The New Russia? Yes. Comment on Recent Findings from ‘Is New Russia New?’
This paper addresses the general question raised in the recent study ‘Is New Russia New?’ (2016). The author of this article develops the idea that new Russia is new. He argues with some of the findings of the considered study. The main points are as follows: the changes in Russia are better understood within a transitional discourse; the unique way of Russia is to constitute a Democratic Power integrated within a European civilization; the ‘statist’ path of Russia is not a curse, but a tunnel of opportunities for social solidarity; the social structure of Russia is mostly based on income stratification and class elements, which are likely to coexist with post-industrial traps, like unskilled labor, or the precariat; the human development of Russia is higher than in the Soviet Union, though its growth has reached saturation point; neoliberal policy is a kind of new rut for Russia, which crucially obstructs the structural reforms and perspectives for its successful transition towards the informational age that has yet to arrive.
This chapter describes the changes in the social structure of Russian society since the 1980s to 2015
The British socioemotional economy is marked by a tension between cosmopolitan humanitarian sentiments and the denial of sympathy for geographically close, but socially distant, strangers in need. The essence of this tension can be captured by the Dickensian notion of 'telescopic philanthropy'. A proper understanding of this tension would benefit from examining both short-term and secular trends - proximate and distal causal mechanisms. The paper is not explanatory in nature, but aims to generate sensitizing concepts, while at the same time seeking to steer the altruism, morality, and social solidarity literature towards a more active engagement with history, power, and ideology.
Drawing on the case of Russia’s post-Soviet education reform, the paper explores the interaction between borrowed reformatory solutions and culture codes in the process of neoliberal educational modernisation. Through the examination of the concept of ‘commercial service’ the article shows how bottom-up societal resistance is maintained and normalised in the real-life language of the reform debate among policy-makers, teachers, parents and the general public. Building on policy-as-discourse studies, the analysis unpacks specific conceptual frames behind societal interpretation of educational commercialisation. The article finds that the public debate is stalled by an extreme polarisation and a seeming intractability of such conceptual categories as ‘money’, ‘commerce’, ‘moral upbringing’, and ‘the soul.’ It further argues that instead of mediating borrowed and domestic social meanings, the official reform narrative serves to strengthen the polarisation of opinions, while leaving under-conceptualised a number of important links between market values of competitive individualism, material profit and entrepreneurship and domestic values of egalitarianism, collegiality, moral education and non-materialist values. The article concludes with a discussion of the role of the state in transmitting borrowed policy ideas to the public and the interplay between grassroots resistance and national education policies.
The article constitutes a part of author’s studies on regions and mental geography of the Russian empire. The military actions within own territory normally produce a dramatic and long impact on the spatial imaginations. The Crimean war with its center in newly incorporated New Russia has helped to include this region to the mental maps as the Russian space. The article shows the new symbolic geography formation. It also analyses the efforts of propaganda aimed at maintaining the imperial durability. A special attention is paid to the state militia. The citizen soldiers – nobles and law classes representatives – had the unique opportunity to visit a number of regions. For the inhabitants of Central Russia the border with Little Russia was essential. The perception of Jews has demonstrated xenophobia long before pogroms. Although the authorities had enough reasons to be afraid of separatism, the final conclusion was that the imperial construction is rather healthy. As a result of such a conclusion an elaboration of this construction hasn’t become a part of common program of reforms in Russia. The author used unpublished documents, in particular those preserved in Kiev. The article is a part of the most significant recent international project on the Crimean war. The English translation of the article is published in USA.
Russia has been experiencing the results of an acute economic crisis since 2012. However, the government has not been explicit in its declarations regarding austerity policies. On the contrary, it tends to represent its measures as "normal" and generally justifies cuts to public expenditure and reduced spending as part of a new understanding of the welfare state and socio-economic relations. Nevertheless, there is a clear connection between the crisis and the introduction of conservative discourse and the "traditional values" concept that targets gender equality both in public and private domains.
The Russian case study is exemplary and didactic. As Russia is new to market economics and has never developed a consistent neoliberal agenda, the shift to conservative ideologies came unexpectedly easily. Gender has become a battleground for the government to fight over social problems and austerity measures. Unlike the EU countries, the Russian government does not hesitate to challenge human rights and gender equality, easily shifting the blame to leftist ideologies – primarily feminism – that are held responsible for family instability and the poor state of demography and health. Using the concept of "traditional values" as a cover for increasing austerity measures, the government relies on short-term strategies. However, this shift to conservative public discourse has not been readily accepted by the Russian population, least of all by women. There is clear resistance from various social groups, including women. This resistance is not just taking the familiar form of public protests (although they have been taking place as well), but rather in the form of withdrawal from public space to minimise dealings with the state, a strategy familiar from the Soviet experience of resistance. Therefore, on the surface, Russian public discourse seems to be dominated by officially promoted ideologies, but this does not mean that society just accepts or even implements those ideologies eagerly.
At the same time, there is a clear tendency to follow supranational austerity measures by cutting public spending, amending social security policies, privatising care, and forcing women to return to the double-burden situation in the Soviet-type social contract by openly attacking feminist ideologies, gender equality, and human rights. In this situation, Russian NGOs, especially those with a human rights and gender-sensitive agenda, need more subtle strategies to deal with public policies, starting at the local government level.