Lotta Björklund Larsen’s new book is an ethnography written as a “social biography of things” which is not a rare case in modern Western anthropology. What makes this ethnography special is that the “thing” under study is a report by in-house analysts of the Swedish Tax Agency based on their own two-year research into errors made by small businesses in their annual tax returns. Of course, the anthropologist followed the Agency’s Task Force, not in order to understand why Swedish entrepreneurs make such mistakes, but to understand how the Agency obtains its information
about tax compliance and uses it to motivate citizens to comply, and to what extent the Agency itself is shaped by taxpayers’ perceptions of fairness and by their ways of defining the boundaries between
private and public and between household and business in everyday life. Björklund Larsen claims that, because of the law’s inconsistency, Swedish auditors work as the law’s interpreters and develop artistic skills to balance two different sets of values — “hard” and “soft”. Hard values of controllability are used to legitimate audits, soft values of empathy help to show society that the Agency collects a “fair” amount of money. Even though the Agency appears to have been very successful in this “creolization” of values over the last few decades, the balancing is always very political and risky, and, in order to save its reputation and to maintain the trust of society in most ambiguous situations, the Agency prefers not to rock the boat and to brush research results under the carpet. I would highly recommend Shaping Taxpayers to anyone interested in knowledge production, technology, and government studies.
Based on «Monitoring of Financial Behaviour and Trust to Financial Institutions» (HSE, 2011) the paper is devoted to budgetary management in Russian households. The research findings show a diversity of Russian practices in budgetary management. However, joint/partial pool, indicating equal participation of husband and wife in budgetary management, has become a dominant system. Although the joint budgetary management does not imply that spouses are equally dominant in their household relationships. The article discusses the reasons why men and women perceive an existing budgetary management system in a different way, and reveals factors which allow attributing the households to different types of budgetary management. Key factors determining a choice of a budgetary management type include per capita income, gender, and length of marriage, wife’s level of education, and the type of budgetary management practiced by the respondents’ parents. The impact of the last factor is related to gender of the household members.
This review highlights sociological approaches to the definition and measurement of cultural consumption. Studies regarding this issue are based on the supposition that cultural preferences depend on social position and, therefore, reflect social structure. Nevertheless, despite the long history of cultural consumption research and the existence of numerous studies addressing this topic, the notion is still vague. Several approaches may be found in the literature. Cultural consumption is analyzed as a part of lifestyle that is dependent on class structure. This framework is related to the distinction between highbrow and lowbrow activities and tastes, where each set of choices is only relevant for a particular class. Criticism and further development of this approach is related to the reevaluation of both the structure of cultural consumption and the basis for distinction. More recent studies have addressed not only the symbolic value of cultural products but have also looked at the range of cultural preferences and the intensity of cultural activities. Along with this, papers tackling the modes of cultural consumption are also present. However, existing papers vary in terms of employing these approaches. On the one hand, the definitions are different; studies analyze practices, tastes, or experiences. On the other hand, researchers use different variables and scales to measure cultural consumption.
In modern life commodification has become a widespread phenomenon. A prime example of unique object commodification is commercial motherhood surrogacy motherhood, within which maternity turns from “the women’s social mission” into a service where human life is a final product of monetary transaction. According to Igor Kopytoff, violation of the border between commodities and unique objects leads to the undermining of social order [Kopytoff 2006]. Nevertheless, the existence of commercial surrogacy does not bring disorder, and therefore, the question is: how can this commercial service be functional and legitimate in society? The study is based on the analysis of 14 interviews with staff members of Moscow reproduction clinics and agencies providing the legal support services for surrogate mothers. The authors show that identification of the child’s status, selection of potential parents and surrogate mothers, as well as the regulation of relations between them by staff members, are formed in a way to fit the notion of kinship in accordance with the Euro-American theory of David Schneider [Schneider 1980]. The theory has at its core the idea that kinship relations are primarily determined by common genetic substance and secondarily by social relationships based on specific behavior patterns in the family. This leads to the priority of genetic kin in the creation of kinship ties perception and the decreasing significance of the gestational relationship. Thus, staff members’ recognition of the genetic ties as dominating above all allows for legitimation of commercial surrogacy as a whole and in its organizational aspects through decommodification of the child, who is no longer considered an object of market transaction.
The article is devoted to new forms of employment being formed under conditions of agency work (or leasing labour). The human capital theory postulates that marginal social groups are mainly involved into temporary agency work which doesn’t provide workers with social guarantees. It can be found on the lowest step of the social ladder. So, social costs of increase in labour market flexibility may be very high and show up discrimination of agency workers, pushing them away from the labour market core and transforming them into working poors. The author considers the issues related to agency work in terms of social guarantees and proposes critical views on different topics including social characteristics of groups involved into agency work, motivation for getting jobs, assessment of work conditions, work satisfaction, etc.
This paper focuses on the feasibility of urban development concepts in the frame of different and contradictory needs of city residents. The aim of this paper is to justify the need for marketing approach to big city investigations, define its key principles, and show its main prospects.
The author’s reasoning is based on comparison of "purposeful" and "spontaneous" logic of city development. Through the analysis of various urban conflicts, the author shows that the "spontaneous" logic can prevent urban development concepts, projects, and separate decisions influencing residential life from being implemented when the diversity of residential needs is ignored. On the contrary, marketing approach to urban studies could combine "purposeful" and "spontaneous" logic and, thereby, support city management. However, far too little attention has been paid in the previous resident-oriented marketing studies to the behavioural differences of user groups and interrelated issue of the simultaneous place use. There is also the essential gap in the topic of the selection process of target groups of the megacity marketing of various groups with contradictory interests.
The elements influencing the strategy statement for megacity are considered and, on this base, the following basic principles of the megacity marketing analysis are formulated: 1) to make a comparison between the city benefits sought by its residents and visitors, on one hand, and those which the city or urban concept offers, on the other; 2) to identify user groups with alternative requirements to the city and alternative urban product concepts; 3) to apply the type of the city use as the basic segmentation descriptor.
Techniques of megacity marketing analysis are demonstrated using the results of the empirical study of several Moscow districts.
Practical value of the results obtained is that they can be used as an assessment tool for the urban development concepts feasibility.
This study (research grant No 14-01-02-02) is supported by The National Research University–Higher School of Economics’ Academic Fund Program in 2014/2015.
This article presents a review of literature on the network structure of media markets. The focus on the network approach is not an accident: features which distinguish media markets from other markets as well as the specific nature of media products influence the network configurations and relations between actors in this market.
The author explores how media markets are structured in terms of intramarket relations, what these relations are, and reasons for these relations and what network configuration is typical for media markets. This review focuses on the following questions: How is the media market organized in terms of the intramarket relations of its members? What relations exist in the market? What is the rationale of these relations? What configuration of the network is typical for the media market?
The author suggests that the network structure of media markets can be explained by the peculiarities of media industries and media products. Thus, the literature review revealed that media markets can be characterized by a high share of informal relations within the market structure. Such structure allows reduced risks related to the impossibility of demand forecast for cultural goods and the dependency on individual tastes and fashion. The project-based work of many cultural products influences embedded links between actors. The power of personal social contacts is important, however it is not the same for different stages of the production chain for media products, or for different spatial scales of interrelations and in different sectors of media.
In addition, informal relations are valuable for many types of activities — generating creative products, employment and career developing, etc. Structures of interlocking directorates also exist in media industries, however, there is no evidence that media companies are more intertwined than in other industries. Actors in cultural industries can be characterized by small world network configurations that enable more effective creative process, but can block the entrance of new participants and new ideas.
A number of questions for further investigation are stated in the end of the article
The international conference “‘Between the Carrot and the Stick’: Emerging Needs and Forms for Non-State Actors including NGOs and Informal Organizations in Contemporary Russia” was held at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, on January 28–29, 2016. The conference was organized by the Centre for Independent Social Research (St. Petersburg, Russia) in collaboration with the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki (Helsinki, Finland), Uppsala University (Uppsala, Sweden), and the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Studies (Oslo, Norway). The organizing committee comprised Linda Cook (Brown University, USA), Ann-Mari Sätre (Uppsala University, Sweden), Elena Bogdanova (Centre for Independent Social Research, Russia), Meri Kulmala (Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland), Aadne Aasland (Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Studies, Norway), and Eleanor Bindman (Queen Mary College, University of London, United Kingdom). The conference was dedicated to the problems of non-profit organizations in Russia in the context of the transformation of the political and legal conditions. The conference consisted of six sections, covering such topics as the transformation of the institutional conditions of the NGO sector in Russia, Russian NGOs in an international dimension, and new types of NGO emerging in the changing organizational environment. There were 24 papers presented during the conference by researchers from 10 countries. In addition, a round table was organized with participants from Russian and Finnish NGOs and researchers, during which issues of cooperation between social scientists and representatives of NGOs was discussed. Over 70 people attended the conference. The working language of the conference was English.