Vol 24, No 3 (2022): Internet and Politics


Theorizing Digital Politics in Russian and Foreign Studies: Introducing the Issue

Volodenkov S.V.


The guest editor of this issue, Sergey Volodenkov, is a recognized expert in digital political communications, manipulation and propaganda technologies in modern informational confrontations, public consciousness management, problems of national information security and hybrid wars. His editorial article presents this thematic issue dedicated to the phenomenon of digitalization of political processes and digital politics in general. The purpose of the issue is to demonstrate the achievements of Russian political scientists who develop their original approaches and work in collaboration with foreign academics in political communication studies and demonstrate the lines of the most rigorous research.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):339-350
pages 339-350 views


Contemporary State in the Context of Digital Technological Transformations: Political Opportunities, Risks, and Challenges

Volodenkov S.V., Fedorchenko S.N., Artamonova Y.D.


Modern state faces the need to adapt to the changing external environment, which is characterized by intensive digital technological transformations. Thus, it is important to determine how contemporary state and its power institutions adapt to digital technological transformations and identify the key risks, threats, and challenges associated with such adaptation. To do so, the authors of the article conducted a corresponding international expert study, which allowed them to determine the degree of digital technological transformations’ influence on the functioning of traditional states and their power institutions. Also, based on the integration of expert assessments, the authors identified the essential characteristics of digital technological transformations’ effect on contemporary institutions of state power. The study results concluded that the digitalization of contemporary states and their adaptation to current technological transformations is a complex and largely ambiguous set of processes. These include both political opportunities and the associated risks, threats, and challenges for both the state and its institutions, as well as directly for the civil society, which is rapidly increasing its complexity and diversity through intensive digitalization. This brings to a wide range of scenarios for forming state and political management models in the context of a rapidly emerging digital technological reality of a new type. The article proves that the adaptation of the traditional state as a management system to the technologically more complex environment is necessary to ensure the effective viability of both the state itself and its institutions.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):351-366
pages 351-366 views

“Digital Leviathan”: Scenarios for the Development of the Hobbesian Monster in the 21st Century

Mamychev A.Y.


In the research, the Hobbesian concept of “Leviathan” is used as a metaphor and a “heuristic scheme” describing the change of epochs and the formation of a new universal scale for innovative forms of socio-political organization. The subject of the research is the phenomenon of digitalization, as well as key changes caused by the digital transformation of public policy and power relations. “Digitalization” is considered as an ambiguous and multilevel phenomenon, reflecting a whole series of cardinal transformations in the sociopolitical life of society, which at the ideological, institutional, instrumental, technological and praxiological levels “clears space” for new forms of social organization. Аrgues that currently there is an acute competition to define, legitimize and promote a certain “projective image of the future” corresponding to the latest socio-political order and normative sociotechnological system (“engineering law”). In particular, the author considers contradictory trends, on the one hand, aimed at preserving and reproducing traditional political institutions, and on the other, related to forming new digital era institutions, digital governance structures and practices of public-power interactions. The research pays special attention to the competition of the state and new digital and technological actors in the political space. It discusses various scenarios of digital transformation of society, state, and government and considers such digital effects in the modern political process as “information noise”, “information overload”, “profile reconfigurations” of relations, the formation of alternative digital spaces (metaverses), as well as their influence on the current political order, power relations, socio-political dynamics.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):367-392
pages 367-392 views

Crypto-Anarchism: The Ideology of Blockchain Technologies

Brekhov G.S.


One of the most modern currents of anarchism - crypto-anarchism - arose as a response to the global development of digital technologies and the Internet and operates exclusively within the framework of the “global web”. The paper attempts to study one of the most unusual branches of anarchist philosophy and its impact on the digital life and politics of several states. With the help of functional and comparative methods of political research, the author analyzes crypto-anarchism as part of the ideology of anarchism, the main goal of which is to find out how viable crypto-anarchism is as an independent movement. The article raises the question of whether the ideas of crypto-anarchism can be used to effectively address current socio-political problems. The theoretical basis of crypto-anarchism looks more and more relevant, as it affects the security of the individual on the Web and is aimed at fighting against widespread state control. Despite the fact that, as the study showed, cryptoanarchism as a movement does not have sufficient elaboration and influence on real politics, its deeper study can be useful for preparing political programs aimed at Internet users (which constitute around 62.5 % of the global population), as well as studying political models and their development paths using virtual simulations and virtual states (Liberland, Wirtland), which are characteristic of crypto-anarchism.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):393-407
pages 393-407 views

Darknet and the Political

Yakovlev M.V.


The Darknet is becoming an increasingly visible structural unit in the political sphere and at the same time remains a little-studied area of cyberspace. Therefore, the article aims to determine the conceptual prism for its consideration and its actual significance in the measurement of the political. With the help of comparative historical analysis, the study reveals the causes and time of the political birth of the Darknet, characterizes its resources and political role through system and content analysis, systematizes and clarifies the concepts of power and politics in the Network based on the provisions of R. Gel, M. Castels, K. Schmitt, etc. The author names the expansion of states (especially autocracies) in the digital space as the main factor in the politicization and transformation of the Darknet. The pressure of power and dominance systems aimed at maintaining sovereignty and control in cyberspace caused “digital resistance” of programmers and users seeking free data exchange and confidentiality, as well as civil activists who strived to avoid prosecution for dissent, which led to the renewed architecture and functionality of the Darknet, its transformation into an alternative space of informational interaction and a database to build up the opposition potential. Criminals also took advantage of the opportunities of the new network for their own purposes. The main result of the research is the thesis that the Darknet is being transformed into a special socio-technical system that is outside the sphere of international and state law, where all interactions are carried out exclusively through private agreements between clients, with an alternative world payment system based on cryptocurrencies.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):408-418
pages 408-418 views

Digital Political Communication in Russia: Values of Humanism vs. Technocratic Approach

Bykov I.A., Kurushkin S.V.


The massive spread of digital technologies has led to the transformation of practices related to communication and, in particular, political communication. The development of digital technologies in political communication results in the emergence of new participants, who can be called network actors, the perception of which by various social groups is transformed under the influence of the values shared by the communication parties. The research discusses the current state of the communications theory in the light of the digitalizing media space and the transforming humanistic values. The authors suggest applying the ideas of post-humanistic philosophy to the analysis of the problems and prospects of political communication in the context of digitalization. The purpose of the research is to study the specific features of political communication in a digital society based on an anthropocentric approach and in the context of opposing modern humanistic values to the ideas of technocratic control and management. The empirical basis of the study includes the results of two focus groups (students and senior citizens) held in St. Petersburg in the spring of 2022, where participants discussed the problems of communication between people and chatbots. It was found that although young people in general interacted more actively with chatbots, both age groups showed a favorable attitude towards chatbots and technological progress. However, in the senior age group, humanistic values manifested themselves more explicitly (the problem of a “live voice”, issues related to the emotional component of communication, and even concern for jobs that people might lose). The authors conclude about the insufficiency of the technocratic approach and the need to take into account the values of modern humanism in implementing new forms of communication with network actors.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):419-432
pages 419-432 views

From Distrust to Legitimization: The Difficult Path of Digital Electoral Technologies, an Evidence from Russia

Baranov N.A.


There are numerous issues surrounding digital technologies in elections: from ensuring the secrecy of voting to controlling the process of vote counting. The technology of the electoral blockchain, according to experts, does not solve the problem of achieving transparency and anonymity of online voting, therefore, existing technologies do not yet allow us to guarantee the indisputability of elections and avoid manipulation. At the same time, the advantages and opportunities brought by digital technologies are so obvious that, despite the existing problems, they are increasingly being used in elections. The author uses the comparative, normative and functional methods to analyze the usage of digital technologies in the electoral process, emphasizing the practice of electronic voting and remote electronic voting in the Russian Federation. The use of digital technologies, according to the author, entails legal, psychological and technical problems. However, the author concludes that it is possible to legitimize the use of digital technologies in elections if voters recognize the advantages of remote electronic voting and other digital innovations in the electoral process, and provided technological problems are solved.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):433-446
pages 433-446 views

The Phenomenon of “Digital Trust” in the Context of Digital Government in Russia

Chepelyuk S.G.


In recent years new digital technologies have become an integral part of daily life of civilians, including their interaction with government. Trust in innovation in the government sector became the most important feature of the relations between government and civilians. The main purpose of this research is to explore how the factor of civil trust influences the implementation of digital technologies in government. We studied new phenomenon - “digital trust” and made content analysis of the main programmatic and analytical documents on the realization of the digital government concept. Based on the research results, we described the impact of the trust on the digital government effectiveness, and defined the basic principles of trust building, such as openness of the digital government system for citizens, security and reliability of electronic services, two-way communication with citizens. However, Russia lacks a clear strategy on how to build “digital trust” to government services. This circumstance could become a barrier for government’s digitalization in the future.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):447-459
pages 447-459 views

Digital Nomads and Migration Processes in the Russian IT: A Political Analysis

Taisheva V.V.


IT industry is one of the top priority areas for economic development not only in Russia, but also in other countries worldwide. The Russian government is pursuing a policy to promote the development of information technology in the country and support specialists in this field. The IT sphere is one of the most attractive among applicants, and the IT market volume shows stable growth. However, in the context of tightening Western sanctions and the aggravation of the political situation in February-March 2022, the Russian IT industry faced a massive outflow of qualified specialists from Russia. And although the problem of personnel shortage (including due to migration) has existed in Russia for a long time, the volume of the migration flow of IT specialists over the specified period was significant for the domestic IT industry. The author attempts to identify the reasons for the migration of IT specialists, considering various push and pull factors that exist in the context of the Russian IT market. To achieve this goal, the author conducted a semi-structured survey among representatives of the IT sector, including professionals who have already moved or are planning to move in the near future, as well as those who have decided to stay in Russia. Based on the results of the study, some particular and general factors for the migration of IT specialists were identified. In addition, the article gives the proposals of the interviewed specialists regarding state support for the IT industry.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):460-479
pages 460-479 views


Affective Political Polarization and Hate Speech: Made for Each Other?

Stukal D.K., Akhremenko A.S., Petrov A.P.


Abundant academic research has shown evidence of the growing polarization across the globe both in general and in terms of affective polarization. Previous research on this topic primarily employed reactive research methods like surveys or experiments, which however do not allow researchers to observe the behavior of the units of analysis in a natural setting. Presents an alternative approach that involves analyzing the observed behavior of social media users and identifying the key polarizing cleavages through the study of hate speech with respect to distinct target groups. We present a novel coding schema for textual data, which includes two components: first, an operationalized definition of hate speech as a phenomenon with at least one of the three elements - insult, discrimination, or aggression; and second, an original coding guide for human coders annotating the use of hate speech. We apply our approach to the analysis of empirical data that includes over 5000 posts on the social media platform VK about the meetings between the Presidents of Russia and Belarus in 2020-2021. After coding the collected data, we performed the empirical analysis that identified two generic cleavages. One is about domestic politics in Belarus and Russia, whereas the other is related to the opposition between these two countries on the one hand, and Western countries on the other. We also found an additional Russian/Belarusian cleavage that is peculiar to the collected dataset. Our methodology also allowed us to identify and analyze the dynamics of macro-groups that were targets of hate speech. Importantly, these results - as any other dynamic aspect of analysis - would be highly challenging in research based on reactive methods. Thereby our results highlight the prospects of applying the proposed methodology to a broad range of textual data, as well as the benefits of exploratory analysis that helps overcome the limitations of survey instruments.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):480-498
pages 480-498 views

Digital Echo Chambers as Phenomenon of Political Space

Beznosov M.A., Golikov A.S.


This article attempts to provide a comprehensive overview of the academic literature on the subject, examining the different approaches, their similarities and general differences, advantages and disadvantages, and providing a consolidated and critical perspective that will hopefully be useful for future research in the field. The paper presents the results of a systematic review of Western academic studies on the existence of echo chambers in social media, an initial classification of the literature and the identification of research patterns. The authors show how conceptual and methodological choices influence research findings on the topic. Future research should take into account the potential shortcomings of different approaches and the significant potential of linking data.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):499-516
pages 499-516 views

Political Implications of Hate Speech Digitalization in a Post-Truth Era: Impact on Emotional Regimes in Digital Conflicts

Kolotaev Y.Y.


The digitalization of public life modifies old phenomena. Some of these changes prove to be detrimental to certain public spheres, including politics. Digital hate speech is one of the most obvious examples of digitalization’s impact on political processes. The manifestation of hatred online became an urgent challenge to political systems globally. In this respect, a theoretical and practical elaboration is necessary to counter the new threat. This study aims to identify the social mechanisms that make hate speech an instrument in information campaigns. The article illustrates the discursive and emotional aspects of the public manifestation of hatred. The theoretical basis of this work is the theory of “emotional regimes” and the concept of “regimes of truth”, which express the mutual influence of subjectivity and public discourse. Comparing the theoretical framework with the practical aspects of hate speech demonstrates that digital platforms and social networks form an environment that accelerates and facilitates the dissemination of hatred in the public space. As a result, various forms of hatred are accepted as a new social norm, which leads to such phenomena as harassment, humiliation, or even physical persecution. The modern technical reality allows to instrumentalize hate speech for manipulation, which results in three main scenarios for social impact: 1) large impact with low personalization; 2) targeted impact with high personalization; 3) broad and decentralized targeted impact using artificial intelligence. While countering each of these scenarios, a key challenge is to combine long-term and specialized measures.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):517-529
pages 517-529 views

The “Moscow Case” as a Factor of Protest Communication Activity in the Social Network “VK”

Philippov I.B.


This paper addresses the impact of negative juridical sanctions implemented against the participants of the 2019 protest movement in Moscow on the communication in the social network “VK”. The empirical analysis of the mentions of protests and juridical prosecutions allowed to estimate the volume of discussions about the negative sanctions, to compare it with the discussions around the protest rallies and to outline the main factors affecting how active the discussion is on different episodes of negative sanctions. The results show that the coverage of the criminal persecution of activists provokes substantively less interest among the authors and the readers than the communication on the protest movement itself. Increased activity in comments is not observed, while the communication is concentrated in large communities. The input in the protest communication was not the same for sanctions against different activists: the impact was more notable when the media campaign in defense of the accused managed to involve persons with high media capital or a considerable number of people outside the protest movement. In the cases when the events around the accused were only relevant for other activists the surge in online communication turned out to be less noticeable. This implies that negative juridical sanctions are not a newsbreak themselves but have the potential to provoke an outburst in protest communication if the coverage is complemented by the traditional forms of political mobilization or includes opinion leaders.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):530-544
pages 530-544 views

Perception by Russian Social Media Users of Mass Protests During the Attempted Coup in Kazakhstan

Brodovskaya E.V., Parma R.V., Podrezov K.A., Davydova M.A.


The article presents the results of an applied political research on the representation of the 2022 Kazakh events in the Russian segment of social media. The context of the study stems from the significant intersection of the Russian and Kazakh segments of social media and the mutual influence of political processes. Under the political mobilization of the mass protests in Kazakhstan, which turned into an attempted coup, the activities of Russian counterelites intensified in various regions of Russia. Using a hybrid research strategy combined with cognitive mapping and social media analysis the authors managed to identify dynamic, structural and substantive characteristics of the information representation of the Kazakh events in the Russian segment of the Internet. The authors concluded that the scale of the Kazakh protests allowed to draw the short-term interest of the Russian audience, mainly from the regions bordering Kazakhstan. The use of economic triggers (rising prices, inefficient social policy, etc.) led to the involvement of the adult audience in the discussions around the Kazakh events, while a significant part of youth and young adults was excluded from information flows around the events. The study revealed that the Russian opposition attempted to use manipulative “contamination” technology in order to extrapolate the political and economic discontent in Kazakhstan to the situation in Russia. At the same time, the greatest resonance in the Russian segment of users was caused directly by the participation of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in the settlement, and not by the social and economic triggers that led to the events.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):545-561
pages 545-561 views

Living with COVID-19: Opportunities for the Usual Socio-Political Life in an Unusual Situation

Pastarmadzhieva D.D., Angelova M.N.


The COVID-19 pandemic stressed national and international systems and relations and demonstrated the vulnerability of modern societies. The governments were forced to implement restrictive measures in order to protect public health. The most challenging aspect was balancing between public health protection and the functioning of the economy. As this wasn’t easy to reach, some of the governments faced challenges in communicating with the society, resulting in protests. Under these brand-new challenges, the protests only made the task of the governments harder and threatened to harm the fragile political stability. Thus, the aim of the current study is to identify the problems related to the communication between the society and the government and to identify the possible solutions for ensuring the dialogue in such situations. The study focuses on EU citizens and their attitudes toward government measures related to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Our materials and methods include review of scientific literature on the topics under considerations. We also performed a secondary processing of quantitative data from Eurobarometer using IBM SPSS v. 26. The results show that the measures limiting civil liberties lead to social tension even if the governments adapt their approach and search for new opportunities. This leads to the conclusion that in order to ensure the normal functioning of the social systems the governments should find ways to include the stakeholders in the decision-making. The latter is possible through digital tools and by developing a system to be implemented in times of crises even if the crisis is not caused by pandemics.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):562-572
pages 562-572 views

Ideological Acceleration of Schoolchildren as an Effect of New Media: Formulating the Question

Potseluev S.P., Podshibyakina T.A., Konstantinov M.S.


The early ideological socialization of schoolchildren is manifested in their increasing involvement in political (including protest) activities. In Russia, school students’ involvement in political processes hasn’t been properly studied, despite similar studies being conducted abroad since the middle of the last century. Meanwhile, in the information age, the students’ political participation should be considered in close connection with the younger generation’s digital socialization carried out in online communities and social networks. In this regard, the purpose of this article is to raise the question of the methodology for studying what until recently seemed insignificant in the minds of schoolchildren: fully formed ideological attitudes influenced by the ideological language of new media. To solve this methodological problem, we need to clarify the concepts of political and ideological socialization projected on the school; formulate the problem of ideological acceleration of schoolchildren; methodologically substantiate the concept of ideological socialization and describe the environment of new media as the main “accelerator” of the schoolchildren’s ideological socialization. The authors note the need for a political study of the issue, using the achievements of interdisciplinary research in the fields of linguistics, cognitive science and ideologies. They propose an approach based on the theory of metaphorical framing (J. Lakoff) and the authors’ concept of cognitive ideological matrices. The authors emphasize that new media act as an intermediary in the formation of cognitiveideological matrices in the individual and group consciousness of schoolchildren, as well as a catalyst for earlier ideological socialization.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):573-585
pages 573-585 views

“How to March at the Computer”: The Role of Digitalization in the Activities of the Regional Patriotic Organizations of Siberian Federal District

Kazantsev D.A., Kachusov D.A., Shashkova Y.Y.


In Russia, the government’s demand for the patriotic education of young people is constantly growing. However, the content of the programs, their implementation strategies and the prospects for introducing digital technologies into the activities of patriotic youth NGOs remain vague. Based on the analysis of online resources, including the organizations’ social media accounts, the authors conclude that informative content prevails. In addition, they distinguish 4 clusters of non-commercial organizations: Yunarmiyan (Young Army Cadets National Movement), military-athletic, historical and civic, with 60 000 members in total. With the help of TargetHunter parser, the study analyzes social media posts, paying attention to their content and format, the number of posts, likes, comments, viewers and followers. The authors conclude that the level of online involvement has risen as the amount of news traditionally increases in the first quarter of each year, as well as due to the adaptation to the conditions set by the pandemic. The digitalization of patriotic education is complicated and diverse because of the specifics of patriotic organizations, as patriotic content is second to entertainment and educational content on the web.

RUDN Journal of Political Science. 2022;24(3):586-604
pages 586-604 views

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