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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The paper looks at the permissible thresholds of social inequalities and suggests a new social policy model, which joins free market forces together with a social compromise that accounts for the specific Russian cultural mindset, daily lifestyle, and social attitudes. The issue of social inequalities is highly relevant for countries with a well-developed, socially oriented market economy. It has special, priority connotations and meaning in post-Soviet Russia, where the market environment emerged against the background of a profound economic crisis, soaring unemployment, and escalating costs of living, further exacerbated by months-long wage and social transfer delays, which prompted the pauperization processes, expanded the living quality gaps between members of various social groups and strata, and stunted consumption. In such conditions, deprived population groups stop identifying with their nation’s government and other authorities: civic solidarity, which is a fundamental cornerstone of the nation’s society as a community deeply involved in common goals and public policy, becomes weakened, if not destroyed altogether. It becomes harder to unite the community even for resolving the issues that are supposed to be every citizen’s concern. The dire consequences of social inequality overlap with the rapid transformations of Russian society, already divided as it is by a whole range of ideological and social conflicts. The latest studies indicate that, while the economy is fairly favorable, Russians are becoming increasingly unsatisfied with the situation in the country. This means that most of the country’s society is no longer satisfied with the current economic model, which provides for stability without guaranteeing development or converting economic growth into a higher quality of living for most Russians. To escape this, Russia could look into developing a social partnership system and corporate accountability tools, as well as into building a social policy that would correspond properly to the current realia and the actual lifestyle of individual Russian citizens and entire social groups represented in Russia today. This policy should be founded on the specific features of the Russian national mindset and on a clear understanding of the way Russians, as the principal social development actors, live their daily lives and perceive themselves in society.
social inequality, social policy, human capital, social capital, social networks, social justice.
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