ISSN online: 2221-1616

Bulletin of the Institute of Sociology (Vestnik instituta sotziologii)

Research Article

Galina S. Denisova Doctor of Sociology, Professor,
Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia
ORCID ID=0000-0002-3671-9602
Vitaly V. Kovalev Doctor of Sociology, Associate professor,
Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia
ORCID ID=0000-0002-8439-3117
Cossackhood in Contemporary Russia: Attaining Social Status.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2023. Vol. 14. No. 3. P. 14-36

This article uses the results of the project conducted under the Government Order of the Ministry of Education and Science "Scientific and methodological and resource support of activities aimed at implementing the Strategy of State Policy of the Russian Federation in respect of the Russian Cossacks in 2021–2030 years" № СЗ-445-00/476 dated 28.07.2022, the number of internal registration SFU GZ0706/22-05-IS.

Дата поступления статьи: 17.05.2023
Topic: Phenomenon of Cossackhood in Modern Russia

For citation:
Denisova G. S., Kovalev V. V. Cossackhood in Contemporary Russia: Attaining Social Status. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2023. Vol. 14. No. 3. P. 14-36


In contemporary Russian society, a transformation of the social structure is taking place. The formation of the Cossack social group is an important aspect of this process. The revival of this social group throughout the post-Soviet period has led to polarised interpretations, ranging from characterising Cossacks as "costumed" individuals to being bearers of Russian military cultural traditions in modern society. The significance of the social status of Cossacks is amplified in the face of modern geopolitical challenges and the Russian society's search for its own identity.

The aim of this article is to determine the foundations of Cossack group formation and the expectations that, from the Cossacks' perspective, are necessary for the preservation and strengthening of the group. The methodological framework of the study is based on the ideas of actor-network theory by B. Latour. The empirical research hypothesis posits that the process of Cossack group formation has undergone several stages, from recreating elements of folk culture to implementing the historical Cossack service function into the life of modern society with blurred boundaries between social strata. The involvement of Cossack military societies in the Special Military Operation has influenced the adaptation of cultural patterns related to the Cossack service function. The hypothesis was tested using a mass survey through questionnaire methods in thirteen Cossack military societies. The survey results show that the majority of Cossacks, including some non-registered Cossacks, support the main directions of the State Policy Strategy regarding the Cossacks. However, Cossacks' expectations from the state include the adaptation of traditional Cossack military service patterns to the conditions of modern society and the requirements of military service. The readiness of Cossacks to move in this direction is evident in the formation of voluntary Cossack units participating in the Special Military Operation. Nevertheless, this grassroots initiative of Cossack societies requires state resources as the dominant actor in the Cossack revival process. These resources include the establishment of Cossack units in accordance with the tradition of Cossack military service within the structure of the National Guard, a different approach to the education of youth in Cossack schools with a stronger military component, and the re-establishment of traditional Cossack camps for regular military training of registered Cossacks, among other things. Such service activities by registered Cossacks will also require the development of corresponding preferences and privileges for registered Cossacks.


Cossacks, revival, group formation, Latour, social status, military service, historical memory, Cossack societies

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