THE GENERATION OF TRANSITION IN EASTERN EUROPE: A GENERATION OF UNCERTAINTY – A GENERATION OF DISTRUST?
Motivated by the 25th anniversary of 1989 a group of practitioners and academics from the former East Bloc countries got together in 2014 to reflect upon the impact communism and transition have had on our societies at large and specifically on the generation of transition. As defined in our work, this is the generation born between 1975 and 1995 and which has come to adolescence in the challenging years of hopes, high expectations and deep transformations.
We formed the Transition Dialogue Network and tried to capture the spirit of some of the countries in a frequently downloaded publication Mapping Transition in Eastern Europe: Experience of Change after the End of Communism.
Our latest research paper is called “The Generation of Transition in Eastern Europe: A Generation of Uncertainty – a Generation of Distrust?” (key findings here) and was point of departure for this gathering. Socialization and popular narratives matter as our attempted profiling of the generation demonstrates. There are stories of peace and stories of war, of loss and of gain, of success and of failures, of new mobility but also constraints, of democratization and of democracy backsliding. None of the countries seems to have come to terms with its past. In the meantime, the generation of transition is the generation of our current and future leaders, agenda setters, teachers, parents. When trying to understand a generation of an entire region, generalization is inevitable. However, it is a useful point of departure to speak about current events, popular civic attitudes, behaviors and skills of the people who lived through the massive (and still ongoing) transformations that were triggered with the end of the Cold War.
The conference helped discuss key experiences of transition, understand their impact on the state of democracy in the region today and interpret the implications for civic education. We gathered around 60 experts from Central and Eastern Europe as well as from the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia (agenda available here). We shared our different ideas about the consequences of not dealing with the past for the process of democratization and we formulated recommendations on how to use means of civic education to improve democracy in our region.
In 2019 we plan a publication with key findings and recommendations for practitioners of civic education in countries of transition.