Youth Barometer 2010

Youth Barometer 2010 (In Finnish: Puolustuskannalla. Nuorisobarometri 2010)

Sami Myllyniemi (Ed.)

Youth Research Network & Advisory Council of Youth Affairs 2010



Nuorisobarometri’s (Youth Barometer’s) statistics reveal that young people’s experiences of insecurity have decreased from survey to survey, and 20-24-year-olds in particular stand out as a particularly “carefree” age group. Even looking for work created less insecurity than before, despite the fact that the survey was conducted during a period of economic recession.

Half of the young people were of the opinion that the EU should strengthen its foreign policy, and almost one third thought that Finland’s foreign policy should be dictated mainly through the EU. A third also supported a joint EU army. On the other hand a traditional national defence has strong support and, according to both Nuorisobarometri and the Advisory Board for Defence Information (ABDI) planning committee surveys, around two-thirds say that Finland must defend herself militarily. Young people have mainly positive experiences of the army, and this attitude remains as people age. Only 2% of young people say that Finland shouldn’t have an army at all. However, young people also supported different kinds of new national service models. While 70% of young people view national service as an important part of Finnish defence, 40% think that the changing world has made universal conscription unnecessary.

Attitudes to immigration have hardened also among young people. The typical attitude is that they don’t want any more immigrants coming to Finland, but on the other hand it doesn’t matter what one’s friend’s religion, skin colour or ethnic background is.

Young people are more leftwing than before, but this doesn’t manifest as increased support for leftwing parties, although the Left Alliance has been slowly but surely gaining in popularity since 2004. Young people’s support for the Social Democratic Party on the other hand has been waning since 2004, and support for the National Coalition Party has been slipping since 2008. The Green party has overtaken the National Coalition Party as young people’s most-supported party. Young people who support the Green Party and the True Finns Party identify themselves as leftwing. Compared to two years ago, young people’s values have become clearly more liberal. When they were asked for the first time to define their ‘greenness’, 59% saw themselves as being more green than not.


Article abstracts

”Home, religion and the fatherland. Liberty, fraternity and equality” -
Where does Finnish pacifism fit in?

Eekku Aromaa

The article deals with the history of Finnish pacifism and analyses pacifism in the Finnish Youth Research Society’s Finnish-language journal Nuorisobarometri. At the same time it will outline Finnish patriotism as a narrative constructed of war history, and as an experience that has been shared by young and older Finns alike. Similarities are identified in the Nuorisobarometri material and previous research on Finnishness. The most common answers related to Finnishness referred to independence and also to the welfare state and safety. National defence is analysed as a part of Finnish identity. It emerged from the Nuorisobarometri research data that youths have almost as strong a wish for a militaristic national defence as the rest of the population.

The article compares views on national service. While the majority of those who have done national service say that they would have joined the army voluntarily, representatives of the army doubt whether a sufficient number of conscripts would sign up of their own free will. Finns’ support for the current national defence policies and an army based on wide conscription is particularly strong, especially in relation to the way that other European countries have looked for ways to reduce their armies or make them more effective. Youths appear to be as resistant to change about these matters as the rest of the population.

In questions in Nuorisobarometri that deal with a lack of safety, youths say that they feel unsafe mainly in connection to human safety, e.g. pollution of the environment and inequality, and only a few say that they feel that lack of safety is connected to a military threat. Similar findings have been made in other studies and in surveys of the whole population.

Youths broadly support the view that violence is always wrong. Very few are of the opinion that war can sometimes be justifiable, and many would like to see the role of the UN strengthened. Youths’ opinions about foreign and security policies appear to be particularly contradictory.


Where do I belong? The cosmopolitan generation and questions about national loyalty

Päivi Harinen & Antti Kivijärvi

The article examines the kind of stance adopted by youths with an immigrant background with regards to issues related to Finland’s national foreign and security policies. It also asks if the respective opinions held by those who are seen to belong to the original population and those with immigrant backgrounds differ from each other in any systematic way. The starting points of the investigation are a discussion about national loyalty and the current critical debate on methodological nationalism. One of the aims of the article is to find answers to the questions of whether youths in Finland with immigrant backgrounds actively stretch and challenge the image of citizenship that is presented to them in the survey questions, which are based on the idea that citizens are active defenders of the country they inhabit.

The article is based on Nuorisobarometri’s survey of youths who are members of the original population (n=1897) and youths with immigrant backgrounds in the organization (n=203). The analysis focuses on questions and claims that measure commitment to the Finnish state and military security. The analysis also touches upon young people’s opinions of the role of the UN and EU in protecting international security.

The research findings indicate that many of the differences between youths who are members of the original population and those with immigrant backgrounds were not as big as the differences within the respective groups when they are divided along the lines of e.g. gender or age. It also seems that the differences of opinion are bigger among the original population compared to those with immigrant backgrounds. Gender is a background variable that differentiates between respondents in the clearest way of all. Young male members of the original population are more ready to (militarily if required) defend Finland than females or young men with immigrant backgrounds in particular.


EU civilian crisis management – in teenage?

Mari Linnapuomi

The article assesses the development of EU civilian crisis management and related attitudes of the Finnish youth on three dimensions: coherence, level of activity and comprehensiveness. As regards coherence, it points out that – even if the number of crisis management operations indicates increasing coherence – disagreements between EU Member States have affected the effectiveness of these operations as well as the choice of crises where EU capabilities have been activated. Concerning activity, the number of EU operations, numbers of deployed personnel and EU financing for crisis management have all raised significantly but gaps persist in recruitment and other capabilities. Finally, the EU is not always able to use its numerous military and civilian crisis management tools in a comprehensive manner.

Half of the Youth barometer respondents voiced support for more active foreign policy, including at EU level, whereas only a third of them are willing to strengthen EU coherence by taking foreign policy decisions at the level of the union. On the basis of the results, four ”ideal types” were formed: the first with a nationalist emphasis, the second supporting strong integrated EU foreign policy, the third relying on the EU taking care of foreign policy, freeing national resources for other purposes, and the fourth adopting a global perspective where the EU is only one actor among many.

The article concludes with some reflections on the need to assess the effectiveness of EU crisis management and on the impact of Lisbon Treaty implementation.


It’s over! Observations on the final survey of conscripts and Nuorisobarometri

Kari Laitinen

The article compared the Finnish Youth Research Network’s survey with data from those who have just finished serving in the armed forces. The merging of the data of two studies on conscript services created an interesting perspective on youths’ understanding of serving in the armed forces. By comparing the survey results it was found that people viewed serving in the army in a similar vein straight after finishing their service as they did a number of years later.

The comparison of the two sets of data led to an interesting configuration, whose results should be taken into account in the development of conscript services. From the point of view of the armed forces, the research design produced valuable feedback from reserves who completed their national service some time ago. The time that reserves spent doing national service forms a stage in their lives when they are socialised into military culture and procedures in a very radical way.

The main finding in the article is that those respondents who have completed their national service (601 people in the Nuorisobarometri study) viewed their experiences in a similar vein to those who responded to the defence forces survey in 2009. Comparison of the data demonstrates that values that are central from the point of view of maintaining the military forces are relatively strongly supported among conscripts and reserves. The traditional ways of measuring the aim of national defence and its scope shows that the respondents are ideologically committed to national defence.

The young Finnish conscript wants his time in the army to be filled with duty, to provide opportunities for him to find new qualities within himself and to get the chance to push and surpass himself. This view is supported by the observations repeated in both surveys about conscription as a stressful experience. The survey also helps to prove that there are changes linked to the life course with regards to attitudes to military defence and the armed forces. This observation is probably explained by changed circumstances.


How young people view the grand narrative of Finland at war

Mikko Salasuo

While conducting participant observation in the Finnish Army’s Kainuu Brigade in 2008, the writer paid attention to a kind of general lack of history. He did his own national service 15 years ago. At that time a way of speaking used in the training and the young men’s relationship with the great narrative of Finland at war seemed to have undergone a transformation.

General conscription is still popular among youths. Young Finns are also patriotic. However, according to the Nuorisobarometri results, the reasons that influence choosing national service are not related to the great narrative of Finland at war. Parental pressure has a surprisingly weak influence on the choice between military or civil service. One’s own family’s war history is in this respect particularly important. Only 31% of those in the services replied that their family’s war history was a moderate or large influence. 33% of those who have yet to complete their national service gave the same answer.

Daniel Bertaux and Paul Thompson have shown that e.g. social status, values and aspirations, fears, views of the world and one’s own body, innate behavioural patterns, and models of parenthood and marriage can all be passed down from generation to generation. The Nuorisobarometri results indicate that youths’ conscious reasons for choosing the army service have a surprisingly loose relationship with the previous generation’s values. Contemporary youths become more estranged every year from what Matti Virtanen calls the war generation. Is the current generation of conscripts the one that manifests a rupture in the present attitude towards military defence? Historical narratives fade into the background and new important things rise to take their place.

Youths attach different kinds of individual, historical, future and imaginary meanings to national service. The fragmentation of meanings poses new challenges for the armed forces. Youths can apparently operate as a collective, but their collective mental landscape is beginning to show cracks. Consideration should be given to how to attach the new meanings to national service. As they disintegrate, individual meanings can gnaw away at support for national service and general conscription too.


Freedom, duty and equality. Young people’s views of the conscription system

Pirjo Jukarainen

The article gathers together questions related to the conscription system and its equality. The Finnish safety debate has excluded the question of gender. Conscripted men are in national health discourse viewed as a whole, without paying attention to the differences within this group. Young women’s added value as women in the defence of the country or in times of crisis has not been acknowledged. Barometri’s question about the best defence system for Finland contained five options: general and selective conscription, voluntary national service, professional armies, or totally abolishing the army. There were more definitive options in the voluntary national service category: suitability or random (lottery). It was once again asked in the voluntary versus obligatory section if it should be applicable to both genders. All in all, the young generation supported a renewal of the conscription system in one direction or another – although the majority supported the current civic duties. Conscription was still seen as men’s duty, while in the case of women it was seen as a civil right. A quarter supported more equality in conscription, i.e. in a system that is either entirely obligatory, entirely voluntary or one that is based on suitability. More selectivity – based on one’s suitability for the military – was supported by 7% of youths. A more voluntary system was supported by 13%, and the majority wanted both men and women to be called up. Less than 1% supported a lottery system. A professional army was also poorly supported. A large proportion of youths were rather in favour of enlarging the army to include women.

The right of women to take part in national service is self-evident – especially to women themselves. Perhaps somewhat paradoxically, women feel more generally than men that the army is particularly useful for men. Almost 40% feel that conscription which is targeted at men is unjust. The spectrum of solutions to the problem of the conscription system is however vast. National service that is required of all, and which would contain a civil as well as a military option, has by far the greatest support. General conscription in Finland will probably change slowly because it is closely related to the question of identity. Conscription suits today’s experience-hungry youth – both male and female. Change in the circumstances with regards to safety however demands that we ask, who is needed, and for what kinds of tasks? When current defence politics do not satisfy youths, we could give them the power to think about how things can be renewed. How can immigrants embrace Finnish identity narratives? And how can Finnish women, who have until now been relegated to mere spectators in the “Winter War” story, be activated?


Youths’ insecurity and uncertainty in 2010

Riitta Vornanen & Janissa Miettinen

The article deals with Nuorisobarometri’s youth survey on experiences of insecurity, how insecurity is linked to close or distant threats, and what factors feed insecurity. The research methods used were explorative factor analysis, mean value studies and MCA analysis. The factor analysis revealed six areas of insecurity which were either more personal (risks of becoming a victim and personal life risks) or less personal (insecurity linked to the unethical behaviour of others, polarization and a lack of collective responsibility, international relationships, religion, political insecurity and environmental catastrophes). Factors can partly overlap with other insecurity factors, but they can be separated into core areas of insecurity.

Experiences of insecurity are examined according to gender, age group, family relations, source of income, and tendency towards optimism or pessimism. Statistically, gender explains very significantly the full scope of insecurity in the way that women feel less secure than men. Insecurity appears to be concentrated among either 15−19 or 25−29-year-olds, or on both age groups. The influence of age on experiences of insecurity therefore seems to be unlinear. When studied according to the main activity, insecurity is experienced most by parents on parental leave, schoolchildren and students. Schoolchildren and students experienced a higher than average level of insecurity for personal and more distant security reasons. Unemployed people and laid-off workers experience personal risks of insecurity regarding income, safety, job-seeking, family members’ security and studying. It is interesting that those on parental leave experience more insecurity than other groups due to more distant insecurity factors when other factors have been controlled for. Pessimistic people experience less insecurity than average, especially with regards to more indirect factors. This result is interesting but would demand further investigation to understand what it means.

Experiences of insecurity are explained by gender, age and youths’ life situation with regards to studying, being at home with children or unemployment. More indirect factors connected to insecurity seem to be connected to the way that young people relate to life. The results provide a certain overall picture of young people’s insecurity issues and their emphasis in young people’s lives. Further studies are however required on e.g. unemployed youths’ insecurity and the reasons why 20−24-year-olds are less insecure than those both younger and older than them.


From peace protest marches (1967) to realism about nuclear war (1988–89) to cosmopolitanism (2010) - Finnish youths’ understanding of world and peace politics in the light of school written assignments from the 1960s and ’80s and Nuorisobarometri data (2010)

Kari Paakkunainen

The writer has compared three different kinds of historically engaging data sets on youths and their understanding of international politics and peace. Data from 1967 and 1988-89 consists of written assignments conducted in schools. These are compared to the Nuorisobarometri results from 2010. Views on world politics have been a focus and arena of fierce political battles between different generations. Change in understanding often signifies a change in the relevant political horizon. The question of how to view international relations has always been a channel for young people to make a distinction and bring new issues into the sphere of politics – both international and global.

The 1960s saw the breakthrough of the international movement that was embodied in the large marches for peace. Global responsibility and idealist-pacifist civil society consisting of young people politicised many new issues and relationships and brought them to civic debates – ideas about order were transgressed and there was a goal to challenge conservative and traditional generations. The youth paradigm at the end of the 1980s focused on realistic ways of dealing with the threat of nuclear war between the superpowers. This kind of frightened caution was connected to the way the media disillusioned people and the cynicism directed at the political establishment. The Russelesque ‘third way’ that downplayed the division created by the Cold War was evident in Finland too.

Now young people (2020) think about the global risks and consider their own participation in European organizations and the uncertainty of cosmopolitan politics. The concept of ‘world politics’, which emphasises global connections and responsibilities, presented itself in young people’s way of thinking in the West already on the eve of the ‘year of madness’, 1967. Both realistic young people who analyse Finland’s international position within the EU, NATO and the UN and the new kind of human rights regime, and the radicals of our time who look for international sanctions, are more than ever part of the global civic society. We are now only one partner among many and a cosmopolitan outlook and responsibility is required of us more than it was from previous generations. Finland can no longer be thought of as standing alone – between or amongst others. The risk-conscious modern world is no longer idealistic, as it was in the 60s, or universally patronising. The realistic cosmopolitan has to find himself from more realistic focal points and personally considered problem contexts – where universalism and relativism, nationalism and ethnicism are intertwined.

Translation (except for Linnapuomi’s abstract): Don McCracken