The first phase of Next Generation Poland started in March 2020, with Poland and the world facing up to the huge global health crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic – a crisis that we are still living through globally. Research participants (2 000 survey respondents from across Poland and 92 participants of 12 focus groups) also addressed other topics that seem especially important in Poland in the year 2020.
These include political polarisation and discussion (heightened by an exceptionally long Presidential election campaign), the roles of and relationships between the media, social networks and civil society, and wide-ranging related debates around demographic change and the social and economic environments and living conditions of young adults in Poland today. How are young Poles navigating and engaging with these local, national and global concerns? How do they understand their place in society and Poland’s place in the world? And what matters to them most when thinking about their own futures and those of their loved ones?
1. Experience and attitudes – Aspirational optimists, facing new emotional and generational challenges
Young Poles are optimistic about their private lives and their own futures. They aspire to independence and financial security, satisfying work, strong relationships and good social connections. However, they experience undercurrents of emotional discontent and anxiety in the face of the complexities of modern life, and face a variety of challenges and limiting factors, including an education they perceive as inadequate, a lack of affordable housing, prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse, and a lack of job offers. The pandemic has led to further negative effects on their lives.
2. Engagement and outlook – Digitally savvy, global citizens with mixed feelings towards Poland and the wider world
Young Poles are extremely comfortable operating in the digital realm. They feel connected to both their country and the wider world. They consider themselves to be more tolerant and progressive than previous generations, but they are pessimistic about their impact when it comes to domestic and global affairs. They are divided when it comes to the benefits of European integration, emigration and globalisation.
3. Voice, views and values – Disenchanted democrats with polarised views
Young Poles feel they lack influence in the political and civic realm, but they hope for change. They are pro-democracy, but many feel disinterested in formal politics. They are polarised in their political, religious and social views and values. Despite this, they share a desire for more personal economic freedom, more public spending and more effective governance, which they hope will lead to a more tolerant society in future.