The XVII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development was held from April 19 to 22, 2016, at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow with support of the World Bank. For the first time, the issue of education opportunities were discussed in a separate section on the Role of Education in the Reproduction and Reduction of Social Inequalities. The topic brought together Russian, British, Chinese, American, and European scholars. Over three days, the section hosted thematic sessions, presentations of applied and theoretical research, and panel discussions. Discussions highlighted several main aspects, including comparative cross-national research on the effects of educational opportunities, social policy, studies of informal education, and further research.
The keynote speakers of the section were C. Aedo (World Bank), D. Alexandrov (HSE), A. Asmolov (FIRO), P. Bianchi (University of Ferrara), M. Carnoy (Stanford University), M. Feuer (The George Washington University), I. Froumin (HSE), L. Gortazar (World Bank), M. Jackson (Stanford University), N. Karmaeva (HSE), D. Konstantinovskiy (Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences), S. Kosaretsky (HSE), B. Kupriyanov (HSE), H. Levin (Columbia University), R. Murnane (Harvard Graduate School of Education), E. Pavlenko (HSE), A. Sidorkin (HSE), D. Semenov (HSE), V. Sobkin (Russian Academy of Education), K. Szafraniec (Nicolaus Copernicus University), A. Zakharov (HSE).
Today it makes little sense to ask a question, why social scholars are interested in China’s economy as far as the answer is obvious. The growth rate of Chinese economy and duration of its growth period are stunning. It is likely that in the nearest future China will outrun USA in terms of GDP and become the largest economy in the world. Moreover, China has made a huge progress in GDP per capita. But this is not the only reason for the great interest in China. Chinese communist party is still in power. By the standards of the Western democracies, China remains to be an authoritarian state. Taken together, those statements make a paradox: how could communists produce so huge economic growth? Recent history of socialist countries seems to show that it is impossible. Though the Soviet Union sometimes demonstrated fast growth, it couldn’t keep the pace for a long period. In Chinese case, we face a more fundamental phenomenon than just mobilization of a country in order to achieve vital objectives (usually with high costs). “Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional Change in China” by Viktor Nee and Sonja Opper suggests the answer for this question.
The paper gives a review of the existing theories and empirical research devoted to the determinants of wage differences for mothers and non-mothers. The paper is aimed at discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the theoretical approaches in explanation of the mother wage penalty in Russia and other countries. The authors try to explain the wage gap by using three theoretical concepts: human capital theory, theory for compensating differences, and discrimination theory. Relying on the previous research results the authors conclude that wage discrimination does exist for mothers in Russia as well as in other countries like Germany,
the UK and the USA.
This article analyzes how and why direct selling organizations (DSOs), or network companies, or multi-level marketing (MLM) companies can be counted among informal healthcare providers. The paper is based on the results of a qualitative field study conducted in 2013 in the Perm region as part of a larger project on the description of informal healthcare in Russia. The authors used semi-structured interviews with salespeople and observations of their workplaces, as well as interviews with doctors and local residents. Although network marketing of health products in Russia is not widely practiced, it demonstrates vitality in adverse conditions. Unlike many other countries, Russia’s main players are domestic companies that have successfully mastered imported direct selling technologies. The research reveals that these DSOs mimic healthcare institutions by not only medicalizing their products but also providing participants a diagnosis, medical advice, complementary and alternative medicine services, as well as education and promotion of healthy lifestyles. The salespeople’s self-presentation is ambiguous: They criticize official healthcare but demonstrate loyalty to the conventional biomedical model at the same time. This medical mimicry can be considered the side effect of marketing efforts to stimulate sales, the result of the DSOs’ policy to attract salespeople, the manifestation of mimetic isomorphism, and the result of the organizational specificity of DSOs, that is, expansion in the private sphere of members’ lives, including healthcare. In our opinion, none of these reasons is an acceptable explanation, and further work in this direction is necessary to understand informal healthcare markets.
The article presents a comparative analysis of the internal structure and principles of the organization of volunteer associations in Russia and France from the perspective of the sociology of organizations. The theoretical framework of the study combines the concepts of the neo-institutionalist approach in economic sociology and the network approach to organizations. Data are drawn from a series of in-depth expert interviews with the leaders of socially-oriented volunteer organizations in France and Russia (14 interviews). The author also conducted analysis of legal documents and communication materials of volunteer associations in each of the countries studied (approximately 40 documents totaling over 200 pages of text). It appears that the Russian and French volunteer sectors differ not only in structure and legal status of voluntary organizations, but also in the conceptual definition of volunteering. Drawing on empirical data, it was found that the French volunteer associations exist in a structured institutional environment, while Russian voluntary associations perform in a poorly structured, constantly changing environment, the main problem of which is the lack of cognitive and socio-political legitimacy. Thus, the French model of volunteering is more similar to the mechanism of institutional organizations, while Russian voluntary associations are more typical of networked organizations. This research suggests a different vision of the nature of voluntary organizations and argues that it is impossible to ignore national characteristics in the development of social policy. Conclusions drawn from this research could be applied to the development of public policy regarding the non-profit sector in Russia.
The paper is devoted to the interconnection of labour motivation system and organizational culture in commercial banks. The research covers several banks of Barnaul city in Altai region. The main issues discussed in the paper follow as: in which way can system of labour motivation and organizational culture be interconnected? How can the impact of values of a specific type of organizational culture be taken into account while a given bank’s system of labour motivation is being formed?
The article is a rejoinder to a critical assessment of Kapeliushnikov’s study on discursive methods used by M. Weber in The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism that was provided by Ivan Zabaev in his recently published article, “A Nietzschean Take on a Hundred-Dollar Bill: Reading Weber’s ‘Protestant Ethic’: in Connection with a Contemporary Economist’s Comments.” Kapeliushnikov demonstrates that Zabaev’s attempt to view The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism as a treatise on ethics rather than as a scientific study is not justified, and that Weber himself would hardly approve such a moralistic approach. The tendency to substitute a substantive discussion for a manipulation with words is also without merit. For instance, Zabaev’s suggestion that for Weber the German words Gewinn and Erwerb had a diametrically opposite sense is quite absurd. Kapeliushnikov’s commentary pays special attention to Zabaev’s attempts to interpret Weber’s study through a lens of Nietzschean ideas. Paradoxically, this approach has led Zabaev to unequivocally anti-Weberian conclusions. In particular, this Nietzschean interpretation of a famous metaphor of “a steel shell” gets a meaning that is completely at variance with its original conception. Kapeliushnikov concludes that a traditional approach when The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism is seen as a study on economic history or historical sociology rather than as a treatise on ethics is more correct and does not engender numerous aberrations that Zabaev was not capable of avoiding.
The article treats quantitative finance sociologically. It is argued that although mathematical modeling dramatically changed the nature of modern finance, it did not eliminate sociality from financial markets. However, the traditional sociological approach to markets, with its focus on personal social ties and networks, should be transformed as well. Anonymous financial models have not replaced social cues; instead, those models are used socially. This means that investment bank traders use formal mathematical models to predict the decisions of competing traders. Moreover, traders use these models as a reflexive tool. This reflexive modeling creates distributed cognition or dissonance, which helps traders to avoid errors and financial losses. However, this mechanism has an implicit, but very dangerous, drawback: by creating cognitive interdependence, it may lead to massive errors and huge losses in an entire market. While the dissonance effect prevents individual errors, the resonance effect gives way to a collective (market) disaster. Two relevant case studies are considered. Both cases refer to anticipated mergers, but while one of the mergers was correctly predicted, the other one was not. Thus, the first case illustrates the bright side of financial models, while the second shows their dark side. The article contributes to the discussion of the new forms of sociality primarily associated with financial models. The study is based on three years of field research in a major investment bank focusing on traders’ everyday practices.