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Yugoslavia Table of Contents


Students and Youth

Students were a perennial source of concern for Yugoslavia's communist regime. They often assumed the viewpoint of pure Marxism in criticizing the inequality of the socialist self-management system; in general, students far surpassed their elders in demanding reform. Student unrest erupted in 1968 at several universities, in 1971 at Zagreb University, and in 1981 at Pristina University. In 1968 students in Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, and Sarajevo protested the "embourgeoisement" of Yugoslav socialism and the failure of self-management to create an egalitarian society. The later unrest in Zagreb and Pristina was largely an expression of the respective nationalistic goals of the Croats and the Kosovans.

In the late 1980s, youth publications, especially in Slovenia, provided an important public platform for frank debate of sensitive issues and taboo topics, such as nuclear energy, government corruption, and resistance to military service (see The Media , ch. 4). With the collapse of communism throughout Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, student activists on Yugoslav campuses focused on issues of ecology, nationalism, women's rights, and peace. Polling data, however, showed a high degree of apathy among Yugoslavia's young people. In a youth opinion poll conducted in the port city of Split, 83 percent of the respondents said that nepotism and connections were essential to success; 53 percent answered that knowledge and intelligence had no influence whatsoever on social status, advancement, or success in life.

Data as of December 1990