Перепись населения как инструмент строительства наций
This article discusses the potential role of national censuses in the context of nation building. The discussion is based on the ideas of social constructivism, although the authors explicitly acknowledge several possible limitations of this approach in sociological studies. Specifically, they argue that the processes of nation buildng should take into account the specific historical context, which may or may not enable nation building through certain types of state effort (e.g. national censuses).
The article begins with a discussion of the general mechanisms by which the state attempts to represent people comprehensibly and unambiguously in categories by means of establishing symbolic boundaries to separate them. This is necessary both for primary self- identification and for maintaining and reproducing national identity in general. A census may therefore be regarded as a way of conveying such categories to the population. The authors further discuss how the use and publication of official census data affects everyday interactions among people and their perceptions of the nation’s social structure.
The article draws on examples of how different ethnic groups were represented during the first Soviet census. It also develops the argument by drawing on examples of categorization by means of official documents, i.e. passports. The authors show that citizens were in fact attributed with an additional external ethnicity, which appeared to be independent from their own self-identify. The paper concludes that through such document-based identification, ethnicity became symbolically separated from its bearers, and therefore it has ceased to be an inherent individual characteristic.