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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
This article presents the main results of studying the composition and scale of Russia’s middle classes, which are comprised of the working population. The study is based on an authentic methodology, which develops a multi-criterion approach to identifying social structures, based on standards and quality of living, and to revealing middle classes within their composition. Determining the potential for developing middle classes within the working population, their qualitative and quantitative identification while utilizing an array of objective and subjective characteristics – all of this was conducted based on comparing actual values with specially formulated social standards. Said standards record the normative requirements for education level, position in the field of employment, level of personal income, amount of savings, income level from primary occupation and possession of real estate, as well as the corresponding values of standards and quality of living, determined by means of subjective assessment. The study revealed that the proportion of middle classes within the structure of the working population is less than 25%. And only 2% of the working population can be identified as the core middle classes, while another 21% relate to either a broadened core or the periphery. The article reveals that potentially, if they were to attain the necessary position in the employment field and the proper level of education, a wider range of workers could comprise the middle classes. However, considering the relatively low level of material security for workers and their households, as well as inconsistencies with subjective identification markers, workers for the most part remain outside of the middle classes. The authors consider the main reasons which lead to the lower general quantitative estimates of the boundaries of middle classes. Assessed is the scale of “losses” when it comes to the potential size of the middle classes, which are linked to the specifics of workers implementing their educational potential in the workplace, to their level of material security and subjective evaluation of living standards and quality, and which identify the potential of middle classes in terms of their position in the field of employment and their level of education.
middle classes, employed population, education, position in employment, material and property security, subjective assessment, identification criteria, social standards, the potential of the middle classes
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