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Article

Power, Attraction and Reference in the Macro-Level Social Relations: “Closed Group” and “Closed Society” (on the psychology of the “Soviet” and the post-Soviet” person)

Psychology in Russia: State of the Art. 2017. No. 1. P. 117-129.
Radina N., Koskina M.

In this paper, the features of the social relationship systems are analyzed basing on the materials of the socio-psychological empirical study conducted at two stages (from 2002 to 2014). The empirical data obtained in 2002 comprised 417 participants of different ages from Nizhny Novgorod region provincial towns. The elderly respondents have lived almost all their lives under the Soviet regime; the middle-aged respondents got their education and started careers in the USSR. The main objective of the research was to synthesize the individual systems of social relations, the personal notions of power in particular, to compare the finding between the Soviet and the post-Soviet samples, and to make sense of the discovered differences. Empirical data was obtained with the help of Kelly’s Repertory grid technique designed with the purpose to retrieve the interviewee’s personal ideas about the surrounding world and people without imposing any existing conceptions of social reality.    Pertovsky’s three-factor interpersonal relationships model and the concept of the "closed society" make the ground for the theoretical hypothesis we are trying to test. The results for the respondents of different ages, and correspondingly, with different experiences of living in the USSR, are analyzed in terms of the features typical of the closed group. Both the closed societies and the closed groups are characterized by the rigid hierarchical social structure and depersonalization of the social relations and thus the Soviet society can be regarded as closed due to its authoritarian and collectivist nature. We argue that the members of the closed groups and the citizens of the closed society have similar social relationships matrixes and reveal the ways in which the post-Soviet society derived some of its attributes from the "closed society" of the former USSR. Both samples demonstrate the rejection and the mistrust of the powerful, influential figures, however the gradual changes in the understanding of social structure is underway.