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Stigmatisation as a threat to national identity (lessons for the present from the past)

Research Article

Vladimir M. Kapitsyn Doctor of Political Science, Professor,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia; INION RAS, Moscow, Russia
ORCID ID=0000-0002-9693-6844
Stigmatisation as a threat to national identity (lessons for the present from the past).
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2023. Vol. 14. No. 1. P. 45-66

The study was carried out with the financial support of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation and the Expert Institute of Social Research (EISI) within the scientific project No. 122101100029-3 "State policy for the formation of national identity and patriotism in the context of the transformation of the modern world order: a comparative analysis".

Дата поступления статьи: 10.10.2022
Topic: Transformation of Russian society in sociological retrospective

For citation:
Kapitsyn V. M. Stigmatisation as a threat to national identity (lessons for the present from the past). Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2023. Vol. 14. No. 1. P. 45-66
DOI: https://doi.org/10.19181/vis.2023.14.1.3. EDN: PQWMDB


The author explores the discourses of stigmatisation using the experience of the Soviet "perestroika", Soviet, Russian and foreign materials, documents of the CPSU, Soviet bodies, public organisations and movements, eyewitness memoirs, media testimonies, personal memories. The content and mechanisms of stigmatisation as a process and means of struggle against the USSR and Russia are revealed, external and internal components of the stigmatisation process are highlighted. The state of mass consciousness in society and the views of elites, that are opposed to the national identity of the people and the state, are considered being a result of stigmatisation. The novelty of the study lies in the consideration of the mechanism of stigmatisation, that includes the formation of negative counter-identities and the state of mass consciousness, called "self-stigmatisation". Counter-identities can accompany the social differentiation of society, the formation of various social (professional, ethnic, territorial) differences. But in the process of stigmatisation of state power, they acquire a negative character and can turn into a destructive force directed against national-state identity. Such strength, as documents and other evidence show, is achieved at the “extreme” stage of stigmatisation, when there is a “resonance” of its external and internal components, and the mass consciousness of society, the views of the elites go into a state of “self-stigmatisation”. As a result, the discourse of rejection of society's values, its historical narrative (the achievements of the people, heroes of war and labour), the achievements of the present prevails, and historical traumas, insults, abuses, and mistakes of state power come to the forefront of mass consciousness. This is how the historical experience of society generations is depreciated. For millions of people, the meaning of the concepts of “service”, “heroism”, “oath”, “duty”, “citizenship” is lost, and at the same time the national-state identity is damaged. The conglomerate of negative counter-identities, united by a temporary ideological platform justifying the victory of the discourse of "new" values, takes priority. The article considers approaches to the socio-political and political-psychological study of the "extreme" stage of stigmatisation: linguistic terms-markers of "self-stigmatisation", belittling the role of patriotism, orientation of stigma to certain spiritual and material objects (monuments of history and culture, domestic flagship enterprises, memory about the heroical deeds, labour achievements). The state of "self-stigmatisation" provides "breaks" in the national-state identity and can predetermine the victory of forces that are turning the political course into a "new" direction, that to some extent satisfies the "stigmatisers". In conclusion, the tasks of stigmatisation as a means of "hybrid war" on the modern "round" of confrontation between Russia and NATO are considered.


national-state identity, stigmatisation, self-stigmatisation, negative counter-identities, marker terms, objects of stigmatisation, patriotism, "hybrid war”

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