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Typical Views, Attitudes and Self-Identifications in Principal Strata of Today’s Russian Society

Social Sciences. 2020. Vol. 51. No. 2. P. 25-45.

In this article, I analyze typical views, attitudes and selfidentifications
in the three principal strata of today’s Russian society from
the perspective of Max Weber’s theory of positive and negative life chances.
By analyzing the returns of two national surveys carried out by the Federal
Sociological Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2015
and 2018, I demonstrate that these strata differ from each other not only in
terms of occupational structure and living and education standards but also
in terms of their members’ typical self-identifications, sets of principles and
values, and views on the current situation in Russia.
While the lower and middle strata are relatively similar to each other, the
upper stratum, which accounts for about 20% of the population, stands out
with its majority’s specific self-identifications, planning horizons,
nonconformism and internal locus of control. Most upper-stratum members
have greater ambitions and are more optimistic about the general situation in
Russia than the rest of the population. The upper stratum also puts distinctive
expectations on the state—it mainly wants the state to ensure a scientific and
technological breakthrough for the country. Social solidarity is rarer while
the stigmatization of the poor is more common in this stratum than in the
other two strata. The upper stratum’s principles and values manifest
themselves in the behavioral strategies of its members.
I come to the conclusion that dividing Russian society into these three
strata meets principal neo-Weberian criteria of class and that, within the
limits of this social structure model, the upper stratum with its objective and
subjective characteristics can be seen as the middle class.