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Materialism as a Social Value and Impetus for Intentions to Emigrate from Croatia

Krešimir Peračković ; Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, Zagreb, Croatia
Stanko Rihtar   ORCID icon ; Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, Zagreb, Croatia

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (1 MB) str. 295-317 preuzimanja: 661* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Peračković, K. i Rihtar, S. (2016). Materijalizam kao društvena vrijednost i poticaj namjerama iseljavanja iz Hrvatske. Migracijske i etničke teme, 32 (3), 295-317.
MLA 8th Edition
Peračković, Krešimir i Stanko Rihtar. "Materijalizam kao društvena vrijednost i poticaj namjerama iseljavanja iz Hrvatske." Migracijske i etničke teme, vol. 32, br. 3, 2016, str. 295-317. Citirano 16.02.2020.
Chicago 17th Edition
Peračković, Krešimir i Stanko Rihtar. "Materijalizam kao društvena vrijednost i poticaj namjerama iseljavanja iz Hrvatske." Migracijske i etničke teme 32, br. 3 (2016): 295-317.
Peračković, K., i Rihtar, S. (2016). 'Materijalizam kao društvena vrijednost i poticaj namjerama iseljavanja iz Hrvatske', Migracijske i etničke teme, 32(3), str. 295-317.
Peračković K, Rihtar S. Materijalizam kao društvena vrijednost i poticaj namjerama iseljavanja iz Hrvatske. Migracijske i etničke teme [Internet]. 2016 [pristupljeno 16.02.2020.];32(3):295-317.
K. Peračković i S. Rihtar, "Materijalizam kao društvena vrijednost i poticaj namjerama iseljavanja iz Hrvatske", Migracijske i etničke teme, vol.32, br. 3, str. 295-317, 2016. [Online].

The paper discusses materialism as a value orientation and background of consumerism, and empirically verifies whether it is connected with the intentions to emigrate from Croatia.
The starting point is the definition of materialism as a social value, i.e. belief that the possession of material objects is important, profitable and worthwhile, while consumerism includes dynamic dimension of it or actions focused on achieving these goals. Besides, consumerism is also defined as a culture centred on the promotion, sale and acquisition of consumer goods. From this perspective materialism may be considered an infrastructural value of contemporary consumer culture on a general level, as well as an encouragement of consumer behaviour on an individual level. This primarily means a wider aspect of consumption that goes beyond achieving basic needs, such as existential needs for matter and energy. However, in order to achieve a certain standard of consumption, to ensure access to material goods and climb the consumption ladder, the necessities for such an achievement (or modes of consumption) often cannot be provided according to actual (local) living conditions. Thus, there is a tendency toward improving conditions, higher earnings and generally better quality of life, as one of the most important motives for economic migration. In this way, horizontal mobility - emigration, becomes a tool that provides the vertical social mobility. In this respect materialism takes a dual role: on the one hand it is an infrastructural value of consumer culture, and on the other it is a possible incentive for emigration. This paper tries to give empirical answers to the following questions: 1) Are materialism and emigration correlated, and 2) Does materialism encourage emigration (if aspirations cannot be fulfilled in domestic society)?
Consumerism, as a globally relevant phenomenon, is also present locally, in Croatian society, as well as another relevant phenomenon, but less universal - emigration.
Croatia is a “traditional” emigration country, with unfavourable ratio of expatriate and resident population (it is estimated that the total number of emigrants equals the number of those who live in Croatia). If emigration had not been so intensive and did not last for more than a century, demographic analyses show that at least 6.22 million people would live in Croatia in 2001 or 40.1% more than today (Nejašmić, 2014). Taking into account a longer historical period, the Ottoman and other conquests (only the Ottoman threat lasted for four centuries), both World Wars and the Croatian War of Independence in the late 20th century, the geo-strategic position (the area of inter-civilizational conflicts or rally of the major political forces) made Croatia a long-term scaffold, so forced emigration often meant saving lives (Rogić, 2000). In addition, scarce technical modernization and the nature of political associations in which Croatia had secondary political role completed the repertoire of motives for emigration: besides saving lives, people emigrated for economic, political and career reasons (Rogić and Čizmić, 2011).
In addition to demographic approach, sociology of migration deals with the broader context and background social factors of migrations, including particular motives of migrants (e.g. Mesić, 2002; Mežnarić, 1991; Mesić et al., 1991; Katunarić, 1974). The literature dealing with this topic is not scarce, but there is a lack of research and analyses focused on a recent wave of emigration from Croatia in more detail, especially after joining the EU. However, it is known that higher earnings, primarily in Western Europe and the United States, are a permanent feature of voluntary and economic migration from Croatia or pull factor. For example, Mesić pointed out that the most agile part of labour force, including a substantial part of those already employed (mostly skilled or highly skilled workers) emigrated by the end of the 1960s. For example, a 1971 survey showed that 77% of emigrants had been previously employed and their main motive for emigration were higher earnings (Mesić, 1991). The thesis on unemployment as the main cause of emigration has not proved to be true even at that time, and this issue is of equal importance today: is emigration primarily motivated by “survival” or by intention to achieve some “surpluses” (material and/or professional). In relation to the earlier period, current emigration occurs in a very different context. The global economic crisis, present in Croatia as well, may not be the most important factor, considering the fact that crisis in general (or lack of professional perspectives) in the underdeveloped country is actually “permanent status”. But the political context is significantly different: after political transition, and especially after joining the EU, barriers to mobility have almost been eliminated, and this probably triggered a new wave of emigration.
According to media headlines, a new wave of emigration from Croatia has reached alarming proportions (in some cases estimations rise up to two hundred thousand people). Official statistics is more moderate: annual records of the Central Bureau of Statistics show that 15,262 people emigrated in 2013, 20,858 in 2014 and 29,651 in 2015 (CBS, 2014, 2015, 2016). However, these records are based on data on the cancellation of residence by the Ministry of the Interior, but since these changes are only partly reported (or at least not immediately), it should be assumed that the numbers are certainly higher. According to available analyses of experts, such as the one of Župarić-Iljić (Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies), those data are not catastrophic, especially when compared with the multimillion departures from Poland or Romania after EU accession. But concern remains: the trend is rising and often whole families are leaving, without intention to return.
Although the emigration of the unemployed and unskilled has negative demographic consequences, the emigration of highly educated (and already employed) experts (brain drain) is harmful to an even greater extent, because the socio-economic damage is twofold: first, it lowers developmental potential and quality of life in local communities, and second, investment in the education of those who left becomes futile.
Besides these objective circumstances and ”traditional” motives, current emigration may be encouraged by materialism (materialistic values) as a latent motive. The aim of this paper was to empirically determine if this is the case. Data for analysis were collected in 2014 by face-to-face survey on a representative sample of adult population of Croatia (N = 1000). Results showed that materialism was relatively low prominent but it had become an evenly distributed (universal) value among the population, which means that to a greater extent it varies individually rather than between relevant socio-demographic and status groups. Younger generations are the exception: they are slightly more materialistic and their intentions to emigrate are much more prominent than among older (40 years and over) segments of population. Likewise, in the cohorts younger than 40 materialism is a significant and independent predictor of intentions to leave, in comparison with other more or less relevant objective (education level, employment, income, type of dwelling, relatives abroad, marital status, number of children) and subjective predictors (satisfaction with one’s own personal standard and general situation in Croatia).
Finally, it is concluded (with regard to the relevance of both phenomena in today's Croatian society) that relationship between materialism and (intended and actual) emigration should be further examined.

Ključne riječi
materialism; consumerism; social values; emigration from Croatia; economic migrants

Hrčak ID: 177001



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