The problems of social mobility in today's Russia are severe. The country has been undergoing a serious social and economic transformation that has led, in particular, to the destruction of traditional mechanisms and channels of social mobility. Suffice it to recall the formerly active "school/ college/career" chain which has now broken down into its separate links. School education is being permanently reformed, higher education is being rapidly devalued, and neither of them correlates with opportunities for employment and career growth. Today, moreover, many countries and societies are faced with a crisis of social mobility. In this issue, Social Mobility, OZ will try to provide answers to a number of questions, including the question of whether it is worthwhile to look for some specifically Russian causes of this situation.
FORMULAS OF MOVEMENT
Alexander Filippov. Paradoxical Mobility
The article summarizes some of the preliminary theoretical findings of the research project Phenomena of Order in Mobile Communications carried out at the Center of Fundamental Sociology of the National Research University "Higher School of Economics." The author's main idea is that the concept of mobility in sociology is undergoing substantial changes. For many years sociologists were interested above all in vertical mobility as movement between social positions. Today there has arisen a new interest in movements in physical space. The lessening of political obstacles to travel, motorization, the emergence of electronic means of communication, the use of so-called mobile gadgets are all characteristic and familiar features of a new mobility which, however, has certain no less evident yet relatively rarely thematized consequences. The study of these consequences enables one to say that the new mobility has a paradoxical character: many things about it contradict the very concept of mobility and make it possible to take a fresh look at the present-day way of life.
Richard Robert. Declassing: A New Social Problem?
The article offers an overview of works examining declassing, a process that has in the last few years been destroying the nucleus of French society—its middle classes. The author analyzes the inability of both right-wing and left-wing politicians to find adequate approaches to the problem of social mobility. In this context, the causes of the relative success achieved by the centrists, headed by Frangois Bayrou, are brought to light.
Larisa Kosova. On Inequality and Equality
The article deals with issues of social stratification and mobility. The author reviews various forms of equality and inequality and analyzes their existence in societies of various types. The work is based on the findings of polls conducted over a period of several decades. The analysis of the findings attests both to the existence of actual inequality in Soviet society and to the reflection of this fact in mass consciousness. The article examines the specific features of mobility, Soviet style. The paths of careers and the circumstances of their realization varied in different periods of Soviet history, yet rigid bureaucratic control over vertical mobility, which eventually led to stagnation— actual cessation of the turnover of high-status groups—and subsequent collapse of the system, remained unchanged.
Tatiana Sidorina, Oksana Timchenko. Social Dependency: The Other Side of Welfare
History knows unsuccessful attempts to bring to life the dream of an ideal state which supports its citizens, helps them in complicated social situations and creates conditions for harmonious development of the individual and for his self-realization. In the 20th century, attempts to build a state of universal welfare were not abandoned. Perhaps, society has already become mature enough for it? The opinions are divided. Critics of welfare policy insist that this system promotes the culture of social dependency: a passive society devoid of motivation is wasting the state budget while unemployment and tax rates keep growing; therefore, the system is destroying itself. In the article, an attempt is made to get an idea of what the complex phenomenon of social dependency, including the economic, social and psychological aspects, actually is. Notably enough, in addition to cultural panic, articles calling social dependency a myth or justifying it from the standpoint of history ever more often appear in Western sources. Questions are also often raised whether negative connotations of social dependency are correct and why this term is so much stigmatized.
Alexei Levinson. Poor Education Is a Good Elevator
The article is an attempt of sociological interpretation of the circumstances which have developed in the system of education over the last 20 years and which are usually regarded as a consequence of corruption, distortions, dysfunction, etc. The author, on the contrary, believes that the educational system has demonstrated notable flexibility, having adapted itself to new requirements of the public and of the labor market.
Vladimir Nikolayev. Movement for the Sake of Advancement
One of the main features of social mobility in Russia is its exceedingly strong link to territoriality. The set of social positions is so different at various points of the country that an individual who was not lucky enough to be born in a major city is practically unable to realize his or her ambitions (provided he or she has them), having not moved in space. As a result, young people are washed away from villages and small towns. In a new place, however, attractive positions, as a rule, are not vacant, and so people still find themselves on the lowest rung of the social ladder. In a sense, when leaving the social lower depths, they take them along to a new place.
Nikita Kharlamov. The Space of the Mobile World
The article focuses on the interconnection between globalization and space through the idea of mobility. The idea of globalization as changes in the character of social institutions, widespread in sociology, is contrasted with a view of globalization as changes in the spatial form of social life. The sociological meaning of mobility in space is unraveled through an analysis of the concepts of Manuel Castells's network society, Zygmunt Bau-man's liquid modernity and John Urry's sociology beyond societies. Serving as the key to clarification of the role of space is Georg Simmel's sociology of space. The main conclusion of the article is that globalization does not at all lead to the disappearance of space and time. On the contrary, underlying the visible liquidity and mobility of the social world is space in the form of massive and ordered mobility infrastructures shaping any day-to-day social interactions.
Alexander Rubtsov. Power in Russia: People, Elevators, Corridors
In the early Yeltsin period, the social or, rather, cadre elevator raised ideologically committed people to the upper stories; under the present authorities, it acts more like a garbage chute moving trash upwards. That is, it raises only those who are capable of very little yet who are not simply loyal to the regime but are loyal to it zealously and ostentatiously.
Larisa Kosova. On the Importance of Words
The article features a review of the new book by Ovsei Shkaratan, Sotsiologiya NEravenstva: Teoriia i realnost [Sociology of INequality: Theory and Reality]. It is noted that the book will be of interest to various readerships. It will be interesting and useful as a textbook to students, and professionals will find in it material for discussion. The author examines a number of discussion topics, in particular, the absence of a class of problems, in tackling which the socialism/capitalism dichotomy is an efficient and effective research tool, in contemporary research practice.
Alexei Tsvetkov. A Tale of Two Cities
Some American cities live and thrive, while others die. The author asks himself a question: What determines the success or failure of a city? In part he finds the answer in the book The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti, Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Moretti notes that the process of this "Great Divergence" has an autocatalytic character, as it were: winners tend to become stronger, and losers tend to lose further ground. Growth may begin because of entirely accidental causes: a small company of innovators appears in a city, they attract others, the creative potential at that place increases, and this ensures an upsurge. Yet precisely this leads to an outflow of highly skilled people from other places, which gradually fall into decline.
Philippe Guibert, Alain Mergier. French Elevator: Descent without Ascent
OZ is publishing a section from the book Le descenseur social by the two French sociologists. Based on the findings of a poll conducted among broad strata of the population, the authors show that in today's France one should speak not about a breakdown of the social elevator but rather about gradual shaping of a mechanism working in the opposite direction, moving only downwards. What is meant here is a vicious spiral practically inevitably pushing people who have lost permanent jobs to the lower depths of society.
Wesley Young. Paper Tigers
The success that Asian Americans have achieved is usually cited as an example proving that in the United States ethnic minorities can realize the American Dream single-handedly. In his article, the author shows that in reality things are much more complicated. In the United States, panic-level racial fear, which only grows stronger in the course of time, is usually experienced in respect of descendants from Asia. As for Asians, it is very hard for them to adapt to Western norms of behavior and wipe out the standards previously instilled in them by their families back in their homeland. In order to help them cope with this and change their entire system of world perception, they are offered an adjustment course aimed at teaching them to regard themselves as socially successful people, which they do not consider themselves to be.
Sergei Makeyev, Svetlana Oksamitnaya. Social Mobility without Equalizing the Chances
The article offers the findings of a survey of the dynamics of vertical intergenerational social mobility in Ukraine in the postwar period, including the first few years of the new millennium. Use was made of the findings of polls conducted by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology within the framework of the ULMS (Ukrainian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey, 2003-2007) project. As could be expected, the postwar restoration of the economy contributed to the growth of every type of mobility, including social mobility, and the stage of stagnation that followed that period led to its reduction. It is interesting, however, that this reduction continued in the years of independence. That is, the chances of advancement to a social position higher than the one occupied by parents dropped rather than grew after the downfall of the Communist regime.
Peter Mostovoi. The Ruling Class in the Past and Future of Russia
In the author's opinion, the absence of a ruling class is the cause of most of the negative phenomena in the socio-political life of today's Russia. He criticizes the "theory of elites" which, in his opinion, does not give an understanding of the actual mechanisms of the formation of the ruling class. On the basis of his own notions of the processes ensuring the life cycle of ruling classes (emergence—reproduction—decline—disappearance) and the role in them of social elevators, the author explains the causes of the departure of the ruling classes of the Russian Empire and the USSR from the historical scene.
Mikhail Rozhansky. A "Thaw" in the Siberian Frost: An Oral History of Shock-Work Construction Projects
On the basis of biographical interviews collected in the Siberian towns of Angarsk, Bratsk, Ust-Ilimsk and a number of others, the author describes how the regime accomplished the economic tasks of developing the territories by relocating workforce and specialists to shock-work construction projects. In parallel with this, socio-political tasks were fulfilled: in this post-repression way, the most mobile social element that posed a danger for bureaucracy and for the entire system was "dumped." The article vividly depicts the euphoria of collectivism and the role this euphoria played in the personal enhancement of participants in the "great construction projects of communism."
Alexander Shpagin. The Price of Success in Soviet Cinema
Most of the Soviet films about contemporary life viewed man as a being aiming to achieve social success. However, the understanding of success was different in different periods. The most important is that different answers were given to the main question—that of whether an individualist can realize himself within Soviet space or it is only in a collective that a person can achieve success.
Nadezhda Zamyatina, Alexei Yashunsky. The North as an Area of Growth for the Provinces
Contrary to popular belief, the North remains an attractive region for Russian young people, particularly those in the provinces. Newcomers there do not feel outsiders, and it is easier for a creative-minded person to realize himself or herself and obtain a high-quality education there. Yet sooner or later Northerners return—as a rule, to their own or their parents' native places. The authors note that the inflow of former Northerners to the provinces has an extremely favorable impact on them. They bring modern life standards, world views and work ethics into the rather conservative provincial environment. They are better educated and incorporated into broad social networks.
Yuri Plyusnin. Otkhodnichestvo in Today's Russia
Based on the findings of field surveys conducted in 2010-2012, the article centers on a special type of labor migration in Russia—otk-hodnichestvo (peasants' seasonal migratory work). The author compares present-day otkhodnich-estvo with the specific features of seasonal migratory work 100 years ago. Supposedly, more than 40 percent of Russian families participate in seasonal migratory work. In particular, the article focuses on such questions as what forms does such work take today, which spheres of the country's economic life are particularly attractive for labor migrants, what specific features of the structure of consumption exist in the families of otkhodniki (peasant seasonal workers who traditionally leave the villages for temporary work in industry), and, finally, what possible social consequences otkhodnichestvo, a phenomenon which is large-scale in Russia, may have.
Darya Dimke, Irina Koryukhina. A Time-Producing Factory
Based on interviews with local residents, the authors analyze the changes that have taken place in the urban settlement of Mishelevka, Usolye District, Irkutsk Region, after the closedown of the Khaitinsk Porcelain Factory, the settlement's main employer. They arrive at the conclusion that, in addition to obvious consequences (unemployment, growth in crime rate, alcoholism, etc.), the closedown of the factory had still another, not quite trivial consequence—the loss of common time which the factory created. Together with the disappearance of common time, the settlement itself as a special life world and social community disappeared as well. It was replaced by a new way of life, the main element of which is out-of-timeness," the loss of a unified time perspective.
Anna Turchik. Sky-High Mobility
The profession of flight attendant is considered one of the most "mobile" yet, at the same time, emotionally intense and physically exhausting professions. Describing her experience of working as a flight attendant with the transnational air corporation Emirates Airlines, the author explains in her article what mobility and space are to the company's flight attendants and how the mobile character of their occupation modifies their "spatial" consciousness. The article is based on the author's interviews with her colleagues, flight attendants, and on her own observations.
CONTINUING THE TALK: EDUCATION
Rustem Vakhitov. State-Serving Russian Universities
The article focuses on the specific features of the Russian system of higher education. The author shows that Russian higher education establishments have been fundamentally different from the classical Western type of higher education institutions (e.g., Humboldt's research university) at all the stages of its historical existence (before the revolution, in Soviet times, and today). The specific features of Russian higher education are related to those of the economic and political system characteristic of Russian civilization—the non-market "dispensing economy" (Olga Bessonova). Russian higher education establishments were instituted for serving the dispensing economy (for the training of specialists to be "dispensed" among the branches of the national economy) and are themselves functioning in accordance with the principles of the dispensing economy (in this case, teachers' knowledge and abilities are not their private property and commodity but a resource "dispensed" among the students by the state).
Vasily Kostyrko. Field of Battle for The Imperial Legacy
The book Modernization of the Russian Educational Space: From Stolypin to Stalin by Tamara Krasovitskaya explores attempts to modernize religious and national education in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union in the first third of the 20th century. The author traces the processes at the level of national elites, on the one hand, and the top echelons of Russian power, on the other. In the monograph, reforms of education become a kind of a mirror. On the one hand, they reflect the striving of the peoples of Russia for the benefits of world civilization and cultural autonomy and, on the other, the efforts of the central administrative apparatus to preserve the state as far as possible in an unaltered form. The system of unstable equilibrium of centrifugal and centripetal forces described by Krasovitskaya to an extent still exists in Russia today.
THE LAND OF OZ
Andrei Portnov. How Russia Recognized "Its Own"
The divisions of Rzeczpospolita in the late 18th century not only substantially changed the political map of Europe but they also faced both Russian and Polish thought with the question of identification of the "newly acquired" or "newly lost" territories. The initial consensus of the Russian and Polish elites concerning the local population, understandable in the categories of the late Enlightenment, was very soon replaced by a fierce ideological dispute in the spirit of Romanticism about the "national character" and national identity of the Orthodox population of the western provinces of the Russian Empire. The arguments advanced on both sides of the dispute were successfully made use of by the Ukrainian national movement, which from the mid-19th century turned from an object into a major subject of the territorial and national dispute and challenged both the Russian and Polish narratives about the frontier.
Alyona Yelisova. "...And Everyone Was Thinking and Dreaming of Something All His Own..."
Alyona Yelisova, a 10th year student at Gymnasium No. 20 in the city of Saransk, became the winner of the 13th All-Russia competition of historical research papers by senior high school students "Man in History: Russia, 20th Century," staged by the International Society "Memorial." In her essay, the student tells about what her family went through during the war of 1941-45 and tries to give an answer to the question, why the new generation needs a memory of the events of that period. The paper is based on the recollections of her neighbors, children and grandchildren of war veterans living in the villages of Tatarstan and Mordovia.