Young, carefree — and careless

University is their dream, the family the most significant social organization in their lives and friends and company their lifeline. Within this closed circle of school, home and friends, young people feel safe and happy. Nothing distracts their attention, nothing strongly engages them apart from unemployment and the quality of their education. Somewhat immature, overprotected, indifferent to politics, remote from broader social problems, suspicious of institutions, they rank love first and devote much time to personal relationships and entertainment. But they are careless of their health – they smoke and drink too much, eat badly and drive without consideration for safety. These are young Greeks aged 15 to 30, according to the University of the Aegean’s Social and Cultural Digital Laboratory report on young people in 2003, which it undertook for the General Secretariat for Youth and the Ministry of Education. Professor Sotiris Chtouris was in charge of the program, aided by Assistant Professor Anastasia Zisi. Young Greeks are not really adults when they come of age, says the report, which is based on a survey of youngsters that was conducted throughout Greece in March and April 2003, as well as on a number of formal statistical data. They live at home with their families, sometimes into their 30s, since they show greater interest in education and their future career and rather less in the problems of earning their daily bread in the here and now. The family is there and provides support. And if it has financial problems, that creates even closer bonds – financial insecurity drives the nuclear family into a defensive, self-protective stance. Thus between the experiential world of the young and the public world there is a gap, which is maintained by their intense lack of faith in institutions and in the authority of experts. According to the researchers (the team included doctors S. Papanis, K. Rontos, M. Desinioti, F. Tzelepoglou, N. Nagopoulos and student M. Dimou), young Greeks have not found the way to connect to broader society and politics. They are uninvolved in public affairs, do not have particularly good relations with the community, and don’t expect help from public institutions. They are conspicuous by their absence from associations, social organizations and political activities.

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