The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality Understanding Social and Cultural Complexity
Informal practices are both accommodating and resistant to change. On the one hand, they adapt to change and serve to soften external constraints. On the other, they are grounded in informal norms and channel peer pressure within social circles
Russia is renowned for its unwritten rules. There are informal practices in all countries, as these volumes show, but some scholars have argued that in Russia such practices play a particularly important role. The difference, it is argued, lies not only in the scale and diversity of the practices. Rather it is that, for Russians, informality is not an option but a necessity, just as it is part and parcel of the system of governance.
This volume deals with one of the most understudied aspects of everyday life in Russian society. Its main heroes are the providers of goods and services to whom people turn for healthcare instead of official medical institutions. A wide range of agents is described—from network marketing companies to 'folk' journals on health as well as healers, complementary medicine specialists, and religious organizations. Krasheninnikova’s book is based on rich empirical observations and avoids both positive and critical assessment of the analyzed phenomena. Her investigation pays particular attention to the legal, social, and economic status of informal healthcare providers. She demonstrates that these agents tend to flourish in bigger towns rather than in small settlements, where public healthcare is lacking. The study reveals the important role of institutions that are generally not related to alternative medicine, such as pharmacies, libraries, and church shops. The result is a vivid and thorough introduction to the world of self-medication and alternative healing in contemporary Russia. A special emphasis was made on the flexibility of boundaries between formal and informal healthcare due to the evolution of rules and regulations.
The article is devoted to police moonlighting in Russia. Despite the initial function of law regulation, in many countries police transformed in a destructive tool. In contemporary time police are highly involved in economic activity, which is embedded in business and political spheres. The authors describe the complicated intertwining of legal and illegal aspects of the activity, and bring light to fundamental causes of police moonlighting and socio-economic and political consequences of the phenomenon. The article is based on results of researches of key Russian teams in this field.
In this exploratory study, we examined several interethnic ideologies held by individuals (assimilation, colorblindness, multiculturalism, and polyculturalism) from a social ecological perspective. We examined moderation effects of neighborhood ethnic density (ED) on relationships between interethnic ideologies and intergroup bias towards various minority ethnic groups in the Russian context. Intergroup bias was assessed as a composite score of bias toward four ethnic groups who have different cultural distances from the Russian mainstream population: Chechens, Belarusians, Uzbeks, and Chinese. We obtained a gender balanced sample of ethnic Russians from the Central Federal District of Russia (N = 359) comprising of 47% women and 53% men. The measures were used in a Russian translation by an adaptation using the back-translation and cognitive interviews. Multiple regression analysis was used to test the relationships. The results showed that high perceived neighborhood non-Russian ED weakened negative relations between intergroup bias and ideologies that purportedly accept cultural diversity (multiculturalism and polyculturalism). On the other hand, for interethnic ideologies those purportedly reject cultural diversity, high perceived neighborhood non-Russian ED weakened the positive relations between intergroup bias and assimilation and strengthened the negative relations between intergroup bias and colorblindness. The pattern of results suggests that the relationship between attitudes and intergroup bias may change based on the perceived ethnic composition of the local area and frequency of contacts. Although our findings are relatively novel they support the emerging view that attitudes and intergroup relations need to be studied from a social ecological context.
The present paper discusses perspectives of Activity Theory (AT) in the context of contemporary globalizing world, describing which we refer to the notion “De-structuralized modernity” (Sorokin & Froumin, 2020). Radical changes in everyday life challenge social sciences and humanities. Approaches are in demand, which have the potential to comprehend the changing human étant and éntre. We argue that Activity Theory has the potential to face these challenges. Leontiev’s AT grounds on the idea of qualitatively new mental features arising to deal with novel environmental challenges, which is much in line with J.M. Baldwin reasoning on evolution. AT also offers a method to prognosis the upcoming neoplasms. In the same time, applying classics of AT to the current reality, “De-structuralized modernity”, entails the need for new theoretical elaborations of the latter, stemming from the radical transformation of the relations between individual and socio-cultural environments. A unique societal context emerges on the global level, which, on the one hand, requires individual to adapt constantly to changing socio-cultural reality, and, on the other hand, dramatically expands his/her potential for proactive actorhood transforming surrounding structures. We argue that the major and novel challenge for the individual is the task of maintaining the integrity and coherence of the a) Self-identity and b) system of links in and with the socio-cultural environment - in their dynamics and unity. The notion of “culture” has particular relevance and importance in this context because it allows grasping simultaneously two dimensions in their dynamic dialectical interrelations. First, the “internal” (“subjective”, “in the minds”) and “external” (“objective”, material and institutional environment) realities. Second, individual (“micro”) and societal (“macro”) scales of human activities. Discussing the ways to understand these dynamics, we dispute the popular “constitutive view” on personality and refer to the concept of the “ontological shift” (Mironenko & Sorokin, 2018). We also highlight how technological advancements change and “expand” human nature making it capable to deal with the outlined new tasks.
The article deals with the ways Russian authorities have constructed the social problem of HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/ acquired immune deficiency syndrome) in Russia. The statistical construction of HIV/AIDS includes data indicating the significant rise of HIV prevalence in Russia since 2000. The study focuses on what and how Russian authorities speak about HIV/AIDS, while there are official data on the rapid spread of the virus in the country. The work is based on a discourse analysis of the authorities’ rhetoric about HIV/AIDS. During his first presidential terms, Vladimir Putin constructed HIV/AIDS not as an epidemic in the country, but as a “global problem,” representing Russia as a participant in international efforts to combat AIDS. The president problematized the HIV spread through the rhetoric of endangerment but without its crucial term “epidemic,” while at the same time de-problematized HIV in Russia by the strategy of naturalizing (“this is a problem that all countries face”). The Russian authorities appealed to traditional moral values and spoke about marginal or risk groups, rather than risk practices. After the deterioration of relations with Western countries since 2007, the Russian president excluded HIV/AIDS problem from his public agenda, despite the existence of the data on steep HIV growth in Russia. The Russian president’s traditionalism, de-problematization, and silence concerning HIV/AIDS lead to the absence of the HIV/AIDS issues in media agenda, the agenda of local authorities, and consequently the personal agendas of Russian citizens. The consequences are ignorance, fears, stigmatization of people living with HIV, semi-legal status of needle, and syringe exchange programs for intravenous drug users, low antiretroviral therapy coverage, and the continuing HIV epidemic.
We address the external effects on public sector efficiency measures acquired using Data Envelopment Analysis. We use the health care system in Russian regions in 2011 to evaluate modern approaches to accounting for external effects. We propose a promising method of correcting DEA efficiency measures. Despite the multiple advantages DEA offers, the usage of this approach carries with it a number of methodological difficulties. Accounting for multiple factors of efficiency calls for more complex methods, among which the most promising are DMU clustering and calculating local production possibility frontiers. Using regression models for estimate correction requires further study due to possible systematic errors during estimation. A mixture of data correction and DMU clustering together with multi-stage DEA seems most promising at the moment. Analyzing several stages of transforming society’s resources into social welfare will allow for picking out the weak points in a state agency’s work.