People of the Russian Federation


Conceptual Analysis

The participants in a round table entitled “The People Is …,” held at the editorial office of the OZ: Journal of Russian Thought on November 30, 2011, tried to define what the people is and answer a number of questions related to this theme.


Alexei Muraviev. “The People” in the European Cultural Paradigm


The article analyzes three stages and three sources of shaping the concept of “the people” in European culture: early antiquity, the heritage of the classical era, and the Biblical world. In Indo-European antiquity, a people developed from a clan via an ethnos into a socium, and thus a “social people” came into being. In the classical era, a new level of self-consciousness was achieved and a demos, a political people, evolved. The rise of classical empires once again actualized the ethnicity of a people. The Bible, seen from a religious point of view, has introduced the idea of faith and ethics as a major attribute of a “people” into the concept of “the people.” Under the third tradition, “the people” is perceived as a society of the select. The Christian tradition of Europe has synthesized these traditions, having at the same time inherited the problems of their mutual combination.


Vitaly Kurennoy. A Split and an Affect: The Concept of “the People” in the Language of the Russian Intellectuals


Based on an analysis of the discourse of contemporary Russian intellectuals from various regions of Russia (a series of in-depth interviews), the article analyzes the specific features of the usage of the concept of “the people” and offers a typology of that usage. The main point substantiated in the article is that the usage of the concept of “the people” in contemporary Russian educated discourse does not correspond to its modern political features and indicates that “the people” is not a unified political nation but rather one of the social groups. The relations between “the people” (mass lower class) and other social groups (public servants, business people and, sometimes, the intelligentsia) consistently appear to be negatively emotionally loaded.



Estates, Classes, Ranks


Natalia Zubarevich. Contemporary Russia: Geography and Arithmetic


The article examines the present-day spatial structure of Russia, the role of the largest and major cities in its social and political transformation, the problems and potential for political protest in industrial cities, and the scale of the country’s social and economic periphery.


Sergei Volkov. Towards the Question of the Social Division of Society in the Russian Federation


The article focuses on the specific features of the social division of present-day Russian society. Examined is the interrelation among the property, - owing, managerial, and occupational estate division of the population and the possible impact of these factors on its political behavior.


Simon Kordonsky, Dmitry Dekhant and Olga Molyarenko. The Estate Components of the Social Structure of Russia


The article analyzes the contemporary social structure of the Russian Federation. The social groups constituting the structure of Russian society have been very little studied. In the authors’ opinion, the social structure of present-day Russia can be described in terms introduced by the state through a series of laws on various types of services. The division of the citizens of Russia by types of services and of those serving results in the emergence of social groups/estates which shape the relations within the country’s contemporary social structure.


Oleg Leibovich, Natalia Shushkova. Professional Communities beyond the Bounds of Publicity


The article discusses the problem of expert professional communities’ which are closed  to the public. Twenty-two in-depth focus interviews taken with key experts in science and technology, business and medicine from the city of Perm in the fall of 2007 served as empirical sources for the study. The article consistently examines problems of relationships with the authorities and the public and communication within groups (themes, intensity and forms). A hypothesis is advanced according to which the public space of present-day Russia is organized by the authorities, which propose both the agenda for discussion and the language for constructing public statements.


Artem Anoshkin. What the “Middle Class” Keeps Silent About


The article, based on the findings of field surveys, describes the attitudes of Russian entrepreneurs, who tell about how they estimate the market situation, what causes their fears and anxieties, how their work with customers and competitors is organized, and what are the prospects of their business are. In the author’s opinion, the typical entrepreneur aims to operate in a quiet, non-public manner within a familiar region and a market segment he has tapped into.


Oleg Lysenko. Rural Culture Workers in the 21st Century


The author tells about discovering a unique social group whose members refer to themselves as rural culture workers. Having a special education and occupation, they stand out among the general mass of rural dwellers by a number of socio-cultural features, acting as bearers of other norms, symbols and rituals, and are a distinct and recognizable minority in the present-day village.



Grigory Pomerants. The People as an Aggregate of Free Individuals Has Not Yet Taken Shape in Russia. An Interview


In an interview to OZ: Journal of Russian Thought, Grigory Pomerants speaks about the historical destiny of the people that has given rise to the great Russian culture. Having been formed at a crossroads of various cultural and social traditions, the Russian people in an accelerated manner entered a period of modernization that was rich in revolutions, wars and other social upheavals the most dramatic among which was the enslavement of the peasant masses. As a result, the people as an aggregate of free individuals has not yet taken final shape, although the image of the Russian people as a European people has been fully outlined in Russian literature.


Simon Kordonsky, Dmitry Dekhant and Olga Molyarenko. Mythologems about the Social Hierarchy in Russia


Having rather vague notions of social structure in general and being hardly able to define their own social position, the citizens of our state nevertheless seem to “know” what groups are at the top of the social pyramid and what groups are down below, at its bottom. In the authors’ opinion, the modeling of mythologems of social hierarchy makes it possible to single out, in general form, the dual images of the social organization of the state and society that people use for explaining the existing social order.





Nikolai Rozov. Transformation of the Population into a People as a Theoretical Problem of Applied Macrosociology


The article formulates the problem: How can the people-population of Russia turn itself into a people-nation? The “population” is understood to mean an accumulation of disjoint social groups with a general low level of civil political culture, widespread sentiments of indifference towards the country’s destiny and inability to self-organize and act in concert. The “people-nation” is understood to mean a self-conscious and capable community of citizens. The problem is being addressed on a theoretical plane on the basis of logical constructs.



Tribe, Ethnic Group, Nation


Alexei Miller. The History of the Concept of Nation in Russia


The article looks at the history of the concept of natsia (nation) in Russian culture from the time of Peter the Great to World War I. Entanglements with the concepts of narod (people, folk) and narodnost’ (ethnic group) are also reviewed. The analysis is based on a broad variety of sources, including constitutional projects, political journalism and scientific discourse.


Modest Kolerov, Alexei Miller. Nation and Nationalism in Eastern Europe: Experience and Prospects


This article has given rise to a discussion between historians Alexei Miller and Modest Kolerov, in which they continue and expound on the subjects touched upon in the article.


Rustem Vakhitov. Ethnic Estates in Soviet Society


Actual Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet society, being a resource state with an estate-based structure, is qualitatively different from a modern Western-type class society. The article examines the ethnic estates of Soviet society, as exemplified by the Bashkirs in the Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, and their formal and informal rights and duties.


Leonid Blyakher. The “Faraway” Far East or, Every Remote Place Is Close to Somewhere


The article focuses on the development of one of Russia’ most remote and underpopulated regions—the Far Eastern Region. Particular emphasis is on the mechanism of interaction between the region and the metropolis and between the region and the Asian “gateway to the global world.”


Vigen Akopian. The Armenians and Armenia: When the Nation Is Wider Than the State


The Armenian people, scattered all over the world and assimilated to a certain extent, continue to keep track of the destiny of their small homeland, which appeared on the political map of the world as little as 20 years ago. Now, 100 years after the biggest wave of migration from the territory of Turkey, each of the Armenian communities—in Russia, the United States, Iran, Syria, France, and Latin American countries—has acquired a unique mentality and opportunities. The article describes how the relations between Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora, in particular, one of its most influential segments, the Russian segment, are developing today.



Mateusz Piskorski. The Present-Day Polish Problem with National Identity


In the author’s opinion, a comparison of the history of forming the Poles’ contemporary national self-consciousness with a similar process experienced by other peoples is a fallacy. The article looks at the question of whether the point about the exceptionality of Polish identity can be put forward in this case and analyzes various attempts of interpreting the essence of the ethno-cultural phenomenon referred to as “Polishness.”


Alexander Rubtsov. The Nation-State in the Postmodern Period

The nation, just as identity, is both a product of a natural historical “putting together” and, at the same time, a project. The proportions may vary —from relatively natural and spontaneous processes to identities shaped according to what is an almost custom project, the way it was in Israel or the South African Republic. Characteristic of postmodern civilization is massive  disinterest in total projects and mostly natural shaping of the environment that has lost not only the bent for the Big Style but also even the capability for clearly generating and following it. Contemporary Russia is a new country trying to preserve old structures of power and political identity in an environment absolutely unfit for it. Today the nation has split into the credulous and the angry. In the near future, it is to be put together anew. And this model should better be cut not according to the most obsolete templates, those of non-redundant project implementation, but with a full awareness of the value of what has been historically established—such as, for example, in the well-ordered and free Facebook.


The Land of OZ


Teodor Shanin. “Teodor-Who-Does-Not-Smile”


Sociologist and historian Teodor Shanin tells about his childhood and his moving into adulthood, which took place in an expanse from Wilno (now Vilnius) to Samarkand and from Paris to Palestine. This period was marked by his joining the Zionist movement and following the path of struggle for the State of Israel. The scholar tells in detail about his parents and his numerous Wilno kin and about how he, aided by a well-extended underground Jewish organization, succeeded in leaving the Soviet Union.


Andrei Bushmakov. Public Servants in Post-Reform    Russia of the Second Half of the 19th—Early 20th Centuries


The article focuses on government officials and public servants in the post-reform Russian Empire. Public servants, who formally occupied a privileged position in society, viewed themselves, and were perceived by society, as “poor” and “humiliated and insulted.” This was the case both with public servants who came from the gentry and who regarded public service as not quite an aristocratic occupation and with public servants who were commoners. Their position was determined not so much by their professionalism and competence as by the benevolence of their higher-ups, their connections and the absence of reprimands and resulted in their alienation towards their work and official activities and in various phobias and complexes.


Boris Mironov. The Russian Revolution of 1917 in the Situation of an Economic Miracle: Following a Classical Scenario?


The early 20th-century crisis of Russian society was brought about by advances in modernization: it was a crisis of growth and development. It did not lead fatally to a revolution but only created preconditions for it, which were able to be realized as a result of specific circumstances—military defeats, wartime hardships, and an uncompromising and bitter struggle for power between the opposition and the monarchy.


Olga Edelman. Red Flowers out of Black Manure”


Analyzing declassified cases of anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda examined by the USSR General Prosecutor’s Office in supervisory proceedings in the postwar period, the author of the publication arrives at the conclusion that the common people and the authorities spoke the same language. Popular anti-Soviet opinions emerged as arguments against the official ideology, were its negative reverse, yet they were part of the same system of notions and were dependent on it, just as profanity and piety can only exist within the framework of the same religious beliefs.


“On behalf of all the popular masses, we are making a strong indignant protest to you.” Archives


The article by Olga Edelman is illustrated by a selection of excerpts from the catalogue “Cases of Anti-Soviet Agitation and Propaganda Supervised by the USSR General Prosecutor’s Office”


Olga Smolyak. Soviet Pilferers


The article features the problem of conventionalism in the Soviet system. The author arrives at the conclusion that the specific features of organizing propaganda work and exercising disciplinary control over the personnel of industrial enterprises demonstrate the authorities’ weak interest in eradicating pilfering. Factory management disinterest in combating pilfering is explained by the role of informal practices in organizing the work process: unspoken permissions to use a factory’s resources for personal advantage were the authorities’ resource for providing additional incentives to workers.


Alexander Chashchukhin. “I Am Forced to Defend Myself by the Methods That Come My Way


The article focuses on the methods used by the authorities to turn the citizens into silent minorities in Stalin’s period. One of them was the practice of sticking political labels on people. For explaining this phenomenon, the concept of stigma—a concept used to denote the ascribing to a person of traits that put him into a “shameful,” discriminated position—is used. By the end of Stalin’s period, such usage of political vocabulary became a tradition. In the postwar days, the legion of “Trotskyites,” “kulaks” and “saboteurs” was supplemented with new characters—“traitor peoples,” “cosmopolites” and “Banderovites” [followers of the 1940s Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera].






Alexander Voronovich. Bolshevism and the Nationalities Question: From Theory to Practice (Terry Martin. Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union)


The review of Terry Martin’s book describes the Bolsheviks’ innovative approach to resolving the nationalities question. Faced with the legacy of the Romanov empire and the need to build socialism in a polycultural space, the Bolsheviks set up an “affirmative action” empire, the first one in history. The policy of korenizatsiia (indigenization) envisaged a privileged position for minorities as compared with the “state-bearing” people, the Russians. The review examines the considerations that determined the main lines of korenizatsiia, as well as the factors that conduced to scaling back the program in the mid-1930s.


Yelena Penskaya. “Egoist of the Idea”

(A.V. Sukhovo-Kobylin: Pro et Contra. An anthology)


The review of the book A.V. Sukhovo-Kobylin: Pro et Contra, published in the Russky Put’ (Russian Way) series (Russian Christian Humanitarian Academy Press), tells the readers about the life and creative work of Alexander Sukhovo-Kobylin (1817-1903), whose name has been undeservedly forgotten by the posterity. While trying to answer the question of why the works of this writer were little known to the reading public, the author at the same time analyzes the causes of the revival of interest in him. The review also touches upon the situation with today’s humanitarian thought, which is characterized by the absence of scholarly schools, the unsorted state and inaccessibility of archives, the lack of the culture of writing commentaries, and other ailments.