Six different types of Czechs

A recent unique survey of Czech community involvement describes the layers of Czech society, ranging from the most active individuals to those that are completely passive. Such a ‘map of Czech Society of community engagement’ has never emerged before in the Czech Republic.

We were interested in how people spent their free time, willingly and voluntarily and not on behalf of their loved ones. We asked about small everyday activities, such as how people interacted in Internet chat rooms”, explained project coordinator and social psychologist Jan Krajhanzl.

The survey draws a fairly detailed picture of Czech society: lifestyle, leisure, media monitoring, political behavior, trust in institutions, community involvement and socio-demographic data, including education and income. The architects of the survey, which included 3876 participants aged between 15 to 65 years old, divided their findings into six groups. (For details, see below.)

In a nutshell, Czech society can be divided into two parts: 45% of Czechs are active and 55% are passive. “I cannot say that those who are active are the elite class. Those that are passive often feel that society has nothing to offer them, and they are less confident. Amongst the least popular issues that people were least committed to, were supporting the European Union (1.8%), anti-capitalism (1.9%), and “against the corruption of society” (such as against abortion, homosexuality, compulsory sex education, etc – 1.9%).

What needs to be done, in order to work better with the passive group, is to integrate them into society”, says Krajhanzl. “… we found that there was opposition to those who do not engage in society, which ran across various social classes. Those who are most active often elect radical, anti-system parties”, says Ondrej Matejka, the project coordinator of the Centre of Civil Education, who initiated the survey. Of the active types, people were most likely to engage in supporting the sick and disabled (40.8% of respondents), those in difficult situations (34.8%), and people affected by natural disasters (27%). The most common form of civic engagement was cash donations, material donations and signing petitions, strikes and protest organization.

The Centre wants to use the results to promote and to accurately target civic education. “Civic education is often associated with propaganda and indoctrination, but in this case it is quite the opposite, as we aim to address principles which prevent indoctrination. This will lead to a development of free thinking, says Ondřej Horák, the director of the centre for Civic Education.

“The primary targets should be children and adolescents. We should respond to the general frustration and the lack of confidence in our institutions, and democracy itself”, notes Horák.

Here is a summary of the survey’s findings, dividing the populace into six segments with associated characteristics:

The six segments of Czech society:

  1. Generally active: estimated adult population – 540,000 people (7.3%).

  • Use different forms of civic engagement.

  • Dominated by men and those in higher education.

  • Have relatively fewer children; and in terms of size and location of residence, it is not too different from the general population.

  • Often represent the high-income category (over 30 thousand CZK).

  • Very interested in politics, and tend to trust institutions, especially non-profit, politically orientated organizations) and have the highest voter turn out.

  • Use modern technology (notebooks, tablets, smart phones, internet and social networks), they have a lot of varied interests (and score below average in watching TV).

  • Their future looks bright and optimistic and generally they tend to show an average life satisfaction.

  • Most likely to be critical of other people/ Czechs.

  1. Active, but apolitical: the second largest segment, with an estimated adult population of 1. 67 million people (22.5%).

  • Focus in particular on subjects taught in schools, leisure activities, sport, socializing, supporting specific people or groups of people (support for people affected by disaster, sick and disabled people, various environmental political issues).

  • In terms of political issues they score below average in involvement, and are more often involved in local issues. There is a strong prevalence of women who are either secondary school graduates or university graduates, who are either middle-aged or older.

  • Have relatively more children, live in smaller communities, and belong to the category of medium or higher incomes.

  • Most trusting of all groups regarding institutions (political, non-profit, authorities and police) and are interested in political affairs and amongst them are the most religious.

  • In terms of using modern technology, they are slightly more conservative and generally use a laptop, e-mail and online banking. Social networking is used below average.

  • Variety of interests; most own their own homes, cars and the future looks optimistic. They have the highest life satisfaction.

  1. Politically active: estimated adult population of 1.08 million people (14.7%).

  • Involvement is mostly evident in both specific and general political issues (support for a political movement, party or candidate, national pride, activities directed against the EU, anti-war, anti-racism, anti-communism, anti-capitalism, against those that do not engage in society, against gambling, anti-corruption, etc.)

  • Other topics include animal rights and the legalization of cannabis.

  • Another form of involvement focuses on persuading others (by sharing their opinion through social networks and e-mails, discussions on the internet, signing online petitions, participating in protests).

  • Often write a blog, articles to the media, or letters to politicians or businesses.

  • Show an interest or a concern about the quality of the media, sometimes about art or some environmental topic. They are mostly men, people with a secondary school certificate, or with a university degree, largely from a younger age category.

  • Often do not have children; the highest proportion of this segment is situated in Prague.

  • Often interested in politics, are trusting of institutions (with the exception of the authorities, whom they do not trust).

  • Most likely to use modern technology (laptops, smart phones, the internet and social networks), and generally do not own an apartment, car or television.

  • Actively interested in culture, sport, they love to travel, but by comparison to other social groups, they spend significantly less time with their family.

  • Of all the social groups, they show the lowest life satisfaction.

  1. Generally passive: relatively passive segment, with an estimated adult population of 1.46 million (19.8%).

  • Mostly interested in leisure activities and sport, and hold a basic education and training, usually in manual assistance for a specific group of people, or a specific location.

  • Mostly men and those in the youngest age category, mostly living in smaller communities (5 – 20 thousand inhabitants).

  • Not very interested in politics, and tend not to trust institutions, and by comparison to other social groups it was reported they have a significantly lower confidence in NGO’s.

  • Generally, they grew up in the same neighbourhood that they live in today, but do not show a strong connection to their neighbourhood.

  • Less likely to own a laptop, but generally use modern technology.

  • Interests include spending time with friends, resting, driving their car or motorcycle, and attending sporting events.

  • Generally they have an average life satisfaction.

  1. Occasional donors: largest segment, with an estimated adult population size of 1.9 million (25.8%) and are very passive/ inactive.

  • They are not very different to the previous group (helping hands) but they focus on other activities and choose different ways: they are committed to the support of the sick and disabled, and people in difficult life situations. Normally it is a case of financial or material donation, or blood donation.

  • Mostly women with secondary education, and are mostly an older age group with a lower income.

  • Often they have children and live in medium-sized cities (20- 100 thousand inhabitants).

  • They do not express an interest in politics, and their confidence in institutions is slightly below average. They are unlikely to participate in elections and do not show an interest in any religion.

  • They do not use modern technology, generally do not own a notebook or smart phone, but by comparison to other social groups they own a television and are most likely to use it.

  • They participate less in leisure activities, but at least they read often and spend time with their family.

  • Are least likely to spend time with friends.

  • Their future does not look too optimistic, but their overall life satisfaction is average.

  1. Passive/ inactive citizens: second smallest group, with an estimated adult population of 730 thousand (9.9%).

  • They are not involved at all, nor do they plan to do so in the future.

  • Roughly the same ratio of men to women who are less educated, and have a smaller income.

  • The hold the lowest interest in politics and are least likely to vote, and have the lowest faith in institutions.

  • Least likely to be of any religious faith.

  • Compared to other social groups, they have little pride in their towns or in the Czech Republic.

  • They do not use modern technology, and by comparison to other groups they show only an interest in watching television, resting or playing computer games, and have a significantly lower interest in other leisure activities.

Translated by Natalie Rybová

Published in Czech by Hlídací pes, edited by TNP.

published: 3. 7. 2015