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Social stratification in contemporary Russia: split society drama

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 31-12-2010
Мир России. 2004.  Т. 13. № 1. С. 3-48. 
Тематический раздел:
The basis of our approach to the problem of social inequality in post-Soviet society is the conception, according to which the social order of contemporary Russia is viewed as the direct continuation of the etacratic system, which existed in the USSR; this system was based on the “power-property” relationships, social differentiation had a non-class character, and was determined by ranks in power hierarchy. In contrast to the majority of Eastern European countries there was no radical turn towards competitive private-property economy in Russia. The conjoint relationships “power-property”, peculiar to etacratic society, obtained private-property covering, but essentially they remained unchanged. Thus in post-Soviet Russia etacratism was preserved in a transformed form, it obtained the form of state-monopolistic corporative (nomenclature and bureaucratic) quasi-capitalism, but not that of democratic, socially oriented capitalism, as for example in Czech, Poland, Slovenia, Estonia. In this social and economic system there was formed a peculiar type of social stratification, consisting in interlacing of class hierarchy and elements of class differentiation; this type of social stratification has been steadily reproduced over the last years. In the Soviet society it was only administrative and command nomenclature which had deliberate interests and possessed all the features of social stratum, including self-identification. In the course of reforms administrative and command nomenclature, the only social group of the Soviet society which possessed deliberate interests and self-identification, retained control positions in the authority, secured the predominant part of state property for itself during the process of privatization, and transformed into upper quasi-bourgeoisie. All the attempts of conducting non-nomenclature privatization, not controlled by politically powerful groups, were frustrated. The relationships of incomplete privatization, opacity of property relations were conserved to the advantage of policy forming business. Medium-scale and small-scale business was forced out to the periphery of economy, where it stagnated from the 90-es to the beginning of the 2000-es. In the course of these changes the social groups which existed earlier are being transformed. The transition to market economy seems to have put an end to a historical phenomenon of Russian reality of the second half of the XIX-th and most of the XX-th centuries – intelligentsia; it was a special inter-strata formation, which in many respects influenced social and political life of the country, and now it vanishes, it breaks into real professionals – the core of middle strata (few in number) – and the declassed part, moving down to lower social strata. The formation of small and middle businessmen’s stratum also involves former representatives of intelligentsia. The transition from stratification of hierarchy type, where the positions of an individual and social groups were determined by their place in the structure of the state power, the level of proximity to the sources of centralized distribution, to class stratification dominant in the civilized world is not finished yet. Power relations still dominate over property relations. The orientation toward business activity or, at least, toward working in the private sector is steady, especially for the younger Russians. During the time between the survey of 1994 (January) and the survey of 2002 (November-December), there occurred changes in the society, there is a greater completeness in the style of life, features of mentality of the representatives of different social strata and so on. Nevertheless we have to state that there is incompleteness in the choice of social and economic future by the Russians. The central question, the answer to which we want to get in further discussions is the following: is there any way out from this situation, are there any social forces in the country, capable of changing the situation radically and lead Russia to the path toward market informational economy? The variety of possible scenarios of the development of Russia is predetermined by the outcome of confrontation between comprador and national capitals, and in other dimension – between Latin-American and Japanese paths of the capitalism development. This is the background for the future development of social life. Up to now the comprador capital in interaction with corrupt officials, was in power. And as long as this tendency is preserved, we are facing Latin-American, in particular Argentine way of development. But the national capital, concentrated mainly in the province, is not so weak economically. Big groups of scientific and engineering intelligentsia and highly skilled workers, who are perfectly aware of their commonness and understand that “Latin-American” way has no future, have kept their potential. They are mainly the people, who work in military and industrial establishments, in enterprises with high technologies.
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