Conference "Youth in Latvia, Europe, Globe"
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International scientific conference «Youth in Latvia, Europe, Globe: Opportunities and Risks» took place on June 1–2, 2012 in the University of Latvia, and became a meeting point for youth researchers, youth policy makers and youth work organizers, providing multi-dimensional analysis of problems related to the lives of young people. The conference aimed to share the results offered by youth researchers with wider communities, to strengthen co-operation among researchers and policy makers both in Latvia and internationally.

The conference was the second youth research forum organized by the group of youth researchers at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia. The first event, called «IT Century: Youth and Social Change,» took place 10 years ago.

During the two days, researchers representing Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Canada, Netherland, Iceland, Poland, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Russia and Belarus delivered 63 presentations.


Abstracts and programme


Conference micro-site


The opening session of the conference offered four keynote speeches. Mr. Hans-Joachim Schild, the leader of the European Commission and European Council Youth partnership emphasized the need for long-term co-operation of youth researchers and policy makers, as youth policy should be based on research findings, while researchers should operate in close contact with both policy makers and youth workers. Mr. Schild introduced the European Knowledge Centre of Youth Policy system, and stressed the importance of PEYR network for elaboration and implementation of EU youth policies. One of the crucial tasks is to produce and disseminate knowledge among key actors in the field of youth.  Researchers take a very important role as they provide academic knowledge demanded by youth work practitioners, which altogether can be thought of as «golden triangle» of co-operation.

Helena Helve, professor at Tampere University, provided a perspective on the current opportunities for young people in education and the labour market, as well as on the related risks of social exclusion. Prof. Helve based her analysis on the data on youth employment in Europe during the recession; she also shared findings from a survey of youngsters in Finland that covered their values and views on the future. Based on post-materialism, values and identity theories, prof. Helve evaluated life strategies of young people in the circumstances of insecurity and economic crisis in Europe.

Sandra Sebre, professor at the University of Latvia, in her keynote speech analysed social, psychological and cultural aspects of youth resilience in the age of global Internet use. Prof. Sebre emphasized that risks and protective factors for young people nowadays become progressively complicated. The author provided analysis of correlation between Internet use, playing on-line games (esp. violent), and subjective evaluation of these activities by young people themselves. It was emphasised that several researches conducted in Latvia proved significant relation between problematic Internet use, obsession with violent games, and depression, anger, aggression, sexual interests and other problems among youngsters. Such tendencies are especially worrying among 17–19 years old pupils. The situation was found affected by inconsistent or too strict attitudes of parents. On contrary, supportive and emotionally positive support of the parents contributes to confidence and resilience in youth. The author stressed the importance of interplay of psychological and social factors for the development of self-confidence and resilience in youth.

Associated professor Inta Mieriņa in her speech offered an analysis on political alienation of young people in post-communist countries, based on the data from two waves of comparative survey «Government Role» (ISSP, 1996 and 2006), and an original cohort analysis methodology. The author argued that in all of the Eastern European countries, with the exception of Czech Republic, young generations lack political competence. Analysis revealed that generations born after 1960 exhibit low levels of political competence, which are comparable to those of generations born prior to 1940. Both generations are characterized by distrust to politicians. I. Mieriņa in her interpretations of these results stressed that the generations were born during the socialist regimes were in the process of political competence formation at the time of ground-breaking economic and social changes, and on the edge of collapse of systems. Another interpretation is based on the formation of so-called Generation X or Dot-net generation, which is similar to Western societies, and due to different reasons shows very low interest in politics.

The second part of the opening session was devoted to the analysis of health risks and risks of addictions. Dr. Valeria Siciliano introduced the audience to an innovative methodology elaborated by Italian researchers in order to assess differences in alcohol consumption among young people in different countries. It was argued that along with traditional approach that is based on the analysis of frequency of alcohol consumption they proposed various indicator variables derived by factor analysis. The resulting findings suggest there are five main alcohol consumption models among young people in Europe.

Jón Sigfússon (Reykjavik University) shared Iceland’s experience in research of addictions among youth and the success story of this country in research-based prevention policy implementation during last decade. Mr. Sigfússon stressed the importance of rapid channelling of the research results to various target groups. Thus, research should be able to solve multi-faceted problem: on one hand, researchers need to comply with scientific work requirements, including international publications, which usually spreads over long periods of time; on the other hand, policy makers and practitioners need to be provided with the findings as soon as possible, and in easily applicable form. In his presentation, Mr. Sigfússon illustrated the possible middle way between the two dimensions.

The second day of the conference started with a master class led by prof. Olga Tereschenko, during which all interested learned about the life event history analysis approach in longitudinal youth studies. It was followed by four keynotes. The first presenter, Māra Sīmane, gave an overview of the National development plan progress and pointed out the need to break the vicious circle of inability by facilitating self-esteem and initiative in young people.

Assoc. prof. Anda Rožukalne shared her findings from the analysis of young media users, their media use patterns, and the possible resulting changes in the media system and content. The research revealed that the patterns of media use among young people are similar, and there is no significant correlation with such factors as place of residence, educational institution and income level. However, age is the factor that shows strong link to the media use patterns. What makes young people’s media use patterns different is intensive use of the Internet, including social networks, and not the media content. The emphasis in such media use tends to be on entertainment as the determining function and the determining function.

Dr. soc. Ritma Rungule presented her analysis of youth transition to adulthood in different historical periods. Her paper was based on the comparison of two generations: 1960–70s and the millennium. The unique analysis was derived from a classic work of Latvian sociologist Tālivaldis Vilciņš, in which he analysed professional choices of young people in 1960s, and complemented with the data collected in 2011. Dr. Rungule emphasized that in the modern society the tendencies of individualisation become stronger, including the transition from education to work.

Dr. soc. Ilze Koroļeva presented her work on the satisfaction with life as a component of subjective well being of young people in their transition to adulthood. Her detailed analysis was based on the longitudinal methodology, which is unique in the practice of sociological research in Latvia. The analysis revealed that the level of satisfaction with life in young people, as well as changes of it, depends more heavily on the individual characteristics of a person, rather on the available resources and objective circumstances. The satisfaction with life was found to be the most strongly related to such variables as: family (formation of one’s own family, cohabitation), children, and satisfaction with sexual and family life. In conclusion, Dr. Koroļeva emphasized that longitudinal data are crucial for testing various theoretical positions, as they provide measurements on the changes of individual life paths and subjective valuations. She mentioned that there is an acute need for further longitudinal research of young generations.

In response to a growing multidisciplinarity in research, as well as in youth work, a special documentary film programme «Crossing the Borders» was brought to attention of the conference participants and general public. The programme consisted of two exceptional motion pictures based on longitudinal methodologies, which captured lives of young people on the verge of dramatic political and economical changes: «Is It Easy...» (director Antra Cilinska) and «28 Up: Born in the USSR» (dir. Sergey Miroshnichenko). In addition, several parts of a successful and innovative documentary project «15 young by young» (producer Ilona Bičevska) complemented presentations in conference thematic sections linking research, practice and art.

Among other activities, an opportunity was given to young people themselves to share their views and attitudes through participation in a photo stories contest «My Opportunities and My Risks». Any youngster was welcome to submit their works. The entries selected by a professional jury were exhibited at the conference venues. The the winning entries can be found at the conference micro-site

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Abstracts and programme 


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Hans-Joachim Schild

Helena HelveSandra Sebre

Jon Sigfusson

Antra Cilinska

Māra SīmaneAnda Rožukalne

Ritma RunguleIlze Koroļeva

Ilze Trapenciere

Oksana Žabko

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Conference is organized within the Grant Nr. 2010/0195/2DP/ «Latvijas Universitātes Filozofijas un socioloģijas institūta kapacitātes attīstība un starptautiskās sadarbības veicināšana», European Regional Development Fund.




Added: 31.10.2012     Last changes: 24.03.2013
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