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Life success and social status factors in the minds of Russians


N.E. Tikhonova, Doctor of Sociology, Professor, Main Researcher, Institute for Social Policy, National Research University Higher school of economics; Main Researcher, Institute of Sociology, Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
mailto: netichon@rambler.ru
ORCID ID=0000-0002-5826-4418
Life success and social status factors in the minds of Russians.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2018. Vol. 9. No. 4. P. 11-43

DOI: 10.19181/vis.2018.27.4.536


This Article is downloaded: 299 times
Topic: Non-monetary inequalities in the lives of Russians

For citation:
N.E. Tikhonova. Life success and social status factors in the minds of Russians. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2018. Vol. 9. No. 4. P. 11-43
DOI: https://doi.org/10.19181/vis.2018.27.4.536




Abstract

This article reveals that, during the last 15 years, drastic shifts have occurred in the subjective social structure of Russian society: the people for the most part no longer consider themselves to be “social outsiders”, while Russian society itself has become a society undoubtedly dominated by a subjective middle-class, albeit predominantly a lower middle-class. However, such a positive shift does not equal Russians being completely satisfied with the situation at hand when it comes to stratification, since their actual position in the status hierarchy is currently much lower not only than desired, but also lower than those status positions which they reckon they should be occupying in this hierarchy “in all fairness”. Russian people’s dissatisfaction is mostly a result of them considering opportunities for success and prosperity to be associated with the social, economic and cultural capital of one’s parents, as well as with various unlawful practices (such as corruption, bribery), not only with one’s hard work or quality education. These views seem to be stable over time, and to some extent they are similar to the views of German people. However, in the eyes of Russians various unlawful practices (primarily bribery) play a greater role when it comes to achieving success in life. In addition to that, one’s parents’ education, as well as one’s own education, hard work and ambition play a slightly less significant role (which is decreasing year after year) in Russia. This means that, as time passes, more Russian people are becoming convinced that a person’s personal efforts and goals are not a key factor in achieving life success and high status positions in Russian society. Statistical verification indicates that these views are objectively justified, since, according to the former, upper strata of Russian society are becoming increasingly more closed, with lower strata starting to close as well. High indexes of self-reproduction of opposing status groups within mass layers of the population, together with an increasing polarization of the population (primarily young people) – these are all dangerous tendencies in terms of their socio-political and economic consequences, which lead to authorities being delegitimized, as well as Russian people losing their motivation to achieve success in life through their own efforts.

Keywords

social structure, subjective stratification, status, status hierarchy, inequality, public consciousness, public opinion

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