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Foreword - Twenty-Five Years of Russian Transformations: Experience of Sociological Analysis

In autumn 2014, the Institute of Sociology RAS (IS RAS) [1] started all- Russian sociological monitoring which formed an empirical basis for realization of the three-year project of the Russian Scientific Fund (2014– 2016), the grant for the realization of which was received by the research group of the Institute on a competitive basis, and later extended until the end of 2018. [2] As of October 2017, seven monitoring waves were carried out, and its results allowed to see the state and dynamics of mass consciousness and everyday practices of the Russians in crisis conditions and at the stage of society transition to the post-crisis situation. Complex and context analysis of the obtained data made it possible to solve one more task of principal importance: show in what way, and using which resources, the Russian society managed to adapt to the new reality and respond to internal and external challenges and risks.

Besides the core monitoring, a group of questions that were repeated in each wave (similar indexes and indicators), the research program also included thematically updated blocks of questions that allowed for sociological measurement of the attitude of the Russian society to the most relevant events and processes in the context of the current social situation. The first and second waves of monitoring were supplemented with indicators of social and economic, psychological, internal and external political nature, which detected the reaction of our compatriots to the hardest stage of the crisis (October 2014 – October 2015), according to popular estimates. A new group of indicators was introduced into the research at subsequent waves, so they not only determined the main strategies and practices of financial and economic adaptation of different population groups to crisis conditions but also made it possible to detect basic, fundamental and mobile, dynamic sociocultural, ethnic national and ethnic religious characteristics of the Russian society that manifested themselves in the conditions of crisis [3].

At the same time, considering the scale and regularity of holding monitoring surveys, the research group could not help expanding the borders of the sociologically studied problems connected with borderline historical data, and included a special group of indicators into the sixth wave of monitoring which characterize the state of historical consciousness of the present-day Russians in the context of the centenary anniversary of 1917 October Revolution, and included another group of indicators into the seventh wave that detected mass evaluations and judgments which define the attitude of our compatriots to the results with which the country came to the twenty-fifth anniversary of post-Soviet reforms.

The current perception of the century-old October Revolution and its consequences by Russians, probably one of the clearest markers of contemporaries’ historical consciousness, is the subject of a separate chapter in our study. This book pays special attention to the analysis of influence of radical transformations performed in key spheres of life of the Russian society after collapse of the USSR, on the level and quality of life of the population and its different groups, to our compatriots’ understanding of gains and losses in the years of reforms, their attitude to democratic institutions and different models of state economy and social sphere management, dynamics of value-based consciousness of the Russians, and interethnic and interconfessional relations.

As is well known, large-scale transformations in post-Soviet Russia are linked with the Yeltsin-Gaydar reforms that started in January 1992, bringing a sharp increase in prices for food, goods and services. In fact, it marked the start of the radical country reformation, transition to the market economy, which defined the path of the Russian Federation development at the stage of its contemporary history for many years ahead. That is why today, a quarter of a century later, the events and processes of those years continue to raise concern among many Russians, especially in the context of shifts that occurred not only in the 1990s, but also in the new century. A decade or more ago, public attention was focused on the discussions about the necessity of these reforms, their reasons and consequences. But the present-day generation of Russians actualized to a larger extent the question about correlation of “Yeltsin” and “Putin” epochs: whether there is continuity between them, or transformation of the Russian society at the start of the 21st century created absolutely new path, which is in many ways alternative as compared to the 1990s.

The two and a half decades that passed is surely a short term for the historical period to evaluate it “from the position of eternity”. For example, we cannot fully eliminate the fact that out descendants will evaluate the ideas and deeds of the 1990s and 2000s in a different way that we do, and that some of them may be critically reconsidered or relevant again. It is just as highly probable that the experience (both negative and positive) of the way that was passed will provide an impulse to a radically new, breakthrough stage of Russian development. Therefore, it is even more important to revise the achievements and failures and try to determine which results of those years are viable and which have been written off for good by history.

In October 2017, the Institute of Sociology of the Federal Research Sociology Center of RAS held an all-Russian sociological study “Twenty- Five Years of Russian Transformations in Evaluations and Judgments of Russians” as part of the mentioned RNF project to detect how Russians perceive the nature and direction of transformation processes, experience of reforming the economic, social and political life of the society in the past twenty-five years, and the shifts that took place in the society over these years.

The study was based on surveying a selective total of 4,000 respondents, who represent the adult population of Russia (aged 18 and older), and are grouped by gender, age cohort, 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 Federal State Statistic Service (Rosstat) for monitoring socio-economic indicators by trend.

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

  1. Megalopolises: Moscow and St. Petersburg.

  2. Territorial and economic areas:

  3. Northern District – Arkhangelsk Region.

  4. Northwest District – Novgorod Region.

  5. Central District – Moscow Region, Ryazan Region, Yaroslavl Region, Tula Region.

  6. Volga-Vyatka District – Nizhny Novgorod Region.

  7. Central Black Earth District – Voronezh Region.

  8. Volga District – Republic of Tatarstan, Saratov Region.

  9. North Caucasian District – Rostov Region, Stavropol Territory, North Ossetia.

  10. Urals District – Sverdlovsk Region, Chelyabinsk Region.

  11. West Siberian District – Kemerovo Region, Novosibirsk Region.

  12. East-Siberian Region – Krasnoyarsk Territory, Irkutsk Region.

  13. Far Eastern District – Khabarovsk Territory.

  14. Republic of Crimea.

At the third stage 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 the constituent entities of the Russian Federation; district administrative centers; urban type settlements; and 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 old; 31–40 years old; 41–50 years old; 51–60 years old; 60+ years old.

The data of two more all-Russian studies performed by IS RAS are used in the study for comparative analysis: 1) “New Russia: Ten Years of Reforms” (2001); 2) “Twenty years of reforms in the eyes of the Russians” (2011). 1750 respondents were polled in both studies on the basis of representative sampling in all territorial economic regions of the country, and also in Moscow and St. Petersburg (sampling of a 2017 study similar in structure) [5].

Preparation of materials for this study was undertaken by a working group composed of: M.K. Gorshkov (head researcher, Foreword, Chapters 11, 13, Conclusion, general editing), A.L. Andreev (Chapter 8),

A.V. Anikin (Chapter 11), L.G. Byzov (Chapter 5), L.M. Drobizheva (Chapter 9), A.V. Karavay (Chapter 11), Yu.V. Latov (Chapters 1, 2),

N.V. Latova (Chapters 2, 11), Yu.P. Lezhnina (Chapter 11), S.V. Mareeva (Chapters 3, 11), M.M. Mchedlova (Chapter 10), V.V. Petukhov (deputy head researcher, Chapters 6, 13, general editing), R.V. Petukhov (Chapter 7), N.E. Tikhonova (Chapters 4, 11), Zh.T. Toshchenko (Chapter 12).

Scientific editors – N.N. Niks, I.O. Tyurina.


1. In July 2017, it became a part of the newly formed Federal Sociological Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences (FSRC RAS).

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

3. See: Rossiiskoe obschestvo I vyzovy vremeni [Russian society and challenges of the time]. Books 1–5. Moscow: Izdatelstvo Ves Mir, 2015–2017; and also Gorshkov, M.K. Russian Society in the Context of New Reality. To results and the continuation of the sociological megaproject. Moscow: Izdatelstvo Ves Mir, 2017.

4. At the stage of quota selection, equal share of quotas is observed for the following social and professional criteria: 1 – workers in industry, construction, mining, without higher education; 2 – engineers in industry and mine construction, with higher education; 3 – employees in trade, catering, services, transportation, public utilities, with comprehensive education (or lower), primary and secondary vocational education; 4 – employees of financial and insurance companies, trade, services, transport, utilities, with higher education; 5 – employees (personnel) of universities, schools, healthcare institutions, management (administrative, political), science, art, media, with higher education; 6 – employees (technicians, operators, librarians, secretaries, nurses, and others) of universities, schools, healthcare institutions, management (administrative, political), science, media, with comprehensive or secondary vocational education; 7 – military personnel, Ministry of Internal Affairs employees, customs and tax officials, with any education; 8 – students of higher education institutions and schools; 9 – workers and people living in villages and urban type settlements.

5. On the results of these surveys, see: Dvadtsat let reform glazami rossiyan: opyt mnogoletnikh sotsiologicheskikh zamerov [Twenty years of reforms in the eyes of the Russians: experience of many years of sociological measurements] / Ed. by M.K. Gorshkov, R. Krumm, V.V. Petukhov. Moscow: Izdatelstvo Ves Mir, 2011.

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