Koolinoorte elustiilist ja selle uurimisest nõukogudeaja Eestis. Research on the Lifestyles of School Students in Soviet Estonia

Airi Liimets


There has been no particular difference in the understanding of lifestyle as such on either theoretical or an empirical level, regardless of whether the corresponding research work was performed in Soviet Estonia or in the German-speaking cultural sphere of Europe in the 1990s. There have been noticeably more similarities than differences. The main difference in the research of school students’ lifestyles is likely the treatment of students’ lives at and outside of school in terms of the two areas either being considered mutually intertwined or not. From the very beginning, Heino Liimets’s school of educational sociology was characterised by the treatment of studies as but one piece of lifestyle as a whole, where studying was an activity which acted as an integrator between the life at school and the life outside of it. In the German-speaking cultural sphere, the connection between these two environments has not been held quite as self-evident, and research has only been focusing on their synergy to a higher degree since the mid-1990s. The empirical data collected and analysed by the scholars of the Liimets school during the years 1975–1998 makes it possible to point out six generally important phenomena in the lifestyles of Estonian students:1) In 1975–1987 a continual decline in the appreciation rankings of learning among interesting activities took place, followed by a continual movement towards an increase already before the end of the Soviet era; 2) In 1975–1987, a strong process of alienation of students from school, studies and themselves; 3) The years 1979–1984, the final decade of the Soviet era, saw a characteristic and increasing stagnation also in the students’ attitudes and value-judgements related to their activities and lifestyles; 4) Simultaneously with the processes of alienation from studies, school and themselves, the so-called ’domestication phenomena’ (appreciation of home) in students’ lifestyles increased; 5) In spite of the high value placed on home and friends during the years 1975–1998, the interpersonal perception was rather inadequate; 6) The years 1990–1994 were, on the one hand characterised by a noticeable acceptance of the characteristics of a market economy; on the other hand, the period between 1990 and 1998 was characterised by fluctuations and instabilities as to values, which reflects the rapid changes in Estonian society as a whole during that time. It is difficult to claim that any phenomenon analysed is or is not necessarily Soviet in character, because – as Jüri Saarniit’s interpretations confirm – developments in the value consciousness of Soviet youth were largely synchronous with developments in the rest of the world. The Liimets school’s empirical data on the 1990s confirm that phenomena belonging to different eras seemed to exist simultaneously: a) phenomena that could be interpreteted as Soviet (such as the ’chorus response syndrome’), b) characteristics of a market economy society, such as the importance placed on materialistic and consumer values, which began already during the Soviet stagnation period, c) interest in arts and person’s own cultural development claimed to be typical of a post-materialistic society. However, the latter were also rather characteristic of the Soviet youth in the 1960s and 1970s.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7592/methis.v5i7.538


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