Vol 21, No 1 (2021)

Theory, Methodology and History of Sociological Research

From formal rationality to the digital one: Sideeffects, ambivalences, and vulnerabilities

Kravchenko S.A.


The article considers challenges for man, society and nature, which appeared under the new types of rationality and bring not only the desired achievements but also unintended consequences in the form of side-effects, ambivalences, and vulnerabilities that become more complex. Thus, formal rationality became a factor of transition from traditional societies to industrial ones, which facilitated the establishment of high standards of living, but at the same time had side-effects such as the ‘iron cage’ of bureaucratization that made social relationships impersonal and without binding values. The growing formal rationality produced more complex side-effects such as ‘legitimation crisis’, ‘colonization’ of the essential functions of people’s life-worlds, and dependence on legal and administrative bureaucracies. Formal rationality led to ambivalences: rationalization helped people to adapt to the dynamics of social life but also had irrational consequences - achievements in scientific knowledge and technologies advanced beyond moral limits. Formal rationality gave birth to ‘society of normalization’ and biopower which generated the system of total control in the form of the Panapticon spreading its influence throughout the whole society. McDonaldization as a form of modern formal rationality worsened the situation by producing globally dehumanized nothings. Digital rationality creates objective conditions for complex vulnerabilities to society and nature in the form of ‘normal accidents’ and ‘collateral damage’. The author argues that digital rationality acquires two basic types that are culturally determined: pragmatic type - hybrid rationality rooted in the principles of practical, formal, instrumental rationality and McDonaldization; substantive digital type with an emphasis on human needs and ontological safety. To minimize the vulnerabilities of the pragmatic digital rationality and to avoid the digital ‘iron cage’, the author suggests: rejection of radicalism and pragmatism in relation to digital technologies and artificial intelligence; humanistic modernization; eco-digital policy; interdisciplinary research of complex nonlinear vulnerabilities.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):7-17
pages 7-17 views

Lifestyle diseases: Health in the contemporary city

Martynenko T.S.


The article presents an overview of studies of the factors that affect health in the contemporary city. The increase in the urban population makes it necessary to analyze factors (environmental, social, etc.) and features of the urban structure in terms of their impact on the quality and standards of living. However, assessments of the city in the study of healthy lifestyle are contradictory. On the one hand, researchers emphasize the availability of medical care, effective fight against infectious diseases, and numerous attempts to transform the visual urban space. On the other hand, researchers stress the spatial inequality of the urban structure (for example, in access to health care), the spread of noncommunicable and lifestyle diseases in cities, the destruction of social ties and the problem of loneliness. Therefore, it is necessary to systematize the current research, identify the main risks of urban lifestyle, and discuss the role of social sciences in such interdisciplinary studies. The proposed typology of health research in the contemporary city is based on Yu.P. Lisitsyn’s ratio of factors that determine the level of health. Although many studies claim an integrated approach, the analysis showed that most of them present one of three approaches: the study of sanitary-hygienic features of the urban space (or its medical aspects); the study of ecology and architecture of the urban space; the study of social-psychological features of the urban lifestyle. The systematization of the main risks of the urban lifestyle allowed the author to identify the priority areas of its study. Thus, based on the features of the covid-19 pandemic in cities, the author argues that there is a need for more active participation of sociologists in the discussion of both infectious and non-communicable diseases, which should focus on social factors of their spread, course, prevention and control.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):18-35
pages 18-35 views

Pupil diameter dynamics as an indicator of the respondent’s cognitive load: Methodological experiment comparing CASI and P&PSI

Deviatko I.F., Bogdanov M.B., Lebedev D.V.


In recent years, the increase in general interest in methods for measuring cognitive load and subjectively perceived mental effort when solving various tasks and in the interpersonal communication was accompanied by an increase in the specific interest of social researchers in the multimodal assessment of the cognitive load of interviewers and respondents based on objective and subjective indicators, including paradata and webcam data, in order to control this load’s impact on the quality of survey data. The authors argue that the possibilities of relatively new approaches to measuring cognitive load with neurophysiological methods (such as the use of wearable devices for oculography - eye tracking and pupillometry - which do not disrupt the natural course of respondents and interviewers activity) are still underestimated, although they allow an accurate time linkage of measured parameters’ dynamics (primarily the size of the pupil) to the question format, mode and phase of survey completion, external influences localized in time, etc. As a rule, quantitative studies of surveys’ cognitive load and its possible impact on the quality of survey data focus on computer-assisted (CAPI) or paper-based (PAPI) interviewing, while the specificity of the cognitive load in the self-completed computerized (CASI) and paper (P&PSI) surveys was not studied. The article presents the results of the methodological experiment based on a modified version of the multimodal approach to the comparative assessment of the cognitive load of interviewers working with paper and computerized questionnaire. We expanded the range of methods for assessing cognitive load by using a wearable oculographic device (eye tracker) to measure the dynamics of pupil size when answering different survey questions. The results of the experiment confirmed the hypothesis about the approximate equivalence of the two modes of survey completion in terms of their cognitive load for younger respondents with a high level of functional computer literacy, and allowed an initial assessment of the technical and metrological capabilities and limitations of the use of pupil dynamics’ indicators, measured with a wearable oculographic device, to study the respondents’ cognitive load.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):36-49
pages 36-49 views

Contemporary society: the urgent issues and prospects for development

Justice and inequality in the household consumption in Russia and China: A comparative analysis

Kozyreva P.M., Zhu D., Nizamova A.E., Smirnov A.I.


The authors conducted a comparative analysis of the household consumption in Russia and China on the basis of the reputable empirical information sources. The article focuses on the main trends and peculiarities in how households from each country differed in terms of the structure and level of consumption under dramatic transformations associated with market reforms. Inequality in consumption in Russia and China, which can be characterized as high or excessive, largely determines the overall situation with social inequality and significantly influences the development of state social policy in various fields. As for the most differentiating items of expenditure for both countries, those are groceries, durable goods, public utility payments, cultural activities and entertainment. After noting the effect that income has on consumption, which is undeniable, though differs in nature and degree, the authors focus on other factors of this type of inequality, in particular, on the territorial, regional and settlement-specific characteristics of consumption inequality in both countries. The authors argue that in Russia, there is significant regional inequality in consumption, while in China such inequality is more settlement-specific; there are also differences in consumption inequality between urban and rural areas, which contribute to the overall situation with social inequality. In China, urban household expenditures are growing much faster than those of rural households, while in Russia the difference is not that pronounced. That said, the share of spending on groceries in the structure of expenditures is decreasing more rapidly in urban China, and compared to Russia, there is a smaller gap between urban and rural areas. At the same time in China, consumption inequality as a result of age and class differences is a much more acute issue, while in Russia, the differences caused by intensifying economic stratification seem to be a more important factor of inequality.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):50-67
pages 50-67 views

Hightech industries for an innovative economy: Expert opinions

Kliucharev G.A., Chursina A.V.


The most important aspect of the transition to the knowledge society is the interaction of science and industry. The article considers the ‘triple helix’ theory as a basis for managing the innovative economy. The interaction of science and business can provide Russia with larger incomes, especially provided the state participation in the country’s innovative economic development. The authors analyze official documents regulating the cooperation of universities, research institutions and innovative enterprises, and the features of financing this cooperation. The article is based on the databases of the monitoring research of the Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS ‘Continuous education and knowledge- intensive industries: Institutions and practices of interaction’ which was conducted with the financial support of the Russian Science Foundation. On the basis of 100 expert interviews conducted in 2017- 2019 in 12 regions of the Russian federal districts with key figures of innovation processes (chief engineers, leading designers, rectors, ministers, heads of development institutions, venture funds, technoparks and special economic zones), the authors describe the practices of interaction of scienceintensive companies with other participants of the innovative economy. In the framework of the triple helix theory, the authors consider the interaction of knowledge-intensive enterprises with higher educational institutions, the main challenges these enterprises face, investment legislation and risks of investment in scientific research. The authors argue that the state policy in this field needs a network of subjects that would ensure a dialogue between the state, science, business and education at different stages of creating and promoting innovative products. The authors also consider some issues of the development of innovation infrastructure, and possibilities of using the experience of other countries.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):68-83
pages 68-83 views

Employment precarization as a factor of wages differentiation and social wellbeing

Kuchenkova A.V.


Employment conditions (form of labor relations, social security, (un)stability of wages, informal payments, etc.) are a key factor of the social-economic differentiation in the contemporary Russian society, which determines the need to clarify the relationship between the worker’s position in the labor market and one’s earnings. There are many empirical assessments of wage losses for various types of non-standard employment (informal, temporary, part-time, casual, etc.); however, each type is just one manifestation of precarization (as non-guaranteed and unstable employment), which does not present this phenomenon in general. The author considers the relationship between precarization and wages. Based on the data of the all-Russian survey of the working population (2018), the author argues that not all but some features of precarization (lack of indefinite term employment agreement, sick leave and vacation pay) are associated with a lower salary; only a high level of precarization (three or more its features together) significantly reduces wages. Despite the fact that this relationship is partly mediated by the level of education of the employee, precarization still has an independent negative impact on wages. Groups of workers with a high and low level of precarization are heterogeneous in wages which can compensate for the disadvantages of the unstable and non-guaranteed employment situation. Thus, workers can be divided into four groups according to their employment precarization and salaries, which determine their social well-being. The ‘unstable group with wages below average’ shows the lowest level of subjective well-being and social optimism both in life in general and in assessing the labor sphere. The ‘unstable group with wages above the average’ declares a lower level of social well-being than the ‘stable group with wages below the average’, i.e., higher wages do not compensate for the negative consequences of precarious employment which worsens social well-being even provided wages ‘above the average’.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):84-96
pages 84-96 views

The student youth’s universal values and the Russian society development

Ryazantsev I.P., Podlesnaya M.A., Bogdan I.V.


In recent decades, the concept of sustainable development has become the key theoretical focus for most countries. Traditions and values play an important role in ensuring sustainable development, including the attitudes of the younger generation, especially of the student youth who plan their professional future in Russia or abroad. The student youth preferences largely determine the country's development strategy and the assessment of its human capital. In 2018, the authors conducted the second wave of the empirical study “Spiritual-moral culture of the Russian university” (first wave - in 2012) which focused on the values of students of such leading universities as the Lomonosov Moscow State University and Saint Petersburg State University, and of such regional universities as the Tyumen State University, Samara State Technical University and Sevastopol State University. The research was conducted by a mass survey of 2505 students, including an online questionnaire. The concept of traditionalist modernization was used as an explanatory model. The article presents the results of the factor analysis of students’ value orientations according to the Schwartz scale and of students’ leisure practices, and also such indicators as authority, responsibility and tolerance of students. The authors come to the conclusion about the youth’s universal values that are quite flexible in relation to both modernization and preservation of the Russian specifics, which is somewhat different from the 2012 study with a more evident commitment to traditionalism. The authors interpret this fact as a generational feature of people born in the prosperous 2000s, which proves the gradual transition of the Russian society to the universal values, a combination of different value foundations and a departure from paternalistic attitudes. The article presents the results of the comparative analysis of some priorities of metropolitan and regional universities’ students, identifies the specifics of both types of universities, which allows to stress the different degrees of values’ universalism.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):97-109
pages 97-109 views

The dynamics of video preferences of the Russian youth (on the example of YouTube)

Temnova L.V., Lapshina A.K.


Today the Internet has become an integral part of the everyday life of the younger generation, and the YouTube video hosting is one of the most visited sites among Russians aged 18 to 34. Therefore, the analysis of content, structure, and dynamics of video preferences is an important area of sociological analysis of the Russian youth’s interests on YouTube. The research aims at identification and description of the Russian youth’s interests on the basis of the analysis of their video preferences on SHAPE \* MERGEFORMAT YouTube. The authors conducted content analysis of Google’s annual reports on the most popular videos on YouTube in Russia, of the content of these videos and their comments, and the analysis of quantitative indicators (likes, dislikes and views). 26 Muscovites were questioned in the format of the semi-structured interview; and two online surveys (in 2019 and 2020) were conducted, in which 340 respondents participated. The authors identified three groups of factors to analyze the dynamics of video preferences: micro-social (social-psychological, status-role and needs factors); macro-social (institutional - social, political, economic, cultural - and environmental); random. The analysis of all types of research data on the most popular video clips allowed to describe the dynamics of the youth’s video preferences in 2008- 2020, to show the relationship of social factors with the dynamics of the youths’ YouTube preferences, and that these video preferences are largely determined by individual characteristics, because the significant events in the Russian social-cultural space have little influence on the youth’s video preferences.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):110-123
pages 110-123 views

Sociological Essays

“Transformative agency” as an object of sociological analysis: Contemporary discussions and the role of education

Sorokin P.S.


Negative trends of the global social-economic development enhanced by the covid-19 pandemic explain the theoretical and practical relevance of the study of perspectives for structural transformations and their possible sources. In education, this means the need to improve the existing models of institutional practice and to contribute to the development of ‘agency’ that would support positive transformations in all domains of social life. The scientific attention to ‘agency’ and its transformative potential in relation to ‘structures’ is still limited compared to the issues of structures’ reproduction. The so-called ‘new institutionalists’ in sociology (including primarily J.W. Meyer and his followers) provide a promising basis for new theoretical models and empirical studies of the content, factors and effects of ‘transformative agency’. Meyer’s core idea is that social structures can both suppress and support the initiative formation of new social entities and the corresponding new values and modes of action. Further research in education should refer to the concepts of ‘institutional entrepreneurship’, ‘institutional work’ and ‘expanded actorhood’, when using the proposed theoretical framework to empirically study (1) globally and nationally promoted initiatives in entrepreneurship education in universities, and (2) processes of transformation of institutional contexts in education under the continuing global pandemic with an emphasis on the proactive role of students.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):124-138
pages 124-138 views

Eurasianism and geopolitics: Social mythologemes of space

Radkevich K.V., Shabaga A.V.


The article considers the origins of Eurasianism as a Russian social doctrine that emerged as an answer to the Western geopolitical concepts, in particular of the Anglo-Saxon and German geopolitical schools. Both concepts serve to justify social institutions and associations based on the difference between the spaces of the Eastern and Western parts of Eurasia. The authors argue that geopolitics of both the Western-European and Eastern-European types is based on mythologemes which claim to be of scientific importance but are not capable of achieving this status. The article shows that both theories claim (1) the invention of an ideal timeless homeland of society on the basis of a mythological interpretation of space; (2) possession of sacred knowledge (through the sacralization of space) which is actually profane. The key difference between Western geopolitical schools (Anglo-Saxon and German) and Eurasianism is the proposed connection between space and a specific society. Geopolitics proceeds from the constant spatial opposition as a factor of social-political competition. The geopolitical assessment of reality is based on the need to attack the ‘alien’ space due to its initial, ‘natural’ hostility. The geopolitical hostility and even aggressiveness contradicts the defensive nature of Eurasianism which declares that space unites peoples with similar values; therefore, their societies should defend their ‘space of development’ from the encroachments of the Western countries. Thus, Atlanticism as a global project of the contemporary Western geopolitics fundamentally contradicts Eurasianism which does not accept hegemonism and supports the principle of a multipolar world; today, the level of conflict between these projects is not high, although there are no prospects for this conflict resolution.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):139-153
pages 139-153 views

Encyclopedias as tools of modernization: Stalinist versions of agrarian knowledge

Nikulin A.M.


The article considers directions of the agrarian modernization as presented in the four editions of the Soviet agricultural encyclopedia from the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s. On the basis of some historical examples and theoretical concepts, the author explains the scientific, ideological and political significance of encyclopedias in the formation of social knowledge and ideology; shows how during the Stalinist period, the Soviet agricultural encyclopedias passed through several successive ‘great leaps’ in the representation of agrarian knowledge under the accelerated Soviet modernization; stresses the manipulative way of managing agrarian knowledge and human capital in agriculture - on behalf of the leader and ruling party. The article describes the transition from the first Soviet encyclopedia of the 1920s, which focused on the modernization of peasant Russia, to the encyclopedia of the early 1930s, which denied the importance of the peasantry and praised the projects of large-scale industrial-agricultural production; many authors of the first peasant encyclopedia were repressed. The encyclopedia of the late 1930s reflects the fight against the authors of the previous encyclopedia of the ‘great leap’ and the purges in the name of the ideology of the planning-management approach in the further modernization of Soviet agriculture. The encyclopedia of the late 1940s - early 1950s reflects the victory of the technocratic-bureaucratic worldview and personnel approach to the agrarian sphere, which prevailed in the agriculture of the USSR until the very end of the Soviet era. The author focuses on the influence of the subjective factor (political leaders, editors-in-chief and anonymous authors) on the ideology, topics and style of encyclopedic articles. In conclusion, the author notes that the strong ideological control and volatile political situation distorted knowledge in the Soviet agrarian encyclopedias, which negatively affected the quality of rural human capital and largely predetermined the stagnation of rural development in the late USSR.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):154-168
pages 154-168 views

Three questions to start the sociological study of heroism

Trotsuk I.V., Subbotina M.V.


Despite the understandable and predictable lack of sociological interest in the issues related to heroism, the search for clear and unambiguous conceptual and empirical definitions of the hero in the contemporary society seems to be a relevant sociological task, especially under the current pandemic which made the criteria of heroism interesting for the wider public. The authors briefly outline the main aspects of the traditional scientific interpretations of heroism as presented in the social-cultural narratives worldwide, and proceed to the issues that constitute the field of the sociological studies on heroism. The first research question is not so much a single definition of the hero as types of heroes based on social representations of when and how heroes ‘reveal’ themselves in decisions and actions. The authors rely on the traditional typologies of heroes usually based on the psychological aspects of heroic thinking and behavior to suggest a sociologically relevant typology based on both literature and the Russian public opinion polls. This typology implies answers to the questions of why the society needs heroes and what makes someone a hero in the eyes of the society, and allows to better understand and to more precisely define the false/pseudo/antiheroism. The second research question is about the sources of images and understanding of heroism, which focuses on the mass media and especially cinema’s potential to represent certain social practices as heroic and to construct heroic images. The third research question is about the possibilities of the empirical sociological study of the types of heroes and their representation in the media (cinema). The authors argue that sociology should use its own methods (in a combination with techniques for studying the audience’s perception of movies) - content analysis and surveys, especially the unfinished sentences technique, and provide some examples of how this can be done, for instance, to compare the social representations of a ‘real hero’ and a ‘movie hero’ among different age groups and generations. The authors conclude with mentioning a new issue associated with heroism, which became evident under the pandemic - changes in the social representations of heroism determined by heroization of healthcare workers due to their selfless fight against the coronavirus epidemic.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):169-180
pages 169-180 views

Scientific life

Inclusive trends of urban development: Temporalspatial social practices

Zaitsev D.V., Zaitseva O.V., Yarskaya-Smirnova V.N.


The article presents the results of a review of the data of Russian and international research of social-urban development as presented at the scientific events in the Saratov region. In contemporary urbanism, there is a number of trends: temporal, of universal design, and social-cultural. The Russian urban development follows agglomeration trends that are increasingly evident in the processes of settlement, which means active development of suburban areas, changes in their landscape characteristics, cultural spaces, and mobility of citizens. The covid-19 pandemic had a complex impact on the social-urban features of cities in Russia and the world by transforming the structure and functionality of many urban locations, creating conditions for the emergence of a post-coronavirus city. The empirical data show that such a city is the most socially sensitive to negative and positive aspects of social life and to manifestations of inclusive practices that unite people. Under the low, fragmented accessibility of social, cultural and other infrastructure of cities that are designed for healthy people, there is a synchronization of urban infrastructure elements in the context of inclusion due to the social demand for a ‘coronavirus transformation’ of the architectural and urban environment in terms of social distancing. Based on the research data from different regions of Russia, the authors identify priority directions of the inclusive development of social urbanism: models of the inclusive culture of urban communities; monitoring of the city accessible environment for citizens of different age and mobility (in particular, with the ‘tracing’ and ‘walk along’ approaches); model of participatory urban planning and social expertise of the inclusiveness of the urban space; educational model of professional training in the field of social urbanism and universal design.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):181-191
pages 181-191 views


K yubileyu M.K. Gorshkova

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RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):192-193
pages 192-193 views

K yubileyu P.M. Kozyrevoy

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RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2021;21(1):194-195
pages 194-195 views

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