The recent studies provide evidence, according to which Russian society has undergone significant change in the past 15-20 years. This change has, in the first place, affected the world perception of Russians, who face challenges and problems that are completely different from what they have been on the eve of this century. This has become clear in the end of 2008 - the beginning of 2009, not only because of the crisis, but also the exhaustiveness of many forms and methods of social organization of life, the degradation of democratic institutions, the reduction in social mobility rates and political activity of Russians. This article is based on the sociological studies of the Institute of Sociology of Russian Academy of Sciences, other sociological centers and is devoted to the analysis of the dynamics of social attitudes at this breaking stage in the history of Russia with its particular possibilities and threats.
This article tests Pierre Bourdieu’s and Richard Peterson’s (“cultural omnivore”) theories of cultural consumption using data on Russian university students. We surveyed student populations of three faculties of an elite university to obtain a sample of respondents which would include holders of high amounts of cultural capital interacting in everyday life with those of considerable amounts of economic capital. Organization of entrance into elite Russian universities in 2007 when the survey was carried out allowed us to obtain just this kind of sample as students showing academic brilliance and paying high fees (or equally high bribes at entrance) were both present in them. We then used separate measures for arts participation, familiarity with a sample of artists, writers and directors, and likes or dislikes for their work. The hypotheses we derived from Bourdiue’s and Peterson’s / DiMaggio’s work concerned (1) overall organization of cultural map (existence of elite/mass polarization vs. centre-periphery structure), (2) presence of homology of forms of high culture vs. segmented organization of consumption; (3) strategic usages of tastes for exclusion vs. selective inclusion. It seems that the omnivoreness theory fits our data much better. We find no negative correlation between tastes for or consumption of mass and elite culture and nearly universal liking exists for the best-known pieces of mass culture or items from school program. This contradicts Bourdieu’s dictum that disliking for widely available forms of art is used by the cultivated elite to distinguish itself from less cultivated masses. We discuss the implications of these findings for other parts of Bourdieu’s theorizing (e.g. fields theory) and for understanding of status boundaries in Russia. An innovative side of this study is using reconstructions of cultural maps, rather than data on class or professional affiliation of survey participants, for verifying theoretical claims. In conclusion we discuss application of these research strategies for analyzing big data sets.
In Soviet enterprises line managers had a high degree of autonomy in the methods by which they achieved plan targets. This autonomy was strengthened with the disintegration of the Soviet system as enterprises struggled to survive by all the means at their disposal. However, with the centralisation and increasing profit orientation of enterprise management, line managers in traditional enterprises face apparently insuperable tasks. Line managers are at the intersection of the aspirations of top management and the reality of the workplace, squeezed between pressure from top management and from the workers they manage. On the one hand, they are responsible for the achievement of the plan targets.on the other hand.they depend on the discipline,loyalty and will of the workers to achieve these targets. In some cases this leads to resistance on the part of the line managers to the demands imposed on them from above, in some cases they ignore or passively subvert those demands, and in some cases they do their best to achieve the demands imposed on them, using their traditional methods. The function of line managers is to deliver the range and quantity of products of the prescribed quality, according to a defined schedule and with the resources allocated for that purpose. It is this function that determines their status and place in the enterprise. One striking finding of our research was that line managers have been largely excluded from strategic decision-making. In independent enterprises a bare majority of shop chiefs participated in decision-making regarding employment, production and work organization, but in enterprises incorporated into holding companies fewer than a quarter of shop chiefs participated in decision-making even in these spheres which related directly to their functional responsibilities, and the majority were only consulted, or only involved once the decisions had been taken. When it came to questions of finance, wages, and even planning and social policy, the majority of shop chiefs were not even consulted before decisions were made and in questions of investment and price-setting the majority were not even involved in discussion after the decisions had been taken. Although the functions have not changed, the responsibilities of line managers have increased, since they now have not only to achieve the plan, but also must maintain quality and control spending. In some cases there has been an increased workload due to the abolition of posts. In other cases the workload may have increased due to the acquisition of more complicated equipment, an increase in the total amount of production, more rigorous quality standards or an expansion of the product range. Frequently, the responsibility and independence "of the line managers has increased because they are having to cope with antiquated and unreliable equipment. But the biggest increase in the burden placed on line managers is that they are having to achieve increasingly demanding tasks with considerably diminished resources. Line managers no longer merely have to beat out the regular monthly plan, they have to achieve unstable and unpredictable production targets, which may change day by day in response to fluctuating sales. This may not lead to disquiet if the tendency is for the plan to be increased, because that means more work and so more wages for the workers in the shop, although it can lead to a big headache for the line managers if they are short of workers. At the same time, they have to do this while meeting everstricter quality demands, with tighter restrictions on the expenditure of money and resources and pressure to reduce the number employed. In carrying out their tasks, shop chiefs continue to face many of the problems that plagued them in soviet times of uneven delivery of essential supplies, of poor quality components and raw materials, of unreliable machinery and equipment and shortages of essential tools and spare parts, although now these problems are often the result of the incompetence or penny-pinching of senior management rather than necessarily of the system as a whole. This has made line managers even more dependent on the skills and commitment of their core workers than they were in soviet times. The expansion of the functions and responsibility of shop chiefs and foremen has not been associated with an increase in the managerial resources at their disposal. Far from it, the attempt to strengthen senior management control in order to subordinate the enterprise to the constraints of the market or the dictates of the owners has markedly reduced the resources available to line managers and the degree of discretion that they can exercise in disposing of these resources. In the opinion of many of the line managers interviewed, they have to deliver the plan in the absence of real material and administrative levers of influence on workers. The centralisation of management control has considerably reduced the resources at the disposal of line managers to provide incentives for their workers. Many enterprises abolished the Coefficient of Labour Participation (KTU) in the 1990s.The KTU.at least in principle, enabled line managers to adjust wages in order to increase the wages of the best workers at the expense of the least productive. Similarly, the centralisation of control of expenditure has led to the abolition of the shop wages fund and the special bonus funds at the disposal of line managers. Although the proportion of the wage accounted for by bonuses has steadily increased, these bonuses increasingly tend to be allocated centrally and are considered by workers as a normal part of their wage. Thus, there are few positive incentives at the disposal of line managers, although in some cases, when workers are paid on individual piece rates, they still have the ability to influence workers' earnings by the traditional method of allocating them to better or worse paying jobs. Nevertheless, the principal levers of influence of line management are negative, through their power to deprive workers of a proportion of their bonus for particular failures or misdemeanours. The career prospects of middle managers have also been severely reduced by the transition to a market economy. In the soviet system the route to senior management positions almost invariably started in the production divisions, and it is still the case in independent traditional enterprises that most top managers had made their careers in the factory, starting in production, but in enterprises that have been integrated into holding companies the top management positions are taken by young staff of the holding company with economic and professional qualifications, but rarely with production experience. Line managers are under severe pressure from above to persuade the workers in their shops and sections to achieve plans and targets from the formulation of which they have largely been excluded, while they have very limited resources with which to achieve their aims. The fact that their wages are also much closer to those of the workers with whom they interact every day leads them in the majority of cases to identify with their workers rather than with senior management. The workers too tend to retain the traditional respect for their line managers, despite the increasing managerial role of the latter, and as in soviet times, identify them as the most important defenders of their interests, ranking them far above the trade union in this respect. Line managers are not the vanguard of working class resistance to the advance of capitalism. Their commitment is to retaining their independence as production managers and their commitment to their workers is to their workers as diligent producers. Line managers may make representations on behalf of their workers, but they do not usually lead their workers into outright resistance to senior management (although they have an interest in pressing for their workers to be adequately paid and they can play a decisive role if there is a struggle for power in the enterprise). They are more likely to ignore, avoid, subvert or transform inconvenient instructions that are handed down from above, very often on the basis of informal relations within the shop and informal connections with managers of other divisions. This is frequently the case with labour discipline,where senior management demands atightening of labour discipline,often with a policy of zero tolerance for drinking at work, but line managers do not want to lose skilled, reliable and loyal workers just because they have a drink now and then. We have seen that line managers are in the front line in the attempt to impose new priorities on the management of production in traditional Russian enterprises. The tendency has been to increase the demands made on line managers, while restricting the resources at their disposal to meet those demands. Combined with their relatively low pay and limited career prospects, these tendencies are likely to lead line managers to identify more strongly with the workers whom they are required to manage than with the senior management which is imposing what they believe to be impossible demands on them. However, there are other tendencies operating in the opposite direction, some of which can be seen as deliberate attempts of senior management to secure the loyalty of their line managers. Where the senior management has made a serious effort to preserve or even strengthen the status and authority of the shop chiefs in order to ensure the manageability of production, the shop chiefs are more likely to identify with senior management and to distance themselves from workers. The shop chiefs are particularly likely to be distanced from the workers in this way in large enterprises, each of whose production shops may be a factory in itself. In this case, the burden of reconciling the demands of senior management and the realities of the workplace falls on the foremen, who take on all the responsibilities of line management. Despite the efforts undertaken by the top management to integrate line management into the management team, at many contemporary Russian enterprises line managers feel themselves to be organizationally closer to the working class. This is particularly the case with foremen and shop chiefs close to pension age with considerable work experience, who are inclined to stand up for 'their' people (the workers of the shop) and to oppose the interests of production workers to those of the administration. But this is not just a matter of the persistence of traditional values and loyalties. It is also a matter of the pressures to which the line managers are subjected. When they are required to persuade the workers under their command to do things which are not technically or humanly possible,because of the limitations of equipment,supplies and human capacities, or for which they are not adequately compensated, the foreman or shop chief has little choice but to take up their cause, not least because this is the only way in which he or she can hope to avoid being blamed for failure to achieve the production plan or quality targets. The incomplete subsumption of labour under capital in Russia today means that class conflicts are still diffused through the structure of management, appearing primarily in divisions within the management apparatus rather than in a direct confrontation between capital and labour. The completion of the subsumption of labour under capital is only really possible where there is substantial new investment, which makes it possible on the one hand to reduce reliance on the commitment of skilled and experienced workers by introducing more reliable modem production technologies and, on the other hand, to pay relatively good wages to provide workers with positive work incentives and line managers with effective levers of management.
According to many researchers one of the main challenges in higher education is the growing competition in the global education market. This article analyses the export of Russia’s higher education from the standpoint of two theoretical approaches: the neoliberal one, in which the university attracts foreign students in order to make a profit, and the political economy approach, according to which the state competes with other states and gains political influence through education. By drawing on statistical and sociological survey data, the article shows that currently the export of Russian higher education is primarily pushed by the universities themselves with the purpose of making additional profits. The state provides a limited number of scholarships for foreign students that serve to improve political loyalty with the countries that form part of the CIS. Nevertheless, as the example of one of the leading Russian universities suggests, the active promotion of educational products abroad can push the attractiveness of Russian higher education in countries both within and beyond the CIS.