The Anniversary of Russian Reform: a Sociological Analysis
Опубликовано на портале: 01-03-2012
At the turn of 2012 Russia will celebrate its 20th anniversary of accepting the path of radical social change, which was thought (according to its initiators) to bring structural reorganization of the Russian economy. Having become a symbolic event in contemporary Russian history and predetermined the way and trajectory of the country’s further development, these economic reforms have affected all aspects of state and social activity. The primary faces, who initiated the reform, B. Yeltsin and E. Gaydar are now gone, however, the debate about their political heritage is still a very challenging matter to a large part of Russian population. And this debate gets especially engaging given the current highly ambivalent epoch in Russian establishment partly inheriting the policy adopted by the reformers and partly rejecting it: i.e. one part of Russian society criticizes current authorities by accusing them of giving up a heritage of the Yeltsin-Gaydar reforms, and, first of all, the principles of political democracy and economic freedom, while the other, on the contrary, is convinced that the continuity of current policy to the reforms of the 1990s is the major problem and obstacle to Russia’s development. It is obvious that many of reformers’ actions had often spontaneous character and were even forced due to a complete system crisis which has broken prior to the collapse of USSR, when there were little or no time to discuss the alternatives of step-by-step transformation. At the same time mass consciousness tends to disregard the historical context under which the reforms were implemented, or even mythologize and simplify many things. That is why it is so important to look back at the past events once again and analyze them from the point of view of present generations. It is also very important to analyze, in what way these changes have affected the everyday life of Russian citizens, their social and economic well-being, opportunities for self-actualization, the evolution of their worldviews, national self-identification, their opinions towards the role and place of the state, democratic institutions and norms in the life of society. In order to reveal and investigate, how Russians evaluate the practice of reforming economic, social and political life of their country over the last twenty years, as well as the changes that occurred in society during these years, in April 2011 the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences has launched a nation-wide sociological survey « 20 Years of Reforms through the Eyes of Russians » . The survey was based on a representative sample that covered all Russia’s territorial and economic regions including Moscow and St. Petersburg (a total of 1750 respondents aged 18+ who represent eleven social groups of the general population). We’ve also used the data from an earlier survey of 2001 « New Russia: 10 Years of Reform » . Since both surveys were carried out based on a similar sample model with similar questionnaires, it was possible to conduct a comparative analysis to track the present-day state of Russia’s mass consciousness, as well as trends in its development from as early as 10 years ago.