Youth Opinion Analysis

Time frame: March-June 2019

E-YOUTH conducts a comprehensive analysis of youth opinion (students of higher educational establishments and high schools) in Ukraine and the three Baltic states treating information gathered as an indicator for the national youth opinion on the issues of Ukraine’s relations with the EU, its European orientation and aspirations, on the background of the ongoing violent conflict. In this context, the activity also specifically focuses on the youth views on Ukraine’s relations with the three Baltic states who are EU members. 

E-YOUTH offers a methodological innovation proposing a mixed method in order to identify both attitudes and narratives circulating among youth, aiming to track the reasons behind.

This Research Activity involves four research elements:

  1. Overviews of the main findings on youth opinion using large nation-wide surveys by leading national and international social research groups in each location
  2. Face-to-face semi-qualitative surveys of high school and tertiary students (online or paper-based, depending on the level of technology penetration at the location) –  a semi-qualitative survey with a number of open-ended questions
  3. Focus Group incorporating Q Sort method (online or paper-based, depending on the level of technology penetration at the location)
  4. Group Interviews, following Q Sort focus groups

To contextualise the E-YOUTH findings, the project undertakes secondary analysis of public opinion polls conducted in Ukraine and three Baltic states by leading global and local social research companies. This approach also allows longitudinal perspective on the evolution of general public opinion in the four locations and the place/defining features of youth opinion on the EU and its relations with neighbours to the East (Ukraine included) in the last five years.

Pilot exercise for the Q Sort method, student group interviews and face-to-face semi-qualitative survey took place in November 2019, with the students of T.G. Shevchenko Kyiv National University (during E-Youth Meeting #1). All face-to-face semi-qualitative surveys, focus groups and group interviews take place only after being approved by Human Ethics Committees.

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Previous research by E-YOUTH researchers suggests that individuals, when exposed to political narratives do not choose one narrative over another, but remix narratives, taking parts of various narratives to construct something new. This may be especially the case in young people who have learned to engage with new media in this way. The project is specifically interested in the national comparisons about both EU and member-state youth narratives: while member-states are allies, each has its own foreign policy tradition, doctrine, role in the world, and set of historical experiences and memories. Another innovation is the use of Q-methodology. In contrast to the survey, it allows the study of this remixing of narratives. The aim is not to understand how individuals process information per se, but rather to see how narratives morph and change in the midst of contestation and competition.  Respondents are asked to assess various component parts of narratives (Q-sort); factor-analysis is used to look for patterns in how new narratives are constructed. Using this innovative approach to the study of international affairs in a cross-national study is the main focus of the research programme.

For the main results of this research task, see the two Special Issues published by the E-YOUTH team:

Chaban, P. Heinrichs, A. Miskimmon, B. O’Loughlin (eds.) (2021) Special Issue ‘Reimagining Europe: Youth narratives and perceptions. in Ukraine and the Baltic States”: Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of PostSoviet Democratization, 29(4).

Chaban, H. Mondry, E. Pavlov (eds.) (2019-2020) Special Issue “The EU Baltic States, Russia and Ukraine: Mutual narratives and perceptions”, New Zealand Slavonic Journal, 53-54.

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