(Dis)Engaging Youth in Contemporary Belarus Through a Pro-Presidential Youth League

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Abstract

This article explores young people's engagement with the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRYU), a pro-presidential mass membership youth organization that operates in today's Belarus. Drawing on participant observation conducted inside university cells of the BRYU and semi-structured interviews with the organization's members and non-members, it seeks to understand a) what motivates youth to participate in the organization's activities regardless of the stigma attached to its negative attributes, and b) how this participation is acted out and narrated on a grassroots level. By applying Alexei Yurchak's concept of ritualized acts to analyze participation and its motivations, the study finds that young Belarusians can both engage with and disengage from the youth league and its official repertoire. The article concludes by arguing that young people's indifference toward the BRYU and its activities stems from their lifelong experience of Lukashenka's Belarus.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDemokratizatsiya
Volume27
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)263-286
Number of pages24
ISSN1074-6846
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5201 Political History
  • 517 Political science

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