The article is dedicated to the analysis of the content and approaches to the study of Russian political culture from the standpoint of the modern heuristic potential of Russian historical and political science presented in the book by A. Lukin and P. Lukin "Mind Russia to understand. Post-Soviet political culture and national history." The authors seek to present an objective and unbiased analysis of the political culture of post-Soviet Russia through a retrospective of such significant periods of the Russian history as Veliky Novgorod and the Soviet era. One of the authors of the book is a medieval historian, specializes at studying the "West", speaks European languages, works in Germany and Eastern Europe; another is an international political analyst, is an expert on researching the "East", has experience working in the UK, the US and China. Knowledge of various languages, the ability to work with various sources and literature, and acquaintance with dissimilar historical and cultural traditions helped the authors to complement each other in their desire to look at Russia as objectively as possible.
The article starts with considering theoretical problems of the concept of the Other that points to the out-group in dialogical (co)relation with which the identity of the Self is constructed. This concept describes a fundamental and manifold phenomena that needs to be specified and classified. The author argues that a solution of theoretical issues about the figure of the Other lays in the field of empirical research. In particular, the issue of “significance” of the Other for constituting the Self could be decided only on the basis of systematic study of social practices that essentially rely on (co)relation with particular out-groups. Political rhetoric could be a good field for study of symbolic functions of the Other and factors that determine its significance.
Shared representations of the Other are not only an important element of identity construction but also an instrument of the symbolic politics, i.e. public activity aimed at production and dissemination / intrusion of competing visions of social reality. The article demonstrates how a study of patterns of representation of particular macro political communities allow to assess their relative “significance”. Basing on theoretical insights from the literature the author proposes a research method that includes manual coding of the frames of representation of the Other in the context of legitimization of political course with subsequent counting of their frequency added by discourse analysis of each group of frames. This method is tried on the case of comparative analysis of frames of representation of the American and Chinese Others in the rhetoric of the presidents of the Russian Federation (from 2000 to 2015).
The appearance of the article is inspired by the provisions of the new monograph ‘Russia’s Foreign Policy. 1991-2016’ ed. under supervision of and with Introduction by A.V. Torkunov. The authors of the article continue and further develop the book’s comprehensive analysis of main directions of Russia’s foreign policy. Stating the demise of the bipolar and the unitability of the unipolar world under the leadership of one country – the United States, the authors warn against euphoria over the current transition to a multi-polar world. They point out that manageability of the emerging world order is deteriorating and new threats to peace and security are arising while the traditional ones remain acute. At the same time, the possibilities for and level of coordination among states to counter these threats are decreasing. Of particular concern is that the political circles of certain countries oversimplify the problem of use of nuclear weapons and cultivate a false sense of confidence in their ability to control escalation in case of such use. The current state of arms control that remains in deadlock is also deeply troubling. Alongside with these developments, the world witnesses expanding influence and growing importance of Russia and China which to a large extent seek to revise the current global balance of power. On the territory of the former Soviet Union, newly independent states create international associations which are expected to eventually cooperate with their Western counterpart institutions. The current aggravation of relations between Russia and Western countries, especially between Moscow and Washington, seriously reduces the opportunities to consolidate the new world order and to enhance international security. However, Russia’s orientation solely on the East will weaken its competitive position in the world. The further escalation of confrontation does not serve the long-term interests of key global players.
China and Russia are the main driving forces of Eurasian integration. Russia pursues its “pivot to Asia” while China by its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is moving to the West. The interests of Russia and China met in Eurasia and their friendly relations led to several projects of cooperation there. The most important of these are the process of linkage between Eurasian Economic Union and Silk Road Economic Belt Initiative and the plan to create a broader Eurasian Economic Partnership or Greater Eurasia. The Eurasian orientation was a result of a long and painful process of intellectual evolution of the Russian elite caused by realization that the West will never accept Russia as an equal and independent partner. No Moscow leader after Mikhail Gorbachev was originally anti-Western. Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin all tried a Western oriented policy first and at a later stage became disillusioned in it. This article studies the reasons which led the two countries to intensify their cooperation in Eurasia, its current state and prospects for the future.
The article considers issues of social and political transformations in Russia in the late 1980s – early 2000s. It analyzes the historical forks on the road that determined the catastrophe of the Soviet state and the establishment of neopatrimonialism in post-Soviet Russia. Issues of institution building, the dichotomy of structure and agency, as well as the role of network interactions are discussed in the theoretical context of political ontology. The authors show that the social and political dynamic of the perestroika era is broadly consistent with the logic that leads to the onset of a “critical juncture” in the functioning of Soviet political system. The weakening of the rigid hierarchical structure of governance created suitable conditions for new actors (individual as well as collective) to enter the political arena, and the scope of their activities was rapidly expanding. It is equally important that the Soviet system was permeated with a multitude of informal network interactions providing circulation and reallocation of resources. Those interactions ultimately transformed the essence of the system, reconciling the official ideology and repressive practices with the realities of late sovietism. As a result, by the time the USSR disintegrated, an utterly unstable institutional constellation had taken shape, in which informal institutions mostly served as mechanisms correcting the actions of formal ones. Demanding the ”return of the state” at the end of the 1990s mainly had to do with the fact that further expansion of informal institutions and relations could transform from a mechanism of reducing uncertainty into a source of generating new social risks. Meanwhile, in high demand was the ability of a political leader on top of the power hierarchy to manage uncertainty and risks, even if it was exercised by using a combination of formal and informal institutions. In fact, in the late 1990s – early 2000s a request was fulfilled for system stabilization, establishment of generally understandable and acceptable ”rules of the game”, besides in a compromise version, excluding property redistribution, as well as ”privatization” of the state by particular network structures. In general, this regime transformation is a milestone that should be regarded not as a mere change of political leadership, but as a negotiation of the critical phase of post-Soviet development and the onset of a historically long stage characterized by a relative balance between hierarchy and networks, formal and informal institutions, agency and structure.
The article explores semiotics and memetics as two concepts that both seek to play the role of transdisciplinary integrators for humanities. Semiotics with its theoretical and methodological concepts allows to study not only texts in natural languages, but any pieces of semiotic reality. So in prospect it can play in the humanities the role that is similar to that played by mathematics in natural science. However, nowadays semiotic research methods exist only as number of stand-alone methods dispersed in various disciplines, traditions and fields of study. In order to come to function as an integrative methodology semiotic concepts that are in use should be properly reflected from this transdisciplinary point of view. The concept of sign, which is a basic concept of semiotics, is not an exclusive notion that can become an elementary category for the analysis of cultural reality. In social sciences and humanities one can fi da whole range of concepts that try to grasp and represent some abstract elemental forms in which culture is 83brought to existence, developed and reproduced. In this range one can fi d words like myth, idea, imageetc. The meaning of those concepts in some aspects can seem rather similar, but for some reason they exist parallelly and always leave an impression that there is some difference between them that does not allow them to be converged. The concept of meme is one of the newest ones in this set of notions. According to memetics (study of memes), any cultural information is composed of memes, in the same way as biotic information is composed of genes. But is memetics capable of going beyond this primary vision? Can it be a functional theoretical and analytical tool? Can it be complemented with the concepts of semiotics? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these two theoretical and methodological frameworks?
Social media can act as environments that accumulate and concentrate protest sentiment before it brings people to the streets. The social ties that connect people online are similar to their offline ties, and their structure can affect the diffusion of both the protest-related information and the protest itself. In addition, social media can serve as core platforms or environments for articulating collective goals and identities. This article builds on previous scholarship that has developed these ideas, and extends it with an empirical analysis of the Venezuelan Twittersphere during the political unrest in that country.
Short messages, a.k.a. tweets, are the basic building blocks of online protest behavior on Twitter. Some of these tweets get virally retweeted and can achieve very broad audiences. These viral tweets are arguably of key importance for the articulation of the protest sentiment.
But what kind of a tweet tends to become viral? Is it a tweet posted by someone with a fortunate position in the social media network, or the one that stands out as particularly catchy or emotional? We formalize and test these competing hypotheses using two groups of empirically observable features characterizing either the author of a tweet or its content. The first group of features includes the average number of followers the users who posted a retweet have, the total number of followers the author of the original tweet has, whether the author or those who retweet are verified Twitter users, etc. The other group describes the content of the tweet and includes binary indicators of whether the tweet contains links to external platforms, emojis, question or exclamation marks. The dependent variable is the total number of retweets.
We analyze over 5.7 million unique tweets using modern data science approaches and methods (e.g. a LASSO-regression model, cross-validation, etc.) and find that the first-group features are much more informative for modeling the dependent variable. This finding turned out to be very robust and holds for both OLS and LASSO models. In addition, given the increasing importance that social media bots – i.e. automated accounts that are able to post retweet, among other things – have recently gained for political communication, we also performed robustness checks by removing bots from the analysis. We find that the network characteristics matter more than the content-related features under study.