The third regular seminar: "St. Petersburg and Shanghai at the reform period"
On April 14, 2011 at the third regular seminar of LCSS, Mikhail Chernysh, PhD, the Head of the Sector of Social Mobility at the Institute of Sociology of the RAS, reported about the most interesting results of the Russian-Chinese comparative study: “St. Petersburg and Shanghai at the reform period”, carried out in 2009.
This project aims at the analysis of the normative order in the Russian and Chinese megalopolises. Adult population (from 18 to 70 years old) of St. Petersburg (1200) and Shanghai (1600) were interviewed by means of random sampling. These cities rank second to capitals both by their size and by economic impact. Prof. Chernish focused on three questions, illustrating different expressions of the normative order and the results of the realized reforms:
- Which of the following factors influence the level of wage in fact and which one should influence?
The respondents scored on a five-point scale what influence a particular parameter (for example, education) has on the earned income. The range of differences between “how it should be” and “how it actually is” (according to respondents) is very important. Thus, it turned out that in Shanghai the distinctions between actual and expected parameters are significantly lower than in St. Petersburg. This fact indicates that there is a greater discrepancy between the formal and informal norms in the Russian city. In other words, as authors of the study assumed, for the inhabitants of St. Petersburg “the current reality looks like an unfair game of some groups to the prejudice of others”, but the residents of Shanghai seem to be more problem-free in this respect.
- How did you get a job?
In St. Petersburg, the most important channels of job search are social networks (friends, relatives and etc.) and self-offering to the companies. In Shanghai, the job search through recruitment agencies (most of them are state agencies) is the most popular. Thus, through the recruiting companies the state regulates the labor market in Shanghai, imposing on workers formal rules, while the authorities in St. Petersburg don’t do this.
- If the management of the enterprise has violated your rights, how will you act?
In Shanghai, workers prefer to contact the local committee of trade unions in such situation, and in St. Petersburg employees more often resort to the higher command, or do nothing at all. A possible explanation of this fact is that the Chinese appreciate a work collective and have a psychological predisposition to join with colleague, but individualism corresponds to the Russian workers to the grater extend.
To summarize, prof. Chernysh noted: “It seems that St. Petersburg is an island of trouble by the state of labor market, income distribution, etc. But Shanghai has made an impression of a dynamic and developing megapolis, despite the difficulties”. Overall social and economic well-being is directly reflected in the mind of townsmen, and it became apparent in the results of the study.