Patterns of Transition from Youth to Adulthood in Latvia: Comparison of Four Generations

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 6:45 PM
Room: F204
Distributed Paper
Ilze KOROLEVA , Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
Ritma RUNGULE , Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Riga Stradins University, Department of Sociology and Psychology, Latvia, Riga, Latvia
Aleksandrs ALEKSANDROVS , Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
Inta MIERINA , Institute of sociology, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
Authors analyse the transition of young people to adulthood between the second half of 20th century and the first decade of 21st in Latvia putting in focus the transition from education to work. Employing the generations approach as theoretical frame allows identifying the ties between historical events and living conditions, and individual biographical solutions. We distinguish four generations of youth: 1960–70s, 80s, 90s (the time of national awakening) and the millennium generation. Previous research demonstrates that rapid changes in political system in Latvia echoed in the transition to adulthood. We approach these changes by cross-generational comparison of young people’s transition from education to employment, their occupational choices and effects of education on further life-paths. The analysis is based on data from national youth surveys carried out between 1967 and 2012.

Up until late 1980s the transition to adulthood was a rather standardised process, the system offered stability and security at the beginning of independent life, e.g., guarantied jobs, but some were not satisfied with that. The status of an individual was mainly defined by their position in economic, regional and political structure and was less dependent on personal qualities. The transition to market economy marked the turn towards new models; individual qualities and ability to take risks became more important than qualification and professional training. Finally, global processes marked the transition of millennium generation, when individualisation trends and increasingly complex social life encouraged looking for individual solutions by mixing various strategies and activities. For a long time the society believed that each next generation would achieve a better life. However, looking at the generation that enters the adulthood in present days brings up not so optimistic forecasts. Meanwhile youth research in Latvia suggests that modern youngsters accept the situation and recognise the increase in opportunities.