Young people’s social activity as the resource of social development

Rail M. Shamionov,
Saratov State University,
Saratov, Russia

Social activity is viewed as an instance of proactive influence of social subjects (individuals and groups) on the surrounding social environment. It presupposes participation in social life, however, primarily it is linked to proactive and creative attitude to spheres of one’s social life, as well as to oneself as a subject of social being. This phenomenon is interconnected with spheres of social activity, where it not only finds its manifestation, but also sometimes turns into independent activity.

Social activity emerges as a result of individual acquisition of subject and personality qualities, which are predetermined by their inclusion into activity of social groups, social activity of other people, where the acquisition of norms, values and attitudes, outlining the boundaries of possible activity and its direction, takes place.

It is due to social activity, that young people try their hand at various social spheres. This contributes to the establishment of one’s place in the society, self-realization and development of important social skills, which consequently turn into means of communication and tools for achieving success among other people. An important circumstance of modern social activity in young people is the fact that it is supported by the “big” society. This support can be found in the form of various grants (financial funding) that stimulate social activity, as well as in the form of various social initiatives, which are aimed at satisfaction of young people’s needs in terms of realization of their most important needs, i.e. the need for recognition, acceptance, belonging (being connected with others), competence, etc.

Modern research of young people’s social activity in Russia serves as proof of its diversity and combination of its various forms. Thus, the most manifested forms of social activity are as follows: leisure, Internet network, educational-developmental, socio-economic, spiritual, volunteer, etc. Various forms of civil and political participation are in the zone of low preference. This does not mean that young people are not at all interested in civil and political processes. However, they do not possess motivating power, unlike, for example, leisure or economic activity. Studies of young people’s activity in Russia have established that various forms of activity are joined into groups according to the principle of general variability (preference or lack of preference), i.e. civil-political participation, protest-subcultural forms, spiritual and educational, leisure and network. These groups of activity have complex interrelationships mediated by age, education, level of religious belief and civic identity, which contribute to the unambiguous adherence to some (educational and developmental) and a decrease in other (protest-subcultural forms) forms of activity.

Preferences for social activity forms depend on the effects of early socialization of young people and their personal development. For example, it was found out that individuals with autonomous type of subject regulation are to a greater extent committed to socio-congruent forms of activity (adherence to leisure, socio-political and civic activity). At the same time, students with a dependent type of subjective regulation are more prone to protest activity, although the general level of their manifestation in both groups is at the lowest positions.

Numerous studies prove that conditions of socialization influence the manifestation of general social activity in young people. Thus, the experience of parents’ participation in social life of the country increases the likelihood of activity in grown-up children, the conviction that the country presents all the opportunities for this, as well as increases this opportunity. Contrary to popular opinion, neither television, nor radio, social networks, public (political) figures have significant impact on adherence to any forms of activity (even to political one). As a rule, friends and classmates at University/College or colleagues at work become a source of identification in the activity of young people.

In the Russian tradition, studies of the effects of social activity previously concerned only the educational role of organized activity, and until recently there was practically no analysis of the psychological consequences of the forms of activity implemented. Finally, despite social fears regarding social activity of young people associated with risks of radicalization, extremism and other deviations, the containment of such forms of activity can lead to its extreme manifestation. Examples like this can easily be found all over the world. Nevertheless, high level of activity in young people is associated with the values of openness to change and universalism, i.e. the values that act as drivers of the society’s development.


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