“Still Living In The Old Times”: Conservative Croatia Still Carries On With The Youth – However Change Is Seen

By Beata Wallstén and Saashmitta Norah Oyen

Graphic by: Beata Wallstén

Croatian youth still remains conservative despite an evident shift towards more progressive attitudes, results from a survey concludes.  

“I think that we are still living in the old times, and that we are too traditional. I think that we have to change since it is the 21st century and people are still living under the old rules”, says Mauro Jerman, a media and PR student based in Dubrovnik.

The survey released in early May highlighted that a majority, 57,8 percent, of Croatian high school seniors do not learn about sexuality at all or an inadequate amount in schools. 

The same survey measured attitudes towards people with homosexual orientation and around a third of the sample think that homosexuality is a disease and that homosexual individuals should not appear in public because of them ‘having a bad influence on young people’. 

Almost 50 per cent of pupils think that homosexuality should not be expressed publicly. 

The Croatian youth still has a conservative outlook on sexuality and minority groups although this has seen a shift towards a more tolerant attitude since the last study in 2015, especially attitudes towards LGBTQ individuals, says Nikola Baketa, researcher from the Institution of Social Research in Zagreb, who conducted the study.

“We expected that the results were going to be either on the same level as before or maybe even worse. I thought they would show less democratic values because we had this tendency between 2013-2016 when we had a conservative revolution.”

According to Nikola Baketa there could be several sources to the shift in attitudes. 

“The thing is that pop culture makes a great impact on students and youth today. If you for example are watching Netflix, diversity is there and they can see the differences which are not present in their local communities.”

At the same time 40 or 50 percent of  Croatian participants express that in school they do not talk enough about national minorities, cultural differences, social and economic inequalities, sustainable development and climate change. 

“The results are better than 2015 but you have to bear in mind that social change is not  going to happen in five years so these tendencies that we are noticing, are small but we can see the progress,” Nikola Baketa concludes.