Corruption as social phenomenon is studied by a variety of disciplines ― anthropology, criminology, development theory, economics, political science, psychology, sociology. Each of them has developed its own scientific traditions associated with different methods of collecting and analyzing empirical data, such as participant observation in anthropology or sociological interviews.In this paper we describe experimental methods, which in recent years have emerged as an important tool for interdisciplinary social analysis. In the first part of our work, we describe and confront experimental methods to other tools of social analysis, and characterize their relative strengths and weaknesses. In the second part, we turn to the experience of using experiments to study corruption and show their power and applicability whenever other methods are powerless. These conclusions are illustrated by the material of a unique laboratory study involving police officers of middle rank as experimental subjects, conducted by A. Belianin and L. Kosals in Moscow. We model corruption as a public good for potentially corrupt participants and measure their attitude towards this institution under different experimental conditions, especially those when its existence is pointless from individual and social rationality viewpoint. Our results speak in favour of combination of various research tools and methodologies for the study of complex social phenomena.
The author presents a review of “In the Shadow of Regulation: Informality in the Russian Labor Market” edited by V. Gimpelson and R. Kapeliushnikov (HSE Publishing House, 2014). This book is designed as a collection of texts devoted to various aspects of informal employment in the Russian labor market. The book review attempts to explore whether informal employment can be treated as a result of imperfections in the formal employment system or a special sector that helps to overcome those shortcomings. To answer this question, the author turns to basic definitions in order to understand who can be described as "informally employed". Different approaches to defining informality are given. Then, based on empirical results, it’s demonstrated that the position of "informally employed" сan be better as well as worse, compared to "formal employment". The lack of social guarantees can be considered the most evident shortcoming of being informally employed, while saving money due to the absence of taxation can be seen as a key advantage. There are though countries with both higher and lower incomes among the informally employed in world markets. Turning to Russian realities one should pay attention to the heterogeneity of informal employment: in general, informally employed workers have lower incomes, but some groups, such as freelancers, earn more money. The self-estimation of informally employed people does not prove the idea of informal employment as a problem to the employed themselves as they do not assess their status as lower than being formally employed. Taking into account the variety of aspects of informality, it’s hard to assess it either positively or negatively, but it’s rather evident that the struggle against informality itself would be erroneous while the best way to reduce the informal sector is to correct the formal sector to make it more attractive.
As a result of a number of social and demographic changes in recent years, the amount of available places at the level of higher education has significantly increased, and at the same time, the number of applicants for them has decreased. Theoretically, this could lead to an increase in the equality of access to higher education for different social classes. In the paper, using Russian data for the first time, the theory of effectively maintained inequality is tested. According to this theory, the increase in the number of places at a specific level of education may not lead to a decrease in socioeconomic inequality on this level. This is because inequality will be maintained at the level due to the qualitative difference in the received education. Using data from the longitudinal project, “Trajectories in Education and Profession,” two postsecondary educational choices are examined: (1) the choice between vocational and higher education and (2) the choice between going to a selective or non-selective university. Following R. Boudon’s theory, the effect of the family’s socio-economic background on the choice of an educational trajectory is estimated directly and indirectly (through academic achievement). The results show that after finishing school, the direct effect of the socio-economic background is more important for moving to a more academic trajectory than the family’s efforts to improve academic performance. Even with high educational achievements, students from families with low social status make a choice in favour of vocational education rather than a university. When choosing between selective and non-selective higher education institutions, the impact of the family through academic achievement weakens even more. The characteristics of the family directly affect the choice of the trajectory becoming a key predictor.