Young people in Central and Eastern Europe are
making their life transitions at a time when the societies they live
in are also making transitions from authoritarian regimes to pluralist
democracies and from centrally planned to market economies. What are
the results of the interplay of these problematic transformations?
This article addresses the above question on the
basis of official statistics and data from comparative youth studies
in the region. It argues that a process of flexibilsation is taking
the place of the previous firmly structured and strictly controlled
youth transitions. Young people in the post-communist world are forced
to invent flexible informal strategies in the face of grave
opportunity constraints and move through education and training, work
and leisure, family and peer relationships to uncertain destinations.
In the new unfriendly labour markets young
people try to find a way out of unemployment by investing in further
education, working in the informal economy or abroad. They commonly
view their own situation as 'transition' and prefer to remain in it
while their own countries are also 'in transition'. This helps them
keep their high aspirations while flexibly coping with the
increasingly risky environment of the post-communist world.