"Beyond the age of innocence" - Adolescents’ beliefs about the institutions of democratic society  

Szabó É.
University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary

The aim of our study was to explore the way Hungarian teenagers (age 17) think about the institutions of democratic society and whether they trust them. A survey (Likert-type scale) was conducted on 649 secondary school youngsters born in the time of dramatic social and political changes in Hungary. Unlike their parents who were socialized in the communist era they grew up in the new plural political system. The teens’ beliefs are constructed on the basis of their parents’ experiences as well as their own specific ones. We supposed that because of this kind of socialization their views on politics are quite confused and they don't trust democratic institutions (e.g. law - jurisdiction, politicians, elections) either. The outcomes of the study support this hypothesis. The interviewees do trust neither the democratic institutional system nor its politicians. They believe that the administration of justice is especially unreliable. Their attitudes toward participation in the elections are also ambivalent.