ISSN online: 2221-1616

Bulletin of the Institute of Sociology (Vestnik instituta sotziologii)

Research Article

Galina S. Shirokalova Doctor of Sociology, Professor,
Moscow State Pedagogical University, Moscow, Russia; Privolzhsky branch of FCTAS RAS, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
ORCID ID=0000-0003-4089-5446
Small Cities: Results of The Struggle Between Two Positions.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2023. Vol. 14. No. 4. P. 234-250

The research was supported by RSF, grant No. 23-18-00288,

Дата поступления статьи: 30.07.2023
Topic: Regions of the Russian Federation: growing points and disproportions of development

For citation:
Shirokalova G. S. Small Cities: Results of The Struggle Between Two Positions. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2023. Vol. 14. No. 4. P. 234-250


The destruction of the USSR led to the deindustrialization of Russia, particularly in small cities, including the closure of agro-industrial enterprises closely connected with the disrupted agricultural sector. The reduction/alteration of the labour market in small towns and rural areas caused population outflow, fundamentally distinguishing contemporary mass migration. The scale of moving to gas and oil production areas and capital cities has increased. Significant regional disparities in salaries also became a factor, even seen in the minimum wage (MROT), upon which many calculations and allowances rely. For instance, in Moscow in 2023, it stands at 24,801 rubles, while in the Yaroslavl region, it's 16,242 rubles. The formation of a "service economy" in the guise of a "servant economy" (security, cleaning, resale, catering, food delivery, tutoring, etc.), often yielding good income but not demanding specialised knowledge, is another factor propelling migration from peripheral areas.

The depopulation of Central Russia, Siberia, the North, and the Far East, coupled with the loss of food security, demanded that the government formulate plans for the country's territorial development. This article analyses two development concepts characterising the discourse within the spatial infrastructure of the country. The first relies on the economic efficiency of investments in agglomerations and the unprofitability of supporting small settlements. Its proponents' arguments were most clearly articulated by E.S. Nabiullina in 2011 when she held the position of Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation. This concept continues the traditions initiated by the "young reformers" in the 1990s: what brings quick revenue and reduces costs is considered promising.

The second concept is based on analysing the functions of small cities as elements not only of the economic infrastructure but also of the geopolitical, domestic political, geographic, and social infrastructure. The article particularly emphasises the works of scholars from related disciplines such as geography and economics, enabling a more comprehensive understanding of the role and position of small cities within the socio-economic space of the country.


small cities, spatial infrastructure of Russia, urbanisation, economy, social processes

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