Third LCSR Conference. The Final Report
by Maria Kravtsova
The 3rd International Annual Research Conference, “Cultural and Economic Changes under Cross-National Perspective”, of the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (LCSR) took place at the Higher School of Economics (HSE), Moscow on November, 12-17, 2013.
This year we had many new participants from all over the world. The laboratory is rapidly becoming more and more international. The list of presenters included more than 70 scientists from Belarus, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Romania, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United States. Among them there were representatives of the worldwide known research centers such as Harvard University, the University of Michigan, Humboldt University, European University Institute in Florence, GESIS, and others.
Some researchers have joined our research network recently. The newcomers shared their ideas about interrelation between the general level of happiness and individual happiness (Luciano Canova, Enrico Matteo School of Milan, Italy), the link between the couples’ marital status and children’s well-being (Lucia Ferrone, University of Florence) and the impact of parental religiosity on children’s health (Olga Popova. Institute for Eastern and Southeastern European Studies). Among the many exciting new projects we would like to mention the joint research of Francesco Sarracino (Ceps/Instead, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxemburg) and Malgorzata Mikucka (Universite catholique de Louvain, Belgium). They are trying to find an answer on the intriguing question if economic growth might be harmful for subjective well-being because it erodes social capital.
During the conference several final reports on LCSR projects were presented. These are almost finished papers, which after some minor revisions could be submitted to international peer - reviewed journals. This time Andrey Shcherbak (LCSR HSE, St. Petersburg) presented the final version of his joint project with Svetlana Borinskaya (Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow) on a very sensitive and disputable topic whether genes have an impact on social processes. The authors have shown that indigenous populations which had genotype with lower allele frequencies of the gene responsible for metabolism of alcohol (which provides protection against alcoholism), were more likely to be colonized by the Europeans since 16th century to the year 1900. Other interesting final reports were presented on subjective well-being of atypically employed (by Tatiana Karabchuk and Natalia Soboleva, LCSR HSE, Moscow), electoral fortunes of right-wing populist parties (by Boris Sokolov, LCSR HSE, St, Petersburg), urban loneliness (by Chris Swader, LCSR HSE, Moscow) and protests under non democratic regimes (by Margarita Zavadskaya, European University Institute, Florence).
The conference program included key lectures by the world leading experts in their fields. You may become familiar with the list of the presenters, annotations of the research projects and the presentations on the official website of the LCSR. To mention some of them we would highlight the lecture by Christian Welzel (Leuphana University, Luneburg) on the paradox of democracy. He shows that emancipative values make people critical of their country’s democratic performance and encourage them to express this criticism publically. That is why in more developed countries people are more likely to underrate the level of democracy and to exert pressure on those in power. In contrast, in less developed countries people overrate the level of democracy that is why they are less motivated to establish public control over authorities. Ronald Inglehart (Michigan University) gave a very interesting and positive talk concerning the decline of violence in contemporary world. These changes might be explained by three key processes: democratization, rise of knowledge society and globalization processes.
This conference as well as all the other events organized by LCSR was characterized by a very friendly atmosphere; as one of the researchers mentioned: “It feels like a family reunion”. The comments of the experts contained very clear practical suggestions how to improve the presented studies which is very important for young researchers. As a result of this strategy, the quality of the projects has risen significantly since the foundation of LCSR. Our laboratory offers also good facilities for senior researches to share their ideas with high qualified experts and to find talented and motivated young collaborators for their research projects. We invite everyone to take part in our research network and in the upcoming events of our Laboratory in 2014 which will include the traditional spring workshop, LCSR Summer School, and, of course, the 4rd International Research Conference of the LCSR. All the latest announcements and news can be found at our website!
by Maria Kravtsova