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Focus on Youth (2002)

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Social Involvement

Despite their minimal interest in politics, many young people are involved in their community. They focus their activities on concrete, practical issues that afford them opportunities and benefit. The focus is on their own, youth-related interests and on meaningful recreational activities. Young people increasingly use the internet to attract attention to their causes and to organize themselves in networks.

Although adolescents are active in helping others or in protecting animals and the environment, they show far less interest in citizens’ initiatives, aid organizations such as Greenpeace or Amnesty International, political parties, and trade unions than in clubs, educational institutions, and self-organized groups. Many young people also get involved on an individual basis. Young women are generally more active when it comes to environmental and social issues; whereas young men tend to work more on behalf of improved coexistence, order, and security in their neighborhoods. Thirty-five percent of young people are socially active on a regular basis, 41 percent occasionally, and 24 percent are not socially active at all. Here, too, the higher the education level and social stratum, the more intensive the social engagement. “Alongside schools,” Hurrelmann states, “clubs, volunteer fire departments, and emergency services play an important role in integrating disadvantaged youths.”

Open to Europe and Globalization

European integration is a reality for young people today and is clearly seen as an opportunity. A relative majority of young people (47 percent) support the idea that the European Union should move toward becoming a unified state in the future. Their attitudes toward the Eastern expansion of the EU are similar. Moreover, in their opinion, Germany should accept its new international responsibilities.

They are also pragmatic and open when it comes to globalization. Opportunities and challenges are assessed realistically; difficulties are not swept under the carpet. When evaluating globalization, ideological positions are outmoded. Young people realize that globalization is also making life more interesting and diverse.

Source: “Aufstieg statt Ausstieg: Jugendliche gestalten ihre Zukunft pragmatisch und zielorientiert” [“Climbing the Ranks Instead of Dropping out: Young People are Pragmatic and Goal-Oriented in Shaping their Future”], 14th Shell Youth Study (August 2002);

Translation: Allison Brown

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