Vol 15, No 4 (2015)


Comparative analysis as a basic research orientation: Key methodological problems

Narbut N.P., Trotsuk I.V.


To date, the Sociological Laboratory of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia has accumulated a vast experience in the field of cross-cultural studies reflected in the publications based on the results of mass surveys conducted in Moscow, Maikop, Beijing, Guangzhou, Prague, Belgrade, and Pristina. However, these publications mainly focus on the comparisons of the empirical data rather than methodological and technical issues, that is why the aim of this article is to identify key problems of the comparative analysis in cross-cultural studies that become evident only if you conduct an empirical research yourself - from the first step of setting the problem and approving it by all the sides (countries) involved to the last step of interpreting and comparing the data obtained. The authors are sure that no sociologist would ever doubt the necessity and importance of comparative analysis in the broadest sense of the word, but at the same time very few are ready to discuss its key methodological challenges and prefer to ignore them completely. We summarize problems of the comparative analysis in sociology as follows: (1) applying research techniques to the sample in another country - both in translating and adapting them to different social realities and worldview (in particular, the problematic status of standardization and qualitative approach); (2) choosing “right” respondents to question and relevant cases (cultures) to study; (3) designing the research scheme, i.e. justifying the sequence of steps (what should go first - methodology or techniques); (4) accepting the procedures that are correct within one country for cross-cultural work (whether or not that is an appropriate choice).

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):7-19
pages 7-19 views

In search for identity in the contemporary society: Discontinuity, post-traditionalism, and individualism

Mamedov A.K., Yakushina O.I.


The article considers one of the most complex social problems - the formation of identity under the contemporary “new individualism”. Global transformations in the nature of social interactions are deeply inscribed in the ‘Self’, which requires significant self-restructuring of individual lives. Postmodern realities have radically changed the established concepts of identity for individuals today possess a wider range of possibilities to determine one’s identity than before. The contemporary reality is fluid, fast-moving and flexible, thus, it is no longer possible to believe in an unchanging and stable identities - they are considered to be multiple, and increasingly fragile and fragmented, to come not from the single source, but to be (re)constructed from a variety of overlapping and sometimes contradictory discourses, practices and positions. In the XXI century, the constant desire to upgrade oneself inevitably becomes a fundamental trend of the contemporary life, that is why, in the situation of the recognized absence of any sustainable worldview, identity must be highly adaptive: everything that previously was immutable becomes short-living and temporary; social patterns, standards, and models continue to change or completely escape from individuals - we all witness the “eternal” process of self-discovery in the new “shimmering reality”.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):20-30
pages 20-30 views

Sociological analysis of television’s functions and impact

Temnova L.V., Solntseva S.A.


The article analyzes the current state of the television’s functions and effects under the social changes caused by the intensive development of information and communication technologies that determines the emergence of a new information society, which is characterized by the transformation of intangible resources, i.e. information, into economic and political resources of society. The system-forming potential of the rapidly developing information and communication sector manifests in the formation of the network structure of social communications, its distribution all over the socio-cultural field, promotion of the horizontal communication model in all spheres of social life, and the growing role of virtuality, interactivity and individualization. The authors conducted sociological analysis of the television’s functions and impact based on the current changes in social structures and classical and modern sociological concepts, and show that the adaptation of the social field of television can be explained by openness of the system, its involvement in social processes of higher order, and its own regulating mechanisms. The television possesses a number of significant features that allow to describe and study it as a social field: a complex communication and production system with specific functions, activities and organizational structure; a system of audio-visual, linguistic and metalinguistic communication; a form of knowledge embodied in the production and accumulation of symbolic material; a complex system of social practices.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):31-43
pages 31-43 views

Vignette method in sociological research: Methodological principles and techniques

Puzanova Z.V., Tertyshnikova A.G.


The article considers prospects for the new sociological method - vignette method - based mainly on foreign studies that developed, applied and summarized the results of the method application. The authors trace the history of the method in the Western and Russian traditions focusing on the topics of research in different fields, including sensitive issues. The theoretical part of the article is illustrated by the examples of vignettes introduced by different authors, in which the specifics of vignettes design and usage in sociological studies is shown. From the perspective of the analysis of meanings, beliefs, and explanatory schemes the authors demonstrate similarities of the method of vignettes and ethnographic interviews; underline advantages and disadvantages of the method as well as its restrictions; provide the key principles for vignettes design in different types of studies. The article considers two strategies of analysis of vignettes data - qualitative and quantitative - and emphasizes the importance of combinatorial-logic techniques, in particular DSM-method, within quantitative strategy and the principle of ‘deepening’ - within qualitative strategy. The authors provide examples of vignettes developed in their own research to show the capabilities of the method.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):44-56
pages 44-56 views

Russia in the context of Eurasian integration: The social dimension

Osadchaya G.I.


On the basis of empirical data (a number of representative nationwide opinion polls and expert estimates) the article presented a detailed overview of the Russians’ and experts’ perception of the results and prospects of the Eurasian integration, and an analytical evaluation of their opinions, hopes and expectations taking into account the potential of the labor movement in the new integrated socio-economic and geopolitical space. The author explains the role and meaning of the social interaction of members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in ensuring the effectiveness of integration, and proposes methodological foundations for the development of the social model of the Eurasian Union with an emphasis on its social dimension. The article reveals the essence of the today supranational model of social policy and its influence on social policies of the members of EEU. Thus, the author explains the primary need to harmonize social actions of the members of EEU in employment policies, and proposes a number of measures for social policy in Russia to ensure free movement of labor in the Eurasian economic space as a key host state and society.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):57-70
pages 57-70 views

Academic and scientometric ratings in the process of science and education globalization: Socio-political implications

Ivanov V.G., Ivanova M.G.


The authors analyze some actual socio-political implications of the contemporary process of the broad recognition and expansion of global academic and scientometric ratings, as well as their impact on the state policy in the scientific and educational fields in the Russian Federation. The authors introduce the concept “charts power” as an important component of “soft power” of nation-states and international institutions for the most popular global academic and scientometric ratings can be used as an economic and foreign policy weapon. The article considers the leading academic ratings (Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, Higher Education Index and QS World University Ranking) and the key scietometric ratings (Web of Science and Scopus). The authors believe that the charts power of other countries represents a real and potential threat for the national security of the Russian Federation, and provide some recommendations to mitigate the challenges, for instance, to create and promote (in due course internationally) a comparative index of trust to the international ratings including academic ones.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):71-81
pages 71-81 views

Prospects for the development of the higher education: Probable scenarios and their implementation in universities

Davydova A.V.


The article considers the urgent issues of assessing the development of the higher education institutions under the significant changes in the higher education system. The author analyzes the situation in the Russian society to identify factors that determine the directions of universities development under difficult market relations and constant competition. The mechanisms of university changes, although based on different criteria, generally aim at achieving the strategic guideline of innovative development to help the university to take its rightful place in the educational market and to become financially independent, for which it is necessary to design the future of universities according to the chosen path of the development. The author describes some probable scenarios for the development of the higher education system, based on the events and reforms in the scientific and educational fields, taking into account the current socio-economic and political situation. The author makes an analogy between the predicted vectors of the development of the higher education institutions and new types of universities as a basis of the proposed scenarios implementation. Thus, the general scenario of the higher education system development on the basis of research universities is complemented by alternative scenarios based on new types of universities - entrepreneurial, innovative, network, and virtual. Such scenarios are relevant as indicators of understanding the state of the higher education system and can help to find new ways of university management and optimal forms of university functioning.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):82-93
pages 82-93 views

Ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia

Annikova V.A., Radusinovich M.


At the end of the XXth century the communist regimes in the Central and Eastern Europe collapsed, as well as the socialist system and the Warsaw Treaty’s Organization. New countries appeared in the international arena: instead of the former Yugoslavia, six new independent countries emerged. The disintegration of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia was followed by ethnic conflicts with tens of thousands victims. International sanctions and bombing of Serbia and Montenegro by the NATO aviation were the results of these conflicts. In 2006 disintegration continued: Serbia and Montenegro became independent countries, and in 2008, after many years of the armed conflict, Kosovo seceded from Serbia. The separation and disintegration processes seem to be typical for the Balkans, because for centuries the region has been home for several South Slavic ethnic groups with different religions, cultural and political traditions. Serbs used to dominate in the region, which provoked a constant latent confrontation with other ethnic groups. The collapse of the authoritarian system and the death of the powerful communist leader B. Tito gave impetus to nationalist movements. Various ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia brought the region to the deep social and economic crisis and pose a threat to the whole Europe due to the criminal groups’ activities in the “hot spots”. In particular, Kosovo is the center of drug trafficking to the Western countries. There are also numerous facts of kidnapping and murders of civilians in the areas, including foreigners, as well as sale of human organs, etc.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):94-102
pages 94-102 views

Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians concepts of the contemporary world: Technical aspects of sociological survey (on the example of PFUR)

Puzanova Z.V., Larina T.I.


The contemporary world brings the problems of international relations that have reached the global scale to the forefront, because political actions inevitably affect relations between peoples of the countries involved. The article presents the results of the sociological research aimed to identify mutual perception and concepts of the contemporary world among citizens of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine on the example of Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia. Belarus, Ukraine and Russia are Slavic countries with common history, united by the Russian language, and forming the basis of the “Russian World”. However, the tragic events of 2013-2014 in Ukraine and global political processes raise the question of how close the peoples of these countries are now and how similar their concepts of the contemporary world are. The authors used the semantic differential method, method of associations and projective questions and focused on the categories «attitude towards countries» (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the global leaders), «attitude towards peoples of the countries» and «attitude towards the language», which formed the basis of the matrix showing the key concepts of the contemporary world among Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian students of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):103-122
pages 103-122 views

Uzbeks in Russia: Practices of adaptation in a foreign language environment

Pozdeev I.L., Arzamazov A.A.


The article considers the problems of adaptation of the Uzbek migrants in Russia. The authors analyze mechanisms of entering the other ethnic environment, strategies of migrants’ economic adaptation and ethno-cultural self-preservation on the example of the Uzbek diaspora in the Udmurt Republic. The article describes the practices of intercultural and interpersonal interaction between migrants and the host community in the region, underlining that the elements of traditional culture, religion, and social networks with compatriots are the main factors of the successful adaptation of Uzbeks in Russia. The feeling of unity with one’s people guarantees the representatives of diaspora a positive perception of the world, expands and strengthens social ties with members of the ethnic group. The authors believe that the historical experience of the coexistence under the ethnic and religious diversity of the region is an important condition for a balanced cross-cultural communication with the “other”; and, considering the problems of adaptation of migrants to the cultural environment, introduce their own definition of the notion “adaptation of migrants” that includes the process of establishing relationships between an individual and the social environment, in the course of which the migrant worker, according to his needs, learns and accepts social and cultural characteristics of the host community, takes them into account in his activities; and the society, in its turn, presents claims to migrants according to the changing social reality.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):123-136
pages 123-136 views

What do we know about contemporary Russian suburbs?

Breslavsky A.S.


The article analyzes the subject field of the so-called “suburban studies” in contemporary Russia. In the first part of the article, the author shows that, despite the obvious potential of the relevant empirical data, the analytical work of Russian scientists, and the ample opportunities to join the current international debates, Russians scientists are still not interested in this area of research, which is, apparently, is a consequence of the general deep crisis of the urban studies in the country. Nowadays Russian suburbs are growing, new forms of suburb relations and household arrangements emerge and develop; however, the number of publications and studies on these processes does not grow. In the second part of the article, the author presents the results of the suburban studies he conducted in one of the largest cities in Siberia - Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia. The author shows how this case reflects the general model of suburban development not only in Russia, but also in the post-soviet urban space. In particular, the article focuses on the development of squatter (unauthorized) settlements, the growth and transformations of suburban villages, reconstruction of urban and suburban dachas, construction of cottage settlements, and the development of non-residential infrastructure near cities.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):137-148
pages 137-148 views

The educational services market and new trends in the state educational policy in contemporary Russia

Efimova I.N., Makoveychuk A.V.


The article analyzes main trends in the development of the higher education system in the contemporary Russian society that seeks to form a new innovation-oriented person, a professional with a wide range of knowledge and skills including the lifelong learning ability. The authors consider the impact of universities ratings and images on the psychological aspects of enrollees’ motivation to choose a higher education institution; describe key mechanisms of the formation of a favorable information field to work with future potential students; identify the most effective channels and content of communication, as well as public opinion leaders determining the choice of a university to study in; forecast the development of such a communication policy both at the internal educational market and in the framework of the international promotion of Russian higher education and improving the quality of education and competitiveness of Russian universities at the international research and educational market. The authors consider their empirical study quite valuable for they analyzed the key trends in the development of the higher education for the period from 2011 to 2014, and indicated some guidelines for further research in the field. These trends and prospects were revealed on the data of the sociological survey conducted in Lobachevsky State University of Nizhniy Novgorod during the admission campaigns of 2011-2014.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):149-158
pages 149-158 views

Comparative studies of value orientations: potential, limitations, and the logic of development

Trotsuk I.V., Savelieva E.A.


The article presents an attempt to identify the current status of the comparative (or cross-cultural) studies in the sociological tradition by indicating basic contexts of discussing relevant issues in the sociological discourse. First, there is a quite ambiguous categorical apparatus of the comparative analysis even at the level of the key nominations of the subject of cross-cultural studies (the ratio of in-country and cross-country comparisons, of regional, socio-cultural, socio-economic and other aspects in the structure and size of the population, samples and sub-samples, survey techniques, etc.). Second, the history of comparative studies is highly fragmented due to the lack of a coherent tradition and a variety of bright methodological principles and techniques, which experienced modifications at the stages of collection and analysis of empirical data (especially due to the need to take into account differences in the subsamples’ worldviews and to avoid systematic biases that generate differences in data instead of measuring the existing ones). Third, there is a variety of attempts to structure the field of comparative studies on various grounds, which often leads to the opposite result - even more confusion in nominations. Finally, there are recognized since the formation of the comparative research orientation in sociology but still unresolved (partly non-resolvable in principle) problems of ensuring the equivalence of data, primarily with the standardized conceptualization and operationalization of the basic concepts of the project and use of a single method of sampling, data collection and analysis.

RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):159-172
pages 159-172 views
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pages 181-185 views


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RUDN Journal of Sociology. 2015;15(4):186-188
pages 186-188 views

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