Middle class in contemporary Russia
The chapter examines the size, composition and characteristics of the middle class in contemporary Russia
The peaceful demonstrations in the wake of the Duma elections on 4 December 2011 came as a surprise not only to the international public but also to the Russian leadership. The obvious discontent of the urban population and their demand for fair elections and more political participation sheds new light on Russian society. After years of political apathy a new social stratum, often categorised as the ‘Russian middle class’, seems to be emerging. This may form the crucible for more profound political changes in the future. At the same time, however, there are doubts as to whether and on what basis a middle class in Russia can actually be said to exist. This paper investigates the development and current situation of Russia’s middle class from an economic perspective and draws some conclusions as to its political outlook and potential for change.
The given paper is an analytical reflection of an alternative view to the article published by L.Gudkov and N.Zorkaya “Sterilization of Social Differentiation: Russian ‘Middle Class’ and the Emigration” in previous issue of The Universe of Russia. Authors deliver an idea that there is no middle class in Russia. Instead they speak of a minority of educated and well paid young salariat in megapolises the main civil and political intensions of whom are formed by their will to emigrate from the country. On pages of the current volume V.Anikin brings to attention that in the scope of another methodology these people could be considered as those from upper middle class in Russia. According to the author L.Gudkov and N.Zorkaya explorer an approach of functionalist perspective of social structure. On the basis of broad literature and empirical studies V. Anikin argues that structuralist view is likely to be more appropriate when middle class is considered as a social group. The latter is crucial in the course of defining the frontiers and internal structure of middle class. In this paper it is shown that structuralist way of thinking discovers the heterogeneity of the middle class in Russia, both its core and periphery. According to studies cited by the author the Russian upper middle class constitutes the social core of this group that may embrace up to 15% of the total population from urban and rural areas. It consists of managers, supervises, executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals that gained computer skills and qualification that is required by the contemporary state of Russian economy. In other words these people could be considered as informational workers that constitute upper middle class not only in Russia. The lower middle class in Russia is defined highly structured as consisting of both close and far periphery. The close periphery (21%) comprises self-employed, semi-professionals, workers characterized by status inconsistency between their qualification and occupational statuses, and unemployed pensioners. Far periphery (23%) includes those of Russians who either have no tertiary education or demonstrate low self identification, or low well-being (lower than the median level for their settlements measured by the durables consumption and income). V.Anikin points out that structuralist approach resulted in the estimations like these makes it possible to forecast the further trace of the middle class. At transition to postindustrial society the worldwide shrinkage of middle classes in different countries might be reflected in Russia in the process of elitisation of the upper middle class and prolitarization of the lower middle class.
Contemporary motherhood in Russia is a complex discursive field. The article analyses various ways in which knowledge about motherhood produces specific maternal experiences. The general theoretical framework is the foucauldian concept of discursive power based on knowledge. Motherhood is viewed as a class specific practice. The primary focus of the article analysis is the Russian middle class motherhood. The paper analyses the ways in which middle class women talk about motherhood and negotiate various forms of expert knowledge. The author on the basis of analysis of the interview and parental forums discussions data, and specifically on elaborating the ways in which class is integral to the normative understandings of motherhood. The article presents the short theoretical discussion of the concept of motherhood in relation to such concepts as power and social class; describes political and cultural context of motherhood in Russia; elaborates the concept of responsibility and a number of related to it categories as the primary meaning of middle class motherhood. In the conclusion the issue of why and when Russian middle class mothers consider themselves as “responsible” is discussed.
In the article (which is part of a block of two articles, the second of which will be published in the next issue of the journal) results of analysis of characteristics and dynamics of income and subjective stratification models of Russian society are presented, based on data from several nationwide surveys carried out in 1999-2016. It is shown that the current model of income stratification is characterized by the dominance of the middle strata and is adequately reflected in public consciousness, based on the self-assessment of the positions people hold in the society. Economic crisis that started in 2014 so far did not cause any serious changes in the income stratification model or the assessment of their positions in society by Russians.
As for the methodological results of the analysis, it is shown that the optimal methods for income stratification of Russian society should be found among the relative methods used in developed countries, but not among the absolute methods used in developing countries. In addition, given Russia's regional heterogeneity in terms of modernization progress, it is more expedient to use the aggregate model of income stratification constructed on the basis of pre-stratification of regional communities than models based on the average measures for the country as a whole for the analysis of the social structure.
This EUISS Report features contributions from a group of Russian authors with outstading expertise no important Russian domestic and foreign policy issues. They all contributed analytical papers to the Institute's "Russia Insights" series, which were published online during the weeks befor the parliamentary and presidential elections.