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Foreword - Российское общество и вызовы времени. Книга третья

Российское общество и вызовы времени. Книга третья
под ред. Горшкова М.К., Тихоновой Н.Е.
2016 г.

Dear reader, you are holding the third book in the series Russian Society and the Challenges of Our Time, which is implemented in the framework of the Russian Science Foundation (RSF) by researchers from the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IS RAS) based on the analysis of the results of nationwide sociological research [1]. Conducted in the format of monitoring at a six monthly interval, such research, in accordance with the project program, focuses on the study of transformation processes taking place in contemporary Russia in the context of real social situations.

The first wave of sociological monitoring (October 2014) coincided with a sharp change in the foreign policy situation, supplemented by internal crises in the financial and economic sphere. Therefore, its purpose was to measure and understand the condition of Russian society in its “entry” into the new conditions of existence. The set aim required selection of sociological dimension indicators that would both take into account the impact on the public consciousness and behavior of Russians as well as domestic socio-economic, political, ethno-religious and socio-cultural factors, as well as foreign policy and economic methods of pressure on the state of mind and mood of Russian society, and reaction of our citizens to the changed situation.

As the analysis of the results of the first wave monitoring have shown, the basic factors underlying the functioning of modern Russian society, have not suffered any profound transformation, but there are various situational changes that could affect the overall structure of the population, produce decadent mass mentality, and provoke widespread protests and distrust of citizens in state institutions. On the contrary, the desire of a number of leading Western countries to “punish” Russia for its reunification with Crimea, with the support of the Russian-speaking population in the South-East of Ukraine, caused a rise in society of a patriotic mindset, and even consolidation of ideologically different social groups and political movements of Russian citizens (the left and the right, the conservatives and the liberals, etc.). As for the context of the current time, the most important characteristics and indicators of the survey revealed the following:

  • With all the severity and criticality assessment of situation in the country by autumn 2014, the state of social well-being of Russians has not gone beyond parameters characteristic of the previously observed period of stabilization and destabilization of the situation in society.
  • Conflicting mass judgments that people identify with emerging problems of everyday life appeared mainly in the understanding of the influence of internal and external factors on the development of the social situation.
  • There was a change of priorities in the assessment of the main sources of threats to Russia in the mass consciousness: the focus of public attention shifted from the problems of internal threats to external ones.
  • The main link joining the opinion of Russians on events and processes which may come from a danger to the country was the Ukrainian crisis: related injection of international tension began to form, according to Russian citizens, the basis of the agenda reflecting the most dangerous trends.
  • The attitude of various segments of the population to Western sanctions established against Russia were generally restrained, conditioned by their usual way of life and well-established level of consumption, and the willingness of society to economize, and support for measures to strengthen the power of Russia was sufficiently high [2].

In general, as shown by the autumn (2014) national survey, the socio- economic, spiritual and psychological life of Russian society that emerged in the previous decade largely contributed to the adaption of mass segments of the population the new realities, which “softened” the acuteness of the first reaction of the society to the problems appearing unexpectedly.

How significant in terms of time and volume could such a resource be for mass segments of the population? What  role  do  basic  factors  of  life  existence and development of Russian society play in its stability and reliability along with the situational ones? These and related issues were answered by the second “wave” of sociological monitoring, carried out by the research team of IS RAS in March 2015. The analysis of its results made it possible to draw the following conclusions:

  • Rising social tension in connection with passing the acute phase of the crisis in the first months of 2015 did not lead to radical changes in the psychoemotional state of the population. And though moods of anxiety did intensify, they did not influence the growth of the group of people  who  perceive  any   situations   in   the   country   through the catastrophic consciousness.
  • The most widespread form of influence of the current economic crisis on the everyday lives of Russians was an increase in prices. Its considerable influence was also expressed in reduced salaries of employees and devaluation of savings possessed by the population. The fear of a sharp increase in unemployment was unjustified and in the conditions of low indicators of dismissals was mainly explained by panic fear to be left without means of subsistence with minimum amounts of unemployment benefits.
  • It turned out that the first six months of the crisis did not become a push towards rebuilding of the country’s economic system with “subsidence” of those labor market segments which are the least efficient for the new economic model. It served as a pretext for local corrections of the situation of separate social and professional groups which were on the whole realized in the interests of employers.
  • The crisis phase of October, 2014 – March, 2015 did not show the depth which could stimulate the growth of protest moods and actions in the society. Moreover, as a  result  of  consolidation  of  the  nation and mass growth of patriotism in the conditions of anti-Russian sanctions and the celebration of 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, and also relatively mild losses in the first months of crisis, different population groups started displaying the signs of new cultural patterns, aimed at mobilization of personal resources for the common good.
  • Despite aggravation of the social and economic situation in the society, the share of self-sufficient Russians that rely on their own forces in overcoming difficulties showed a tendency for considerable growth. The “self-sufficient part of the society” (almost half of the population) is mainly localized among the young and well-off Russians, and also the citizens characterized by expressed achievement attitudes and striving for self-realization.

Interpretation of the results of the second «wave» of monitoring, along with the importance of analyzing the critical state of the Russian society, updated the issue of the necessity of further society movement towards sociocultural modernization. We are talking about transition to an absolutely different economic and political type of social structure, formation of the characteristics of social activism which include such integral parts as reliance on the rational thinking and internal locus of control, tolerance towards social diversity, and secularity [3].

The third «wave» of IS RAS project monitoring, whose results formed a basis for this book, was realized in October 2015, after the Russian society had been affected by the conditions of crisis for one year. Thus, the key tasks of another sociological measurement suggested themselves. It was important to find out how the one-year influence of the crisis situation influenced the social atmosphere, satisfaction of citizens with different aspects of their lives, their personal social and psychological well-being and the mood of the surrounding people. It was necessary to understand the main problems and sources of anxiety of Russians deeper than at the previous stages of research, especially in the sphere of employment and interaction with employers. Also, we could not leave unattended the question of how the interests of the personality, state and society are built up in the period of crisis, whether the signs of crisis influence the sphere of international relations and the religious consciousness of Russians.

Like in the previous two “waves” of monitoring, the volume of selective total of the research amounted to 4000 respondents, representing the adult population by gender, age (broken down by age cohorts), education level and community type.

The representativeness of sociological information was ensured by the use of a multi-stage model of regionalization sampling with quota selection of units of observation (respondents) at the last stage. At the first stage, sampling was carried out  by  the  regionalization  of  territorial  economic  regions  of  the  Russian Federation in accordance with guidelines developed and applied by Rosstat for monitoring socio-economic indicators by trend. In accordance with Rosstat, the total sample was segmented according to two criteria: age and type of settlement.

The second stage of the sampling includes the selection of typical subjects of the Russian Federation within each territorial and economic region. The structure of regionalization is the two megalopolises and 19 other constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

Megalopolises: Moscow and St. Petersburg. Territorial-economic areas:

  1. Northern District – Arkhangelsk Region.
  2. Northwest District – Novgorod Region.
  3. Central District – Moscow, Ryazan, Yaroslavl and Tula Regions.
  4. Volga-Vyatka District – Nizhny Novgorod Region.
  5. Central Black Earth District – Voronezh Region.
  6. Volga District – Republic of Tatarstan, Saratov Region.
  7. North Caucasian District – Rostov Region, Stavropol Territory, North Ossetia.
  8. Urals District – Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk Regions.
  9. West Siberian District – Kemerovo and Novosibirsk Regions.
  10. East-Siberian Region – Krasnoyarsk Territory, Irkutsk Region.
  11. Far Eastern District – Khabarovsk Territory.
  12. Republic of Crimea.

Third level sampling: within the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, further regionalization  was  implemented,  which  is  based  on the statistical quotas by degree of urbanization of five types of communities: megalopolises; administrative centers of constituent entities of the Russian Federation; district administrative centers; urban type settlements; villages.

At the fourth stage sampling, i.e. with direct selection of respondents for the survey by interviewers at set quotas, the quotas were mainly respected by major socio-professional indicators of the respondents [4], and age groups in five age cohorts: 18–30 years; 31–40 years; 41–50 years; 51–60 years; 61 years and older.

There is then an  analysis  of  sociological  data  collected  in  the  course  of the third «wave» of sociological monitoring of the status and dynamics of Russian society in the context of the new realities of the time.

The nationwide research and preparation of materials for the scientific monograph were undertaken by a working group composed of: M.K. Gorshkov (head of research, preface, conclusion, general editing), V. A. Anikina (Chapter 4); L.G. Byzova (Chapter 5); L.M. Drobizheva (Chapter 16); A.V. Karavay (Chapter 8); N.V. Latova (Chapter 2); Yu.P. Lezhnina (Chapter 3); S.V. Mareeva (Chapters 6, 11, 12); M.M. Mchedlova (Chapter 17); V.V. Petukhov (Chapters 5, 15); R.V. Petukhov (Chapter 15); N.N. Sedova (Chapters 1, 10); E.D. Slobodenyuk (Chapter 9); N.E. Tikhonova (deputy head of research, Chapters 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, general editing); A.G. Shevchenko (Chapter 17).

Scientific editors – E.N. Kofanova, I.O. Tyurina. 


1. RNF project No. 14-28-00218 ‘The dynamics of social transformation of modern Russia’s socio-economic, political, socio-cultural and ethno-religious contexts’.

2. For more information, please refer to: Rossiiskoe obschestvo I vyzovy vremeni. Kniga 1 / [Russian society and challenges of the time. Book One / Ed. by Gorshkov M.K., Petukhov V.V.]. Moscow: Izdatelstvo Ves Mir, 2015. Pp. 316-332.

3. Ibid. Pp. 399–413.

4. At the stage of quota selection of respondents, equal share of quotas was observed for the following social and professional criteria: 1 – working industries, construction of mines without higher education; 2 – engineers in industry, construction of mines with higher education; 3 – employees in trade, catering, services, transportation, public utilities with comprehensive education (or less), primary and secondary vocational education; 4 – employees of financial and insurance companies, trade, services, transport, utilities with higher education; 5 – workers (employees) of universities, schools, health, management (administrative, political), science, art, media, higher education; 6 – employees (technicians, operators, librarians, secretaries, nurses, and others) at universities, schools, health, management (administrative, political), science, media, comprehensive or secondary vocational education; 7 – military, Ministry of Internal Affairs workers, customs, tax services with any education; 8 – students of higher education institutions and pupils; 9 – inhabitants of villages and settlements.

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