In recent years, British Council has taken a closer look at the attitudes, mindsets and worldviews of young people aged 18-30. Next Generation research series has been already conducted in 16 countries such as Germany, Ethiopia, Northern Ireland, Turkey, UK and Tanzania. In 2020 Poland got involved as well.

The research is a collaboration between the British organisation Sound Connections , the UK Polish expats association Centrala and the Polish research agency Stocznia, overseen by British Council Poland and the British Council’s Research and Policy Insight team, which is responsible for the Next Generation series worldwide. Thanks to support of the British Embassy for Poland, in March we start promotion of the research findings, opening a discussion about young adults’ attitudes, their engagement and worldviews as well as opinions on politics and social life. 

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?

KEY FINDINGS: 

The research findings of the Next Generation Survey and Focus Group Interviews have been organised under three broad themes, as follows:

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.

Read the recommendations of research participants 

COLLABORATION WITH YOUNG ACTIVISTS, ACADEMICS AND STAKEHOLDERS

What makes Next Generation research series special is the engagement – as advisors – of young people (students, alumni, activists) and academics representing Polish and British higher education institutions. Both groups met virtually on a regular basis in order to discuss preliminary results and share their comments and recommendations. 

In addition to the work carried out under the research programme, British Council Poland’s team identified approximately 200 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working with and for young people and young adults across Poland. The organisations were approached and informed about the research, with a view to raising their interest in the process and gathering opinions and experiences related to their own work with younger people. British Council Poland received positive responses from a range of organisations operating at local, national and international level, including the Centre for Civic Education, Polish-American Freedom Foundation, Foundation for Good Education, Youth Climate Strike, Association for Creative Initiatives ‘ę’, Erasmus Student Network, Eurodesk, Eurydice, Institute for Educational Research, Demagog Association, Love Does Not Exclude Association, Rural Development Foundation and Comenius Foundation for Child Development.

Interested parties were invited to join a stakeholder meeting in November 2020 to discuss the preliminary results of the Next Generation Survey. Attendees included Arte Ego Foundation, Cooperacja Foundation, Rural Development Foundation, Schuman Foundation and Love Does not Exclude Association, along with researchers representing the Institute for Educational Research. Further stakeholder meetings are planned for 2021, with a view to organisations supporting the dissemination of findings once this report is published.

More information on the Next Generation series is available here.