Интерпретации цен российскими потребителями: от веры в государство до экономической автономии
On the data of ethnographic study implemented during the crisis of 2014-2017 and post-crisis 2018-2019 the article reconstructs semantic logics by which Russians today interpret volatile market prices. Via constant purposive comparisons of 63 narratives of Russians with different socio-demographic characteristics, it is demonstrated that the citizens’ perception of market prices implicitly refers to the distribution of responsibility for wellbeing among individuals, business and the state. A thirty-year-old market economy in Russia is bringing up wise and cold-blooded consumer who decodes value chains, observes marketing tricks, spends time and effort to buy cheaper. In other words, (s)he demonstrates willingness to internalize the neoliberal self featured by private responsibility and individual sustainability. However, it is not easy for Russians to follow the logic of frugal prices - given the echoes of other semantic registers. In pursuit of the low prices, there is a risk of losing social face as frugality may be interpreted by significant others as an inability to earn. Although the consumer boom in Russia is far behind, the logic of “frantic” consumption, when inflated prices are used as an instrument of social self-affirmation, is visibly present in the narratives of Russians. At the same time market prices are expected to be well grounded and mutually beneficial, i.e. fair. The inability of the state to provide a safe market environment probes its responsibility for the market. References to soviet stability of life questions the social obligations of the state as the basis of its legitimacy. Reasonable prices, which have just been perceived as a subject of market hunting, get to be discussed as a social fact, configurated by the will of the state.