Czechs perceive the degree of freedom depending on their finances, but also on their age. Young people feel freer. Older people are more likely to respond critically when asked if everyone is equally free.
This follows from a current survey as of November 17, which was carried out among 511 respondents by the STEM/MARK research agency for the Freedom Festival at the end of October.
Specifically, in response to the question “To what extent do you feel that you live in a free society?”, 10.5 percent of 15- to 29-year-olds responded that they live in a completely free society, with more than 50 percent approaching maximum freedom. Conversely, only 1.6 percent of respondents in this age range stated that they did not feel that they were experiencing freedom at all.
In the middle age of 30 to 44 years, seven percent of people report a feeling of lack of freedom, and in the older age group of 45 to 64 years, exactly 14 percent of those interviewed.
A generation waiting for a retirement bump
Sociologist Lucie Vidovićová from the CERA Center for Aging Research at the Department of Sociology at Masaryk University describes that the current generation of people of pre-retirement age is the first to experience a shock when they retire. He mentions, for example, that these are entrepreneurs who paid the minimum social insurance. At the same time, the pension reform will also begin to affect this generation.
“We can discuss how the times are terribly turbulent, how seniority also passes to younger people,” thinks Lucie Vidović, according to whom the covid pandemic, the war in Europe and the energy crisis can represent such strong impulses that the general mistrust in society, which is shown by people of senior age, spills over to the younger generation.
Jan Burianec from STEM/MARK talks about the fact that it’s not just about age, but it’s also related to education, status, and possibly income.
“Lower satisfaction in general can be reflected in lower trust in the political system or, in this particular case, in a lower perception of freedom,” he says.
“The feeling of lack of freedom among people aged 45 to 64 may also be related to the level of busyness,” points out Jan Burianec and mentions the so-called sandwich generation, which takes care of both children and their parents.
STEM researcher/MARK adds that the survey focused on people working online, so the age group of 65 and over was not included, according to Buriance, retirees could perceive the degree of freedom more positively.
Jan Burianec also adds that lower satisfaction is also related to lower pay and that these people are also the most susceptible to misinformation.
“There is something that I would call a sum of mistrust. If they don’t believe in justice, they don’t believe in the political system or in the fact that we live in a free society,” explains Jan Burianec.
The most important thing is the freedom to vote and choose a profession
It reflects very similarly on the perception of freedom and income. Czechs with incomes of up to 30,000 crowns most often state that they do not feel at all that they live in a free society – 15.6 percent of respondents stated this option. In contrast, only 2.2 percent of people with incomes above 60,000 crowns feel this way.
The feeling of a completely free society was most often reported by people with incomes between 40 and 50 thousand crowns, namely 12.9 percent.
According to the survey, the older people get, the less they feel that all citizens have the same degree of freedom. Almost 22 percent of people under the age of 29 agree that all citizens definitely have the same degree of freedom, and only 10.5 percent say that this is definitely not the case. Only 13 percent of respondents over 45 definitely agree, and 17 percent definitely disagree.
Individual age groups also differ in what “freedoms” they consider very important. For young people, the first thing that comes to mind is the opportunity to vote, followed by the choice of profession. On the contrary, middle-aged and older people put the choice of profession first, followed by the opportunity to vote freely. The ability to gather is also far more important for young people than for other age groups. On the contrary, people over the age of 45 more often emphasize freedom of thought and religion.
All age groups, on the other hand, emphasize the freedom to participate in political life the least. “The results also show that the freedoms gained during the revolution are important for citizens. At the same time, freedom of expression or freedom to elect political representatives is more important than freedom to travel or own property. We evaluate this very positively,” says Jan Gregar, founder of the Freedom Festival, about the results.
The future is more desirable than history
What the interviewed people of different ages agreed on is that the events during November 17 should mainly discuss the present and the future.
It is expected by 42.7 percent of people aged 15 to 29, for whom it is as important as a reminder of history.
For respondents aged 30 to 44, discussion is by far the most desired content of events (44.4 percent), followed by religious acts, but also by the fact that they have no expectations from events (28.9 percent).
“We perceive the need not only to celebrate and commemorate, but to update the velvet anniversary to the present day. These are primarily the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law that we gained through the Velvet Revolution. However, the circumstances threatening these very values are changing, and we, if we are to defend them, have to adapt to it,” Jan Gregar confirms that the Freedom Festival also targets this need of people – it also focuses attention on the current situation and direction into the future.