Understanding young people in Brazil, their attitudes and behaviours seems to make great sense to us. Not least because the Brazilian child and youth population amounts to 34.1 million, almost the same as the entire population of Argentina. At the macro level, half of the world population is under 25 and 85% of them live in developing countries.
The results of a couple of unrelated pieces of research focusing on Brasilian youth have both highlighted a tendency towards conservativism and a focus on the importance of education and the family. The first, "Adolescentes e Jovens do Brasil: Participação Social e Política" a wide-ranging quantitative study conducted by the UNICEF in conjunction with the Ayrton Senna Institute and Fundação Itaú Social, questioned more than 3,000 teenagers across the country. Key findings included the following:
- Education was seen as the most significant factor in allowing for a successful life. A majority were happy with the quality of education received but the most commonly cited problems were the lack of classes, places and structure to courses.
- As well as their personal futures Brazilian youth demonstrate concern for the everyday social and political problems facing the country. Political corruption (27%), racial discrimination (17%) and lack of public safety (15%) being the top concerns.
- The principal leisure activities amongst adolescents are visiting the homes of friends (52%), watching TV (52%). On average young people spend nearly 4 hours per day watching TV
Elsewhere, the relatively new and interesting Brasileiros magazine reports on the findings of some qualitative research groups and interviews with young Brazilians from across the social spectrum. The key findings according to the report, not untypical of trends elsewhere are those of a generation no longer in conflict with its parents, increasingly living within the family home and whilst waiting for employment opportunities living out an extended youth. Dubbed the 'Family Generation', the piece argues that the key differences lie between youth in lower social classes who are primarily seeking stability and a better life than their parents and the middle class youth who are more able and inclined to seek a good time. Interestingly the writers argue that the family occupy a space more important than school, the church or the peer group in most young peoples lives with middle class youth tending to be excessively pampered and lower middle class youth having more freedom and mobility.