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Way of Life in the Process of Radical Social Change

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 13-12-2011
Мир России. 2011.  Т. 20. № 3. С. 71-94. 
Тематический раздел:
The last decades of the modern Russian history can be referred to as the age of radical transformations, which have radically changed the foundation of social, economic and political organization of Russian society. The article is an attempt to analyze these changes and answer the following questions: how have these radical changes affected the everyday life of Russians? What are the tendencies in their changing mass consciousness and social behavior? What is its social character and how does it affect the civilization course? The main methodological instrument for the research is a strategy of comparative study of a single process (way of life) based on a single method and two different samples, which represent Russian population during two alternative social and political systems: the Soviet one and the one of today. The results of comparison show that there has happened a radical decrease in social, moral and working potential of Russian people in the last quarter of a century. It can be described as an inversion of everyday behavior standards and related instrumental values. The author suggests that the innovations which occurred in everyday practices and social perceptions of people are generally regarded as negative. They bring a handful of economic and moral losses to the Russian society, rather than act as positive tendencies in coping with existing economic problems. The labour is regarded in terms of purely instrumental values (i.e. more people regard their work, first of all, as a means of earning money to sustain their lives). Positive motivation to work is very rare among contemporary Russians and it has been steadily reducing during the last quarter of a century. The people are also getting more afraid to lose their jobs and get socially excluded, which leads to a state of forced employment in all sectors of economy. Besides, although the satisfaction of people with their jobs is rather high, there is also an evident tendency towards its decrease. Egocentrism is also becoming a common phenomenon in the everyday life. Highly threatening is the sharp rise of the ethnic non-tolerance, alcoholism, while most healthy processes, which accompany any civilized form of societal development (mutual support, responsiveness, respect, etc.), are gradually fading away. All of this shapes a very hazardous social environment. Similar, but more apparent tendencies can be revealed through the analysis of change in instrumental values. As for the terminal values, their nucleus (family and work) is more or less stable and invariant to the fundamental societal transformation. However, today it features a ‘confidence in future’ as a most important un-realized value in contemporary Russia. The break in the axiological nucleus of a Soviet way of life gave rise to an antinomical structure of mass consciousness, which is, in turn, a reflection of social and economic reality created by the wild Russian capitalism. At the same time there is an apparent movement towards a social (or even a civilizational one, on a wider scope) pathology: the weakening of rational ethic principles and the dominance of egocentrism (a non-ethical individualism); the actualization and production of numerous social risks (psychological illbeing, anomies, deviant and self-destructive behavior). This is a cumulative result of interrelated factors: a cardinal change in relation of property and sociopolitical organization, and another peculiar phenomenon – an invasion of alien norms and values into the Russian culture. The energy of this social decay can only be kept at bay via socially democratic regulation – a skilful combination of different norms and values with the domination of those which sustain the development of a free personality, efficient economy and a healthy civil society.
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