness” of the youth, but also their fears and aspirations, intentions and hopes to change the existing social order, the values and priorities of the youth in different spheres of life, the problems the younger generations claim to face (and the major among them can turn into reasons and driving forces for rebellious forms of behavior and corresponding views and attitudes), etc. To consider the issues mentioned it is necessary first to clarify the very idea and concept of the “youth”: rather than a biological-psychological term that refers to a certain age and its features the younger people represent a collective social actor given that the society recognizes and accepts them as a specific social-demographic group focusing on the socialization and for that reason tends to positively discriminate them. “The phenomenon of the youth is therefore connected with modern societies that separate children and young people from the rest of the society by general and mass educational system” [27. S. 378]. In other words, it is crucial for every sociological research of the youth “to concretize the very idea of the ‘youth’, to define special groups of the youth (urban, rural, proletarian, school, student, etc.)” [25. S. 393]. In the article we do that by emphasizing the most important generational problems identified by the students and at the same time considering their perception of the key social institutions in the terms of trust. Sociological study of the student youth worldview through these two empirical indicators is of special importance for this part of the youth in the future will become the most educated part of society and consequently would claim the leadership in all social spheres. On the other hand, considering the methodological aspect of the sociological research, the students’ age is supposed to be old enough to have relatively broad outlook and be competent enough to answer the questionnaire seriously and responsibly. Another important clarification we are to make is that we conduct a comparative research and are primarily interested in identifying differences between students’ samples both within and between the countries. Certainly, regional comparisons within the country are more easy to make for our Serbian colleagues due to the objective factors such as the size of the population and of the territory of the country, than for the Russian scientists dealing with a very difficult object even within the capital of the country and compelled to reject the within-country comparative perspective due to financial and administrative problems. However, regardless the comparative dimension - regional or international - the importance, utility and problems of the comparative research are as old as the sociological discipline itself, and already E. Durkheim insisted that “comparative sociology is not a particular branch of sociology; it is sociology itself, in so far as it ceases to be purely descriptive and aspires to account for facts… Although comparative research flourishes within this discipline, persistent methodological problems remain” [28. P. 619]. First, it is the ‘status’ of comparative orientation which is ambiguous: on the one hand, the term ‘comparative’ is not among the clearly defined in the sociological discourse (for instance, there is no way to draw a demarcation line between ‘comparative’ and ‘cross-cultural’); and the most famous comparative studies - World Values Survey [16] and European Social Survey [7] - are both criticized for not always equivalent samples and not valid cross-national comparisons despite endless attempts to eliminate their methodological, technical and interpretational errors and biases. Second, there is an obvious quantitative preference in the tradition of cross-cultural studies though they started as qualitative: “most scholars understand cross-cultural comparison as the comparison of a social phenomenon in different societies, and perhaps at different historical times, with the aim of establishing the common ‘causal’ basis of shared features..., or the unique features of a particular culture or society, ...which does not imply that cross-cultural research should be quantitative” [19. P. 6]. Moreover, “quantitative worldwide cross-cultural research… represents only one type of cross-cultural research... and many qualitative findings have led to the formulation and testing of new hypotheses through quantitative methods. In other words, qualitative cross-cultural research has long constituted a basis for the development of quantitative research” [19. P. 7], and ignorance of the qualitative tradition cannot be justified. Nevertheless, it is indisputable that the comparative orientation in sociology as a discipline that relies basically on the quantitative data obtained in different settings (represented by nation-states as a rule) offers great possibilities. Third, the sociological discourse in the last few decades has been concerned rather with research administration and technology than with methodological issues such as parameters available for quantitative measurement. Let us briefly describe the comparative orientation’s difficulties and challenges relying on the long-term experience of the Sociological Laboratory of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia in cooperation with China Youth and Children Research Centre (Beijing), Belgrade University and University of Priština in Kosovska Mitrovica (Serbia) and Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic): (1) Under the cross-cultural work one always experiences difficulties in applying research techniques to another ‘milieu’ - both in translating and adapting them to different social realities and worldview. Unfortunately, even the most standardized tools (structured interviews or tests) do not guarantee an easy and correct export of the research technology for the identical stimuli (questions) are not necessarily functionally equivalent in different countries or cultures (even allegedly identical and absolutely neutral characteristics such as age, sex, education or occupation). There are no proofs that the standardization of the research tool does provide comparable data and help to overcome language barriers in the translation: “A translating team which is bilingual but not bicultural cannot completely understand cultural differences. In such a case, functional equivalence is difficult to achieve. Ideally, therefore, all roles in the translation team should be filled by persons with a bicultural background so that they can competently discuss the correct wording of a question” [15. P. 6, 7] - a condition which is hard if not impossible to fulfill in most sociological projects. (2) Under the comparative research one faces the challenge of choosing ‘right’ respondents to question: the best strategy seems to be a reduction of within-group variability of the groups compared; however, our research experience proves that the ‘artifacts’ of formal organization that negatively affect the results of survey are easy to overcome if heterogeneous groups are studied. (3) Researchers often miss or deliberately ignore the challenge of choosing the cases - cultures/counties/societies, which usually depends on the research aims and design but tends to be resolved within one of two widespread strategies: (a) to select cases in a way that they differ in several factors, especially in the one that interests researchers the most, which guarantees the minimum internal variability; (b) to select cases as similar as possible in several respects except for the one to be studied. Unlike anthropologists, who deny the right to compare traditional non-industrialized communities and industrialized nation-states, question the right to treat a modern nation-state as a unit of observation and analysis, doubt the very interpretation of the nation-state as an integration of sub-institutional behavior forms, and consider comparative analysis impossible in general due to the problem of defining cultures as wholes and constructing cultural units for comparison, sociologists simply focus on methods of obtaining comparable data, take the internal heterogeneity of complex societies under cross-cultural consideration for granted and believe that individual features are inevitable mediated in different ways by the network of social structures and institutions. Our “choice lies between a small and a relatively large N (sample size), which each poses specific problems. In the case when the researcher chooses to include a large number of units (countries) with only scant, more general comparative variables he runs the risk of producing superficial though potentially statistically sound results. On the other hand, if the researcher chooses to include only a few units of analysis with numerous variables he takes the risk of having too many variables and too few cases to effectively test causal models” [28. P. 621; see also: 5]. Nevertheless, despite these challenges, there are still few sociological works on methodological rather than technical aspects of comparative analysis: most writings refer to the technology of research (difficulties of developing and enforcing comparable data collection routines), or to administering cross-cultural work. The best (most correct) strategy to conduct a comparative study is to begin with methodology, and then to go further to particular techniques as determined and justified by the chosen methodological framework. If such an approach is hard or impossible to implement another option is to choose a few key research questions and to consider them in the wider conceptual context emphasizing both comparative challenges and measurement difficulties. We will show the potential of such an approach on the example of a comparative Russian-Serbian project. The research in Serbia was conducted on the sample of students of the largest Serbian University in Belgrade and in the university that exists in the most difficult conditions - University in Pristina with the contemporary head-office in Kosovska Mitrovica (the survey was conducted at the end of 2014). In Kosovska Mitrovica 345 students from all ten faculties were questioned (50% of them were males); in the University of Belgrade 31 faculties were grouped into four educational profiles - humanities and social sciences, mathematics, technologies and technical sciences and medical sciences. The two-stage quota sample was chosen: first, we calculated the distribution of students among the faculties; then the faculties were chosen randomly for four suggested educational profiles, so that 391 students were questioned - 29% represented technical sciences (Technological-Metallurgical Faculty and Faculty of Mechanical Engineering), 49% - humanities and social sciences (Faculty of Law and Faculty of Political Sciences), 12% - medical sciences (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine), and 8% - Faculty of Mathematics (61% of the sample were females). In Moscow, due to the much larger size of the city and the student population the sample was designed to represent three educational profiles according to the distribution of different specialties on the website of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science - humanities and social sciences, technologies and technical sciences and natural (including medical) sciences. 1000 students were questioned in different Moscow universities through both formal arrangements and ‘snowball’ recruiting by the interviewers of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia through social networks’ links and personal connections: 25% represented technical sciences, 53% - humanities and social sciences, 22% - medical sciences (60% of the sample were females). As stated above, we will focus on two questions of the survey to identify (a) the most evident differences of the youth worldview in two countries, and (b) the unavoidable difficulties the researchers face while conducting a comparative study, especially in so differing countries as Russia and Serbia. Both questionnaires - Russian and Serbian - included a question about the most acute problems the youth faces today, however in the Serbian survey the question was slightly modified to sound more generalized: the Russian sample was asked “In your opinion, what are the most acute problems the youth faces today?”, while for the Serbian sample it was modified into “In your opinion, what are the most important problems of the society you live in?”. In Moscow respondents had to choose the most relevant answers from the list of 16 options (smoking is not considered a serious problem in the Serbian society, so it was left out in the Serbian version of the questionnaire) or write their own answer. In Moscow respondents had to choose up to five answers from the list, while Serbian students were supposed to rank the first three most widespread problems (Table 1). Besides, in Russia we did not have administrative and other resources to conduct a cross-regional comparison within the country, while Serbian colleagues obtained the data for this comparison as well (Table 2). Table 1 The most acute problems of the youth in the opinion of Moscow students (%, 2015) Problems Total Male Female Humanities and social sciences Technical sciences Natural sciences Drug addiction 55,8 59,3 53,7 49,6 58,3 68,3 Alcoholism 54,6 56,6 53,5 47,8 56,9 68,8 Moral degradation of society 45,4 40,7 48,1 42,6 51,5 45,2 Smoking 44,1 45,8 43,1 41,1 43,1 52,7 Health problems 29,8 25,7 32,7 29,9 27,5 31,7 Unemployment 27,8 26,3 28,5 27,7 26,5 29 Lack of money 21,2 19,5 22,2 19,6 24,5 21 Boring life 20,7 20,4 21 18,5 24 22,6 Lack of mutual understanding with parents 18,2 15 20,6 19 19,1 15,6 Crime rate 17,5 18,3 17,2 18,1 18,1 15,6 Lack of support from the state 17,3 17,1 17 17,2 17,2 17,2 Unavailability of education 17,2 12,3 20,4 17,9 16,7 16,1 Corruption of authorities 16,7 15,3 17,4 16,3 16,2 18,3 Economic situation in the country 14,5 16,2 13,2 14,3 18,6 10,8 Violation of civil rights and freedoms 10,8 12,9 9,6 13,4 10,3 5,4 Political situation in the country and the world 9,8 8,4 10,8 8,9 11,3 10,2 Table 2 The most important problems of the society in the opinion of students of University of Belgrade and University of Pristina (three first ranks, %, 2014) Problems University of Belgrade University in Kosovska Mitrovica Rank 1 Rank 2 Rank 3 Rank 1 Rank 2 Rank 3 Drug addiction 9,8 4,9 7,2 23,1 14,1 16,2 Alcoholism 3,4 4,3 6,9 6,9 17,5 7,4 Health problems 5,2 4 4,6 4 5,4 6,7 Unemployment 27 19 13,2 37,6 18,9 11,4 Economic situation in the country 19,5 15,8 8,6 6,6 11,8 6,4 Moral degradation of society 11,2 11,5 8,3 6,6 2,7 5,7 Unavailability of education 0,9 0,6 4,6 0,7 2,4 Crime rate 2,9 8,9 4,6 2,6 12,5 20,9 Corruption of authorities 11,5 14,1 14,9 5,6 7,1 12,8 Boring life 0,6 0,6 1,4 0,3 0,7 Lack of mutual understanding with parents 2,3 0,3 1,1 0,7 Lack of money 1,7 5,7 5,2 1,7 1,7 4 Political situation in the country and the world 0,6 3,4 6 1,7 2,7 3,4 Lack of support from the state 0,9 2,3 3,2 2,3 0 2,7 Violation of civil rights and freedoms 0,3 2 2,9 2,4 1,3 Such strong methodological differences do not allow us to compare data in the cross-national perspective. However, we can identify key problems of the youth in both countries without making too broad generalizations or focusing on specific parameters; also we can focus on the regional differences within the Serbian society, which is quite important for we have already conducted a comparative study of the student youth values in the Russian regional context (Moscow and Maikop) that did not reveal significant differences except for a few slight variations quite predictable for a more traditional region (Adygeya) as compared to the capital of the country (Moscow) [31]. The most acute problems of the Russian youth form five groups according to the shares of the sample that chose them from the list of answers: (1) the leaders are drug addictions and alcoholism (mentioned by every second respondent); (2) moral degradation of society and smoking were mentioned by about 45% (quite a strange combination of problems, perhaps, considered equally socially negative); (3) about 30% of respondents mentioned both unemployment and health problems; (4) this group is the largest in number of problems for about every fifth mentioned some ‘lack’ - of mutual understanding with parents, of money, of support from the state, of security (from crime in general and authorities’ corruption in particular) or of educational opportunities; (5) only about every tenth mentioned political and economic situation together with the violation of civil rights and freedoms, i.e. students tend to see the key sources of their generation problems rather in its own behavioral patterns than in the objective social circumstances. And such a perception of the generational challenges does not have gender or educational ‘measurements’: we see the same ‘typological syndromes’ in the corresponding subsamples in Table 1 except for a few insignificant differences - for instance, female students seem to be more socially concerned for they more often mention moral degradation of the society and unavailability of education as key problems of the youth (48% vs. 41% in the first case and 20% vs. 12% in the second). There are no significant educational differences though students of the humanities and social sciences departments seem to be a bit less concerned about all the problems listed, while students of the natural sciences departments are much more concerned about two leading problems - drug addiction and alcoholism (about 68%) - than students of the technical sciences departments, who in their turn are more concerned about these two (about 58%) than students of humanities and social sciences departments (about 48%). Serbian students consider unemployment the most acute social problem - both in Belgrade and Kosovska Mitrovica they mention unemployment either in the first or the second rank. However, the share of students that rank this problem as the main one is by 10% larger in Kosovska Mitrovica than in Belgrade; on the other hand, as the third-ranked social problem unemployment is in the second place for the students of Belgrade and in the fourth for the students in Kosovska Mitrovica. Such a distribution of answers can be explained by the difficult political and social-economic situation in Kosovo and Metohija that determines the acuteness of unemployment for this region. The economic situation in the country, corruption of authorities and moral degradation of the society are also among the first-ranked problems for the students of Belgrade who almost just as frequently mark it as the second-ranked. This can be explained by the fact that unemployment as a social problem is a result of the poor economic situation in the country, so students could have named any of these two as the first-ranked, but they did it with the problem they are concerned about the most. The students in the north of Kosovo and Metohija mentioned drug addiction (almost every fourth respondent) as the second key problem of the society just after unemployment, then goes alcoholism but with a considerably lower share of choices. Among the second-ranked problems we see alcoholism (chosen by every fifth student), then crime rate and economic situation in the country. Within the third-ranked problems crime rate was named by every fifth student, then goes drug addiction, corruption of authorities and again unemployment. There are some significant differences between students in Belgrade and Kosovska Mitrovica: while the problems like drug addiction, alcoholism and crime rate are not the leaders of the Belgrade students’ list, they take the highest positions in Kosovska Mitrovica which can be explained by the specific social and political environment of Kosovo and Metohija. Thus, there is huge drug market controlled by the Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija to the south of the river Ibar, from which a significant part of the European drug market is supplied through the so-called Balkans Route [3] and which contributes to the relatively easy supply of drugs to the north of Kosovo and Metohija and their distribution at relatively low prices. “The OCGs (organizes crime groups) from the Western Balkans are important partners of the Turkish OCGs in the heroin trade. Albanian-speaking OCGs based in Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Kosovo area use the region for storage and repackaging of heroin shipments. These groups seem to control a significant part of the heroin trade in many European countries, with criminal activities identified in almost all EU Member States” [6. P. 33]. Therefore, the European Union aims to “mitigate the role of the Western Balkans as a key transit and storage zone for illicit commodities destined for the EU and logistical centre for OCGs, including Albanian-speaking OCGs” [6. P. 18]. Regarding the crime in general, it is enough to look through the report to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [26] or the publications with the results of sociological studies [see, e.g.: 32] to find out the causes of anxiety of students about the crime rate. The crime in Kosovo and Metohija to the south of the river Ibar primarily consists of terror acts or threats, while in the north of this Serbian province there is an evident state of ‘anomie’ for the regulations of the self-proclaimed “independent Kosovo”, norms brought to the region by international community, etc. cannot be implemented efficiently due to absence of competent state authorities that would apply punitive sanctions to those who fail to fulfill social requirements and rules. Alcoholism is an important social problem not only for students in Kosovska Mitrovica: according to the numerous studies in Serbia in the last decade, excessive alcohol consumption is a widespread behavioral pattern and, thus, mentioned as such by representatives of different ages, however, it is more typical for men than for women [20; 29]. The studies conducted in the north of Kosovo and Metohija show a high share of students excessively drinking alcohol beverages, and the first alcohol drink is usually consumed in the family, which is a result of specific festal traditions of the region and of the ineffective and insufficient stigmatization of alcohol consumption as a measure to reduce alcohol addiction. Finally, there is a problem of corruption of authorities: Belgrade students put it the third place among the first-ranked social problems, in the second place among the second-ranked problems and in the first place among the third-ranked, while the students in Kosovska Mitrovica put it only in the third place among the third-ranked social problems. Undoubtedly, such data should not lead to the conclusion that there is no corruption in the north of Kosovo and Metohija unlike Belgrade for the case is not an absence/presence of corruption, but the perception of it. In Kosovo and Metohija corruption of all types is considered traditional and inevitable informal technique to achieve one’s goals, that is why, for instance, a “gratitude in the envelope” to a doctor or a municipal clerk is considered a social norm, while only the large-scale forms of corruptive actions are defined as ‘corruption’. Another important thematic line of the comparative studies of the youth value priorities is the level of social trust that largely predetermines the perception of the current social realities and identification of its key problems. Undoubtedly, trust is a very complex phenomenon that is difficult to define and measure empirically; moreover, under the comparison we are to choose its theoretical definition (at least to make an attempt to reach consensus here) and only then proceed to empirical indicators. However, in some cases this rule does not work, especially if we want to identify a lot of different features of the youth worldview to reconstruct it, that is why we sometimes (as in our project) prefer to omit such interpretational efforts and ignore the fact that cross-cultural comparisons logically are no more than observations under differing conditions in which even the same questions can be understood differently depending on the temporal or cultural context. In the last decades trust has become the focus of numerous empirical studies aiming to identify the causes and effects of social trust and to describe determinants and practical implications of different ‘types’ and ‘levels’ of trust regardless the lack of a widely agreed definition or commonly shared understanding of the concept [21] through some theoretical conceptualizations [18] in terms of its social functions or agency rendering [11; 23]. However, there is a kind of consensus among representatives of the contemporary sociology of trust [see, e.g.: 10; 13; 37] that trust is primarily connected with risks and uncertainty: “Trusting becomes the crucial strategy for dealing with an uncertain and uncontrollable future… that has generally beneficial consequences for the partners in social relationships, and the groups to which they belong, as well as for the peaceful, harmonious, and cohesive quality of wider social life” (it becomes unproblematic) [37. P. 25, 115]. In our comparative study we define social trust as a kind of ‘remedy’ from uncertain future, “a simplifying strategy that enables individuals to adapt to complex social environment, and thereby benefit from increased opportunities” [4. P. 38], i.e. we can use measurements of social trust as an explanation of the estimates of the social reality through its key problems. Quantitative trust studies in the form of national surveys aim to provide estimates of the level of social trust in the comparative temporal perspective which faces the same methodological challenges as the comparative spatial perspective [see, e.g.: 30; 38] (such as that there are no guarantees that we do measure real changes in trust). However, there are many interesting observations on variations in trust within and across populations and countries based on survey evidence [see, e.g.: 35; 39; 40]. Sociological surveys of the last decade indicate that in the Russian society there is a high level of everyday practical distrust expressed towards others together with the high declarative trust to three significant institutions - the head of the state (the president), the church, and the army [14]. The situation in Russia is very specific in the sense that trust is very differentiated: on the one hand, the level of society’s trust to the president is consistently high; on the other hand, the trust to almost all social institutions has declined, especially to the government (45% in 2015 vs. 26% in 2016), the State Duma (40% vs. 22%) and regional authorities (38% vs. 23%) [17]. But within different social-demographical groups these number can be quite different as the Picture 1 shows. It presents survey data for careful (!) comparative evaluation of the social trust of the younger generations to the key social institutions of their countries regardless obvious differences in the interpretations and even perception of such (there is no other way to work within the quantitative approach). Picture 1. Distribution of answers to the question “To what extent do you trust in…” (‘completely trust’ and ‘rather trust’ options combined, other options left out, not all objects of evaluation presented: for the Russian sample the State Duma - 46,3%, Federation Council - 50,4%, Public Chamber - 44,9%; the objects left out for the Serbian sample are presented in the Table below) As we can see in Picture 1, the general level of social trust among the Russian youth is much higher than in Serbia, especially to the president (63% vs. 9-13%), government (57% vs. 13%), courts (51% vs. 25%), local non-government organizations (42% vs. 12%), large business (40% vs. 10-20%), international non-government organizations (37% vs. 12%), political parties (34% vs. 5%) and mass media (32% vs. 11-23%) (though most numbers in the Russian society are not high compared to the majority of Western countries), except for two social institutions - the church/religion and the army. The students of Moscow and Belgrade express comparable levels of trust to these two institutions while in Kosovska Mitrovica the level of trust is even higher, perhaps as to the only institutions guaranteeing some social security (the army) and emotional solace (the church). The regional within-country differences of the level of social trust in Serbia are presented in Table 3. Table 3 The trust of students of the University of Belgrade and University of Kosovska Mitrovica to the key social institutions (%) Objects of trust University of Belgrade University of Kosovska Mitrovica Completely trust Rather trust Neither trust nor distrust Rather distrust Completely distrust Hard to say Completely trust Rather trust Neither trust nor distrust Rather distrust Completely distrust Hard to say Serbian Government 1,8 10,6 27,8 21,6 31,9 4,2 4,9 8,6 24,5 23,9 29,4 8,9 Serbian Parliament 0,5 9,6 25,6 25,3 30,4 5,4 2,7 12,1 24,2 21,5 30,8 8,8 President of the Republic of Serbia 1 8 21,5 19,9 40,2 7,3 3,3 9,7 18,2 18,2 40,6 10 Political parties 0,5 3,6 17,9 25,4 45,3 5,2 1,5 3,9 16,6 20,8 43,8 13,3 Local NGOs 0,5 12,7 28,4 22,7 26,6 7 1,5 9,6 23,8 20,5 33,1 11,4 International NGOs 0,8 12,7 32,6 21,2 24,8 5,9 1,5 10,5 20,8 20,2 35,2 11,7 Serbian Police 4,4 21,4 28,4 19,6 20,2 3,9 8 28,6 20,6 12 23,1 7,7 Independent bodies to protect the rights (ombudsmen) 5,2 24,4 31,9 15 14,8 6,7 4,5 21,5 26,6 17,5 19,3 10,6 Courts 3,6 20,3 32,3 17,7 17,7 6,3 5,5 20,7 27,7 12,5 24,7 8,8 Banks 2,6 17,6 26,9 16,6 27,7 6,5 5,8 24,3 24,9 12 21,2 11,7 Large business 1 8,5 32,6 19,4 28,8 7,5 8 12,3 28,6 13,5 24,3 13,2 Mass media 2,1 9,1 32,2 20,8 28,6 5,2 5,9 16,7 31,6 13,9 21,7 10,2 Church 17,8 30,5 21,4 7,8 15,8 4,7 50,8 24,1 7,4 5,3 6,8 5,6 Serbian army 23,8 33,2 19,2 6,5 9,6 5,7 37,7 26,8 13,7 4,4 11,8 5,6 So-called “institutions of Pristina” 1,8 1,3 21,5 12,6 40,1 20,7 3,4 5,2 13,5 12 46,5 19,4 Table 3 clearly indicates that the students of both Serbian universities do not trust the majority of social institutions except for the church and Serbian army. Almost every second Belgrade student trusts (more or less) the church as 75% of students in Kosovska Mitrovica: such a difference can be explained by the fundamental importance of the confessional identity in Kosovo and Metohija for the youth identification, especially due to the influence of the “Kosovo myth for establishing Serbian national identity; Orthodox faith and nationality are much deeper and firmer tied, and in that sense national and confessional identity combine into an indissoluble unity” [1. P. 60]. Besides, the share of religious believers among students of Kosovo and Metohija is above the average Serbian level, which is determined by “the general political situation in micro-region the respondents study and live in” [33]. In general the level of social trust is a bit higher among the students of Kosovska Mitrovica compared to the students of Belgrade, perhaps, due to the more traditional way of life and more patriarchal worldview. The only exception here are the so-called “institutions of Pristina” to which every second student in either University does not trust. In both cases about one fifth of the sample could not answer the question about the trust to these institutions: for the students of Belgrade it was predictable for they do not have a relevant life experience, while for the students of Kosovo and Metohija it is odd and should be taken as an indicator of a denial to reveal one’s attitude. Moreover, though the corresponding shares are low four times as much students trust the so-called “institutions from Pristina” in the north of Kosovo and Metohija than in Belgrade, which is a serious indicator demanding further careful consideration. For instance, such distribution of social trust in the region may be explained by the historically (since the XIXth century) sustainable process of the so-called “moral mimicry” among the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija under the Islamization aggravated by the current lack of peaceful and safe life conditions in the region due to the numerous ethnically motivated attacks of Albanians on Serbians since 1999 [36. P. 104-113]. Thus, the trust to social institutions should be interpreted as a factor of the generational identification of the key social problems: for instance, neither Serbian nor international institutions and especially “institutions of Pristina” are not trusted to solve the acute social problems of the region such as unemployment, economic decline, corruption, high crime rate, etc. Under such conditions, the general social distrust is a predictable reaction to these institutions’ inability to fulfill their mission and guarantee social, political and economic safety. That is why, especially in the comparative studies, trust has always been one of the most important categories to explain social order and interpret the relationship of the features of trust and institutional structures (economics, politics, etc.) regardless the general scientific claim that worldwide there is a growing public distrust in the official and professional institutions, in which we used to place our confidence before [34]. Though the decline in trust is partly illusory - trust is not necessarily at a lower level than previously, but rather takes different forms [see, e.g.: 11], an atmosphere of distrust develops ubiquitously, which is evidenced in such indicators as rising crime rates, weakening of the family institutional functions, distrust to police and state and municipal officials, etc. [see, e.g.: 8].

U V Šuvaković

University of Priština with the Temporary Head Office in Kosovska Mitrovica

Author for correspondence.
Email: uros-s@eunet.rs
Kosovska Mitrovica, Serbia

N P Narbut

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia

Email: narbut_np@rudn.university
Moscow, Russia

I V Trotsuk

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia

Email: trotsuk_iv@rudn.university
Moscow, Russia

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