Existing descriptions of rural communities in the Russian North are based on surveys conducted in non-isolated villages. However, many rural settlements in this area have poor to non-existent transport communication with the outer world. Many villages find themselves spatially isolated and these are poorly represented in the existing research. In this paper, the author fills this gap and identifies the structural specifics of territorially isolated local rural communities. Empirically, the study draws on the records from field research conducted by the author in fifteen villages located in five regions of the European part of Russia. The data were collected using in-depth interviews (63 interviews with local inhabitants and 5 with external experts) and participant observation. The research reveals that isolated communities are structurally different from the more common non-isolated ones. While their demography is similar, the population in isolated communities generally has a higher percentage of children and younger people. The inhabitants of such hard-to-reach villages stand out by their way of life, including subsistence patterns, environmental behavior, and housekeeping. Isolation gives the local population certain advantages. The principal one is the practical absence of any interaction with the authorities, both in terms of control and support. The resulting lack of regulatory oversight and control enables the locals to remain in the shadow economy, and resort to the most available and efficient (and thus beneficial for themselves and the community) means of subsistence, such as the appropriation of local natural resources. In turn, the lack of assistance stimulates mutual support and self-organization, which allows the resolution of private and communal issues quickly and efficiently. In sum, these advantages have a positive impact on self-sufficiency and sustainability of hard-to-reach communities.
The article presents the results of an investigation into the life and social standing of a particular new group in Russia: seasonal workers (otkhodniks). Being a seasonal worker (otkhodnik) is a special form of labour migration, i.e. the proactive go-and-return (seasonal) migration of inhabitants of smaller towns and rural villages to capital cities and industrial areas. The authors provide a rough estimate of the scale of this phenomenon, and describe the trends in its development. It is estimated that no less than 15-20 million of Russians do seasonal work (otkhodnichestvo) with at least one in three families in the Russian provinces living on income derived from these occupations, the economic activitiy of which is not registered by official statistics. Seasonal work (otkhodnichestvo) re-emerged in the mid 1990s in the smaller towns of the European part of Russia, but nowadays, it also covers rural areas and extends throughout the country. External occupations include both small "shadow" businesses (primarily in the northern regions), and "shadow" employment in the service sector (more typical for the central and southern regions).
Contemporary seasonal work (otkhodnichestvo) is more than just a new model for coping and survival, and it is regarded as a new social and political phenomenon. For instance, since seasonal workers (otkhodniks) mostly work in the "shadow segment" of the economy, they are also forced to lead a covered way of life. They are rarely involved in public life, even though paradoxically, they are usually the most active members of the local communities. As a result, it affects the character of relations both in the private sphere (i.e. affecting family, friends and neighbours) and the public sphere (i.e. relations with local public institutions and the state). Seasonal workers (otkhodniks) also bring new cultural stereotypes which may be new to the local community (acting as contemporary kulturtragers), and even form the basis for new political relations at the local community level.
This study analyzes the discussion of import substitution in the Russian press from August 2014 to December 2016. By drawing on 269 press media items (obtained from the “Integrum” database and featuring Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Novaya Gazeta, Komsomolskaya Pravda, and Kommersant) the authors show that the discussion is being constructed within the following eight frames – anti-Western, patriotic, nostalgic, sentimental, interest-centered, consequence-centered, selfish and demonstrative. The most popular frames are the patriotic and the consequence-centered ones. However, the spectrum of frames most frequently engaged differs across periodicals. For instance, while the pro-state and pro-government Rossiyskaya Gazeta constructs a predominantly positive image of import substitution through the use of anti-Western and patriotic frames, the more liberal and oppositional Novaya Gazeta often emphasizes the likely negative consequences of such protectionism using the sentimental and demonstrative frames. Komsomolskaya Pravda uses the widest range of frames, but presents the information in a more simplified form to make it clearer to its target audience. In contrast, Kommersant discusses import substitution at a more expert level and invokes the selfish and the consequence-centered frames. Through the qualitative content-analysis of the selected media the authors have produced a list of keywords that serve to determine the place of import substitution in network agenda-setting. Their joint reference analysis has revealed three large clusters in the public discussion: the economic-political, the selfishly patriotic and the protectionist cluster. The authors conclude that the debate on import substitution combines both economic and political arguments; and the media often resort to ideological constructs to justify their attitude towards import substitution.
This article discusses the potential role of national censuses in the context of nation building. The discussion is based on the ideas of social constructivism, although the authors explicitly acknowledge several possible limitations of this approach in sociological studies. Specifically, they argue that the processes of nation buildng should take into account the specific historical context, which may or may not enable nation building through certain types of state effort (e.g. national censuses).
The article begins with a discussion of the general mechanisms by which the state attempts to represent people comprehensibly and unambiguously in categories by means of establishing symbolic boundaries to separate them. This is necessary both for primary self- identification and for maintaining and reproducing national identity in general. A census may therefore be regarded as a way of conveying such categories to the population. The authors further discuss how the use and publication of official census data affects everyday interactions among people and their perceptions of the nation’s social structure.
The article draws on examples of how different ethnic groups were represented during the first Soviet census. It also develops the argument by drawing on examples of categorization by means of official documents, i.e. passports. The authors show that citizens were in fact attributed with an additional external ethnicity, which appeared to be independent from their own self-identify. The paper concludes that through such document-based identification, ethnicity became symbolically separated from its bearers, and therefore it has ceased to be an inherent individual characteristic.
Nikita Pokrovsky's team is conducting a research in the Russian region of Kostroma, with a population of 800,000. Its main agricultural products are dairy, flax, rye, and timber (70 percent of its territory is virgin forest). Pokrovsky noted that the Soviet era chemical plants in Kostroma went out of business, leaving Kostroma's environment as the region's main asset. The conclusion of the research team was that the process of "cellular globalization" is subtly but inexorably changing the region's population despite its seeming isolation from the global trading system. Cellular globalization refers to the emergence of internalized changes within the individual attributable to the effects of globalization. Pokrovsky notes that almost every family in the region's rural areas has relatives in the regional capital of Kostroma, Moscow, or St. Petersburg, and that extended network is carrying the influences of globalization back to the Russian heartland. This process is slowly changing traditional rural attitudes towards wealth-more rural residents are placing greater importance on wealth than in the past, according to the group's research. Another result is a narrowing of accepted community interest in individuals. According to Pokrovsky, this takes the form of an erosion of social mores and respect for law, a reduction in accepted cultural demands limiting individual behavior, increased moral relativity, and a lack of respect for history and tradition. There is an overall marked increase in consumerism and interest in the virtual world of celebrity and mass media at the expense of traditional social values. The effects of globalization will not be limited to the internal lives of the residents of Kostroma, predicted Pokrovsky. The era of diverse, small-scale agriculture within the region that support networks of rural villages is over. Likewise, the Soviet era of thickly concentrated infrastructure in Kostroma, such as the Soviet chemical plants, is past. Pokrovsky suggested that new urban-rural aggregations would come to support each other in the formation of new communities. The economic basis of these communities will include niche agriculture (such as tourism or organic agriculture), regulated hunting and fishing resorts, and local handicrafts.