Measure Harmony with Algebra
An LCSR panel at the 7th EUSP annual conference "Exhibition of Achievements of the Scientific Industry"
On November, 7-9, 2013, the 7th annual conference “Exhibition of Achievements of the Scientific Industry” (VDNKh) took place at the European University (St Petersburg). This conference was established as a way of showing and distributing Russian achievements in social sciences and as an opportunity of communication between Russian and foreign scientists. Scholars of the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research presented their research projects at the conference.
Eduard Ponarin, the director of LCSR, delivered the results of the collaborative project the primary purpose of which was to analyze the dynamics of attitudes of Russians towards the U.S. in during the post-Soviet era. The authors examined the views of two groups: the elites and the masses. The authors based their explanatory model on the theory of national ressentiment described in a famous book "Nationalism. Five ways to modernity", written in 1992 by Liah Greenfeld. The authors found a strong effect of ressentiment (i.e. disappointment in the results of economic and political reforms of the early 90s) on anti-American sentiment in the early 1990s. It is also worth noting that during the 2000s the attitude towards America were changing dramatically in times of worsening diplomatic relations between Russia and the U.S. In particular, military conflicts in Kosovo and South Ossetia encouraged the further growth of negative attitudes toward the United States.
The next presenter was Andrey Shcherbak with a report on impact of genetic diversity on social changes. Andrey investigates the role of alcohol in the European colonization of Africa, Asia and both Americas. Andrey and his co-author Svetlana Borinskaya (Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, Russian Academy of Science) hypothesized that the probability of colonization partly depended on genetic predisposition of a given population for alcoholism (measured as a frequency of the respective allele in the population). The results of regression analysis showed that genetic factor is significant which suggests that genetic diversity was one of the important factors shaped the outcomes of European colonization.
Anna Nemirovskaya continued the session with the report on socio-cultural differences between center and frontier areas in Russia. In particular, she found that the residents of frontier regions (Siberia and Far East) on average are more inclined to individualism, egalitarianism, social activism. They demonstrate higher levels of trust and tolerance, adherence to libertarian economic principals. At the same time, the inhabitants of frontier regions are more conservative and less inclined to support political authority than residents of the center. Anna argues that these value dissimilarities are stable and wide-spread, as in other frontier countries (USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and some others).
Julia Zelikova delivered a report on factors that determine subjective well-being of elder people. She came to the following results: the “autumn” of life is often perceived as the time of self-fulfillment, self-enhancement, hobbies and entertainment. But the factors that influence level of subjective well-being change according to historical and cultural peculiarities of the region or country of living. There are sustainable differences in the level of well-being among elder cohorts between protestant and catholic countries or English-speaking and post-Soviet countries. But there are some similarities between all the elder people: financial situation, state of health and feeling of control are significant predictors of happiness in all European regions, but marital status and number of children aren’t.
Boris Sokolov presented on reasons that stimulate European people to vote for the extreme right parties. Using novel two-part regression model instead of conventional Tobit model, he found that value polarization is positively associated with voting for radical right parties, while unemployment correlates negatively with the existence of such parties. Large social security funds and high levels of immigration enhance the possibility of far-right parties` existence. There is no linkage between the ideological salience of issues associated with right-wing rhetoric and either existence or electoral support for the radical right..
Veronika Kostenko was the last speaker at the session and presented a joint project with Sofia Lopatina and Eduard Ponarin. They investigate family and sexual norms in post-Soviet countries. The main puzzle of the research is that in some countries (namely, in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) people who live in secure conditions share more conservative attitudes towards sexual and family norms than people who live in harsh conditions. It was found that in Belarus, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan the link between conditions of life and shared sexual and family attitudes depends on the level of religiosity. In Armenia and Russia security conditions of life positively correlate with sexual liberalization. Furthermore, higher level of anomia leads to higher level of sexual liberalization (the Ukraine is an notable exception). Finally, high levels of violence acceptability also associated with higher levels of sexual liberalization in all countries except Russia.
by Sofia Lopatina