Iuventa / Výskum mládeže / Data catalogue / 2012 / Young Europeans without borders

Young Europeans without borders

Research identification sheet ID: DAYR 039

Authors of the survey: Mgr. Miroslava Hlinčíková, Mgr. Martina Sekulová
Institutional background of the survey: Inštitút pre verejné otázky (Institute for Public Affairs)
Period of data collection: December 2011 – June 2012
Data collection:Data was collected by the team of authors.

Abstract

The Young European without borders survey project focused on migration experience of young people aged 18 – 35. Its ambition was to contribute to enhancement of the knowledge base about specifics of migration of that group by means of mapping and analysing migration stories, sources of motivation, experience as well as consequences and effects of migration experience on opinions and attitudes towards cultural diversity, European citizenship and their identity. It was an ambition of the survey to extend the knowledge base by experience of young people residing abroad, by positive /negative experience and, last but not least, by consequences of such experience on opinions and attitudes of young people – if and how migration experience and its form influences identity of such individuals and their attitudes to the “others”. Another goal of the survey was to identify possible breaking points in relation to transnational identity and European citizenship, as well as perception of national and ethnic minorities in Slovakia. The above general goals were set in a broader context by the task of verifying a partial hypothesis that the migration experience of young people determines differentiated construction of identities in relation to large social units (Europe, EC). We focused on examination of one identity aspect – the level of self-identification with super-national, macro-social units from the viewpoint of young people with migration experience. We also based our assumption on the fact that the level of identification will, to a large extent, depend on the form of such migration experience, level of integration in the target country and the scope of success in self-actualisation there or the contribution of migration for job career in home country (and elsewhere).

Goals of the survey:

The main goal of the survey was to extend the knowledge base about experience of young people with migration abroad and provide a detailed look at specifics of migration of that group. Another goal was to find out how young people perceive such experience, positive/negative aspects of such experience and, last but not least, consequences of such experience on attitudes and opinions of young people in relation to migration and cultural diversity. There was a partial goal – to uncover how migration experience influences identity of such individuals and their attitudes to “the others” as well as to examine the level of self-identification with super-national, macro-social units from the viewpoint of young people with migration experience.

Survey questions

  • In the survey project we asked the following questions:
  • How do young people self-identify themselves?
  • How does migration experience influence identification of young people?
  • How does migration experience influence perception of traditional and new minorities?
  • How does migration experience influence the level of self-identification with Europe or the European Union?
  • Methodology of the survey and the survey sample
  • Qualitative survey methodology consisting of group interviews, individual in-depth interviews and secondary analysis of web sites, data and strategic documents.
  • Survey sample: total of 48 respondents
  • 6 group discussions (32 respondents)
  • 16 in-depth individual interviews

Conclusions and main findings of the survey

  • Migration strategies of young people are of specific nature compared to other groups of inhabitants. This group can be marked as the most mobile one compared to other age categories – with absence of commitments and desire to check other opportunities as some of the reasons.
  • The most common reason mentioned by participants in the survey, group discussions and individual interviews was the desire to travel and learn and experience something new in new conditions and contexts and improve command of the foreign language. Among important events were stays aimed at education abroad and trips motivated by economic improvement.
  • The survey points out at important role of supporting mechanisms to youth mobility intended for young people or students that provide them with the possibility to apply for study stay at foreign universities, study mobility or internship. Respondents actively used various supporting programs at national and international levels in their migration strategies.
  •  Altogether, participants assessed their migration experience positively. They found improvement of their language competences, extending their knowledge, acquiring self-confidence, reassessment of their recent lives, clarification of their personal short-term and long-term goals, becoming independent and, last but not least, making money as the biggest contribution in this respect. In particular, young people viewed extending their knowledge as the reason of their travelling. Their stays abroad helped them get new view of life, living conditions in their home countries as well as make their own opinions of the world, values and life attitudes and opinions.
  • The survey shows that migration strategies of young people and stays abroad have the impact on perception of cultural diversity by young people, contribute to their perception of differences in the world as well as in their home countries. Respondents in the survey rationally considered their stays abroad to be leading to intercultural skills. Immediate experience with foreign country and other cultures has the potential to contribute to sensitiveness of young people in relation to heterogeneity, remove negative prejudices and stereotypes. However, it does not have to be a rule; interpretation of immediate experience with other cultures and nationalities does not have to lead to increased tolerance and respect to differences or foreigners. Certain participants in the survey kept a strong hostile attitude towards foreigners coming to Slovakia in their search for new life and work, even despite the fact that they spent certain time abroad by themselves.
  •  [the hypothesis that] migration experience of young people determines differentiated construction of identities in relation to large social units was confirmed. The level of identification was determined by the form of migration experience and the level of integration in the target country. Young people most commonly identified themselves with the country or nation as Slovaks. The national identity was thus their basic level of identity. Another often mentioned identification was connection to location where respondents come from (I am “Easterner”, “Central Slovak”, “Košice resident”), or possibly larger region of Central Europe. Young people mentioned the feeling of being European mostly when they were confronted to larger units – in the event of stays on another continent, such as South America or Asia. It was comparing Slovakia to other countries of Europe, i.e. Slovaks and other categories and looking for the common things, which set the context for finding shared features and values.
  •  Problematic identification of young people with European values. Young people found it very difficult to define what it means “being a European”, to describe if there is anything that combines European countries and whether there are any shared European values, shared European mentality and culture. Feelings of “Europeanship” or “European citizenship” were mostly strange to young people. On the other hand, we did not observe absolute absence of personal identification with Europe on the part of respondents. We assume that it was especially due to their personal experience with mobility. The feeling of “being a European” was most commonly generated when confronting to other continents, such as when leaving Europe in in confrontation to values or foreigners from remote countries (from cultural and geographical viewpoint)
  • The notion of multiculturalism is perceived not uniformly. Most commonly it was connected to their own experience with life abroad in various countries, in particular in countries of West Europe, although also outside of it, which were characterised by cultural and ethnic diversity of inhabitants and a high percentage share of migrants in the society. It was experience with life in the environment in which people coming from various countries formed an organic part of it and such diversity as reflected even in the public in the form of shops with various “exotic” food, restaurants from all over the world, signs in more languages, use of foreign languages, etc. According to young people, multiculturalism entails, above all, large cultural diversity – people of various origin, national origin and cultures living together in a particular space, showing respect and tolerance to each other.

Recommendations of the survey

The “Young Europeans without borders” survey uncovered very variable and strongly unknown field of experience of young people with travelling abroad and impact of such experience on their perception of themselves as well as the so called “others” (traditional and new minorities). Based on our findings, we recommend continuing in surveying this topic or possibly extending it by other aspects too. The survey provided us with very rich material that can serve as a basis for a deeper insight into lives of young people with migration experience. It showed that migration abroad means a breakpoint, “point zero” for many people, after which many young people reassess their attitudes and opinions (in the negative as well as positive sense). The survey definitely did not exhaust this field; further steps are selection of a specific part of the surveyed topic and examining it from a deeper perspective.

Prepared by: Mgr. Miroslava Hlinčíková and Mgr. Martina Sekulová

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