Staunton, November 5 – Vladimir Putin has relied on the fears many middle-aged and older Russians have that any shift away from his authoritarian and centralist approach risks plunging Russia again into instability, but the rising generation, Yury Zinchenko says, takes stability as a given, something that may challenge Putin’s fundamental strategic calculation.
Young Russians today, the Moscow State University psychologist says, “do not experience a lack of stability. They view it as a given.” This sets them apart from those who grew up in the 1990s and earlier who have experienced massive instability and are prepared to support Putin because he promises to prevent its return (vz.ru/society/2020/11/5/1068760.html).
Generation Z, otherwise known as “the Zoomers,” are centered on those who are 18 to 20 years old. That is, they were born since Putin came to power and are only beginning to leave school and seek their places in the economy. Obviously, they aren’t unanimously anything, but as a group, they are very different from Generations X and Y and older ones as well.
The average member of Generation Z in Russia, Zinchenko says, is in much less hurry than those of generations before him to take on regular adult roles. They are marrying and having children later, more frequently shifting jobs, and working as freelancers who change jobs often rather than as employees of established businesses.
They are less interested in becoming middle managers working “20 hours a day” to achieve success than maintaining a balance between work and life, the psychologist says surveys show. Like young people in all times and places, they are more inclined to maximalism and change; but Zinchenko says these values are especially striking among them in Russia today.
The values of Generation Z, he suggests, are well reflected in the bloggers they follow, people who say that social and ecological issues are more important than worrying about stability and fitting in. This “fashion for social responsibility” is now universal, but again it may have particular consequences in Russia because it represents such a change.