Quality of life and one’s subjective evaluation of one’s own happiness and well-being are the conventional focus of psychology and sociology. However, a genetic factor has recently been found to affect the subjective evaluation of well-being. The contribution of heredity to a personal level of happiness and life satisfaction has been estimated at 30–50% in twin studies. Individual genes associated with these traits have been identified, but the available data are rather discrepant. In this work, alleles of the monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA) were tested for association with well-being components, such as happiness, health, dangers of living environment, and stress, in Russian men. Trait assessments were based on questionnaires filled out as part of the World Values Survey. It is shown that, among the uVNTR-3R allele carriers, the proportion of men who have high levels of stress, feel unhappy, and live in unsafe environments is lower. The results are discussed in the context of the gene plasticity concept, which provides a possible explanation for how expression of genes related to behavior changes in different environmental conditions.
Today’s Russia is a hostile environment for genuine political activity, and especially for movements that aim at changing the current power structure. This is due to the factually limited manoeuvre space of oppositional actors who face obstacles in the form of repression, surveillance and restricted access to the public sphere. Moreover, society is largely apolitical, with political activity often considered futile, immoral, or dangerous. In this profile, we portray the electoral campaign of the opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, who built a popular movement around his bid to participate in the 2018 presidential elections. Although the campaign failed to build up sufficient pressure for Navalny to be granted access to the elections, and despite the strong hierarchy inside his campaign, we argue that it contributed to the politicization of parts of the younger generation in the country’s provinces – which may have greater long-term effects than any concrete projects envisioned or controlled by the campaign’s strategists.
In the early 1990s, the Russian public held overwhelmingly favorable attitudes toward the United States; in recent years, attitudes toward the United States have been overwhelmingly unfavorable. Analysts often trace this dramatic change to (1) the emergence of Russian-American conflicts such as those in former Yugoslavia and (2) Russian leaders’ attempts to escape blame for their country’s failures by attributing them to a powerful external enemy. We point to another major factor of Russian anti-Americanism that preceded the international conflicts and the government-led anti-American propaganda: (3) disillusionment, or an emotional and ideological dissatisfaction with the outcome of pro-Western reforms that started among the liberal elites and then spread among the general public. Using data from the New Russian Barometer surveys, we analyze the dynamics of attitudes toward the United States from 1993 to 2009. We find that mass disappointment in the perestroika outcomes preceded the spread of anti-Americanism in Russia and that anti-American sentiment was stronger and occurred earlier among the elite than among the mass public. Furthermore, those (especially better-educated) people who express disappointment with the outcomes of pro-Western reforms prove significantly more anti-American. Our findings illustrate a general ideological phenomenon that may explain the growth of anti-Americanism in unsuccessful democracies worldwide.
Following a normative approach that suggests international norms and standards for elections apply universally, regardless of regime type or cultural context, this book examines the challenges to electoral integrity, the actors involved, and the consequences of electoral malpractice and poor electoral integrity that vary by regime type. It bridges the literature on electoral integrity with that of political regime types.
Looking specifically at questions of innovation and learning, corruption and organized crime, political efficacy and turnout, the threat of electoral violence and protest, and finally, the possibility of regime change, it seeks to expand the scholarly understanding of electoral integrity and diverse regimes by exploring the diversity of challenges to electoral integrity, the diversity of actors that are involved and the diversity of consequences that can result.
This text will be of key interest to scholars, students and practitioners of electoral studies, and more broadly of relevance to comparative politics, international development, political behaviour and democracy, democratization, and autocracy.
The roots and routes of cultural evolution are still a mystery. Here, we aim to lift a corner of that veil by illuminating the deep origins of encultured freedoms, which evolved through centuries-long processes of learning to pursue and transmit values and practices oriented towards autonomous individual choice. Analyzing a multitude of data sources, we unravel for 108 Old World countries a sequence of cultural evolution reaching from (a) ancient climates suitable for dairy farming to (b) lactose tolerance at the eve of the colonial era to (c) resources that empowered people in the early industrial era to (d) encultured freedoms today. Historically, lactose tolerance peaks under two contrasting conditions: cold winters and cool summers with steady rain versus hot summers and warm winters with extensive dry periods (Study 1). However, only the cold/wet variant of these two conditions links lactose tolerance at the eve of the colonial era to empowering resources in early industrial times, and to encultured freedoms today (Study 2). We interpret these findings as a form of gene-culture coevolution within a novel thermo-hydraulic theory of freedoms.
While grids or matrix questions are a widely used format in PC web surveys, there is no agreement on the format in mobile web surveys. We conducted a two-wave experiment in an opt in panel in Russia, varying the question format (grid format and item-by-item format) and device respondents used for survey completion (smartphone and PC). The 1,678 respondents completed the survey in the assigned conditions in the first wave and 1,079 in the second wave. Overall, we found somewhat higher measurement error in the grid format in both mobile and PC web conditions. We found almost no significant effect of the question format on test–retest correlations between the latent scores in two waves and no differences in breakoff rates between the question formats. The multigroup comparison showed some measurement equivalence between the question formats. However, the difference varied depending on the length of a scale with a longer scale producing some differences in the measurement equivalence between the conditions. The levels of straightlining were higher in the grid than in the item-by-item format. In addition, concurrent validity was lower in the grid format in both PC and mobile web conditions. Finally, subjective indicators of respondent burden showed that the grid format increased reported technical difficulties and decreased subjective evaluation of the survey.
Since three decades, scholars focus on generalized interpersonal trust as the key component of social capital and there is wide consensus that trust in strangers is the prime indicator of how general people’s trust in others is. However, little work with a specific focus on trust in strangers has been conducted in a comparative, multilevel framework. The few existing studies are inconclusive because of deficiencies in both conceptualization and test strategy. Filling this gap, this article examines the determinants of trust in strangers on the broadest country base ever used in the study of trust, drawing on global cross-cultural evidence from the fifth and sixth rounds of the World Values Surveys--the first international surveys to include a direct question on trust in strangers. Reaching beyond conventional wisdom about the sources of generalized trust, we demonstrate that human empowerment at the country level is a forceful moderator of well-known individual-level determinants of trust. Specifically, in countries with lagging human empowerment, institutional trust, trust in known people and material satisfaction are the only individual-level characteristics that enhance trust in strangers. We also detect an unexpected negative effect of education where human empowerment is lagging. In sharp contrast, in countries with advanced human empowerment, a much broader set of individual-level characteristics increases trust in strangers. This set includes ethnic tolerance, membership in voluntary associations, social movement activity, emancipative values, subjective well-being, age and education. These insights inform a multilevel theory of trust, showing that human empowerment operates as a contextual activator of individual trust promoters.
New drivers of Russian nationalism appeared in the 1990s, making possible either – as a reaction to globalisation – a return to an imperial nationalism, or – in response to ethnic conflict – a rise in ethnic nationalism. This chapter analyses the changing balance of elite and mass preferences and their influence on the choices made by the Russian government. The attitudes of the elite shifted recently in favour of imperial projects beyond Russia’s borders, in a sharp reversal of a long-term post-Soviet trend. Another long-term trend has recently accelerated: that of valuing military might over economic power in international relations. Anti-Muslim sentiment simmering across the Russian Federation might inspire ethnic nationalism. However, the chapter shows that mass-level attitudes towards Muslims correlate negatively with attitudes towards the USA. Given the current level of anti-US sentiment, the ethnic scenario therefore seems unlikely, for the moment.
Internet regulation in Russia has vigorously expanded in recent years to transform the relatively free communication environment of the 2000s into a heavily regulated one. Our goal was to identify the topic structure of Russian media discourse on Internet regulation and compare it between political and non-political media outlets. We used structural topic modeling on 7,240 texts related to Internet regulation that appeared in the Russian media in 2009-2017. We discovered the non-linear dynamics and the larger share of political media covering Internet regulation over years and compared the topics specific to political and non-political media outlets. We found out that most topics had a different share between political and non-political media and that discourse on law belongs largely to the political media. We also identified four clusters in the topics of media coverage of Internet regulation in Russia related to the law, norms, politics, and business, and the time references of particular topics. In addition, we show the parallel dynamics of the topics on site blockings and political opposition and provide the background on legislation and public opinion on Internet regulation in Russia. Our results demonstrate a rather politicized nature of Internet regulation and its connection to a broader political context in Russia.
Russia first introduced Internet regulation in 2012 with site blockings and then progressed to personal data retention and ban on VPNs. This makes an interesting case because online media had spread and established a parallel political agenda in Russia in the 2000s, before the onset of regulations. The focus of this study is the contents and dynamics of media coverage of Internet regulation in Russia over years, particularly the topics covered and the countries involved. It uses topic modeling and social network analysis to analyze 6,140 texts from Russia's largest mass media collection. The automatic modeling approach helps obtain reproducible evidence on the structure and actors of the otherwise highly politicized discourse. The study demonstrated, first, the growing interest of Russian media to Internet regulation, with comparable shares of state-controlled and private media in this discourse. Second, it revealed the structure of 50 topics arranging into nine clusters, from gambling to international relations, with one dominant network segment spanning over five clusters. Third, it identified groups of countries by their appearance in the texts and co-appearance in one text as 'communities' of countries that can 'put on the map' the discourse on certain topics of Internet regulation in Russia.
By permitting early resignations of the governors of Russia's regions, followed by their participation in premature elections, the federal center seeks to facilitate their long-term political survival. This study uses the data from 2013-2015 gubernatorial elections in order to reveal the Kremlin's motivations for this strategy. The analysis demonstrates that in contrast to the previous periods of Russia's political development when the federal center tended to reward the governors for electoral deference the current strategy is aimed primarily at long-term risk-aversion. This signifies a shift in the order of priorities of the Kremlin's policy toward the regions.
The article focuses on the party political spaces in four Southern European countries (i.e. Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain) since the onset of the Euro crisis. To understand the emerging conflict structures, it argues for the need to consider that these countries simultaneously face an economic crisis and a political crisis and that both crises have strong domestic and European components. Moreover, the major driving forces of change tend to be social movements and political parties that forcefully combine opposition to austerity and to “old politics.” This leads to a complex conflict structure shaped by struggles over austerity and political renewal. In this structure, divides over economic and political issues are closely aligned with each other. While this pattern emerges everywhere, there are distinct country differences. Empirically, the article relies on original data from a large-scale content analysis of national election campaigns in the four countries in the period 2011 to 2015.
This essay makes another attempt to clarify the concept of populism and to discuss its causes and consequences. It argues that, at its core, the concept of populism refers to an ‘ideology,’ i.e. a set of beliefs about how democracy works and how it ought to work. It links this core concept to other, related notions of populism, which it considers complementary rather than competing. Given its intimate links to the promises of democracy, populism thrives in times of political and economic crises. In addition, it is facilitated by the way the media operate in contemporary democracies. The political crisis provides an opportunity for populists to point to the broken promises of democracy and to mobilize in the name of ‘the people’ who have gone unrepresented by the mainstream political forces. Finally, the electoral mobilization by populists may have a corrective democratic effect, and populists in power do not seem to put democracy in danger as long as they have to cooperate in coalition governments with mainstream parties which are electorally more important. It is in (quasi)majoritarian systems where populists gain power as the dominant force that they pose a threat to liberal democracy.
Can a society’s overall level of happiness change? Until recently, it was widely held that happiness fluctuates around set-points, so that neither individuals nor societies can lastingly increase their happiness. However, data from surveys carried out in Russia from 1982 to 2011 show that happiness fell substantially following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has begun to rise again only recently. Additional data sources, including suicide rates and indices of negative affect expression, confirm these shifts. Contrary to set-point theory, we find that the recent increase has been driven as much by generational replacement as by mean reversion among individuals. The collapse of communism led to a permanent drop in subjective wellbeing among mid-life cohorts that was subsequently never fully recovered. Happiness can be substantially and permanently impacted by life-events, including those affecting society as a whole, and societal-level happiness can rise or fall over time as a result.
The authors seek to contribute to academic debates on migration studies by examining the role of Islam in the integration of Muslim migrants into a multicultural society with a long-standing Islamic component. This study examined some transformations in the religious practices of both Muslim labor migrants and Russian indigenous Muslims in the situation of large migration flows from Central Asia to Russia. The results demonstrate that these transformations take place in both directions by bringing some Central Asian practices into the life of Russian Muslims and vice versa. The authors also pay special attention to the formation of solidarity between and inside these two quasi-communities. They conclude that social solidarity on the basis of common religion is formed inside migrant communities despite ethnic differences rather than between autochthonous Muslims and migrants.
Germany and France belong to the continental Western European countries whose party systems have been transformed by two waves of mobilization since the 1970s – a first wave that started in the early 1970s with the mobilization of the so‐called new social movements and which gave rise to the Green parties and mainly transformed the left, and a second wave that took off in the early 1980s with the rise of the Front National in France and which has mainly transformed the right. These two waves have articulated societal conflicts that have not been taken up by the mainstream parties.
The question of whether European democracy is in crisis is not new, but is posed in a new way in the shadow of the euro crisis. In the tradition of the studies of democratic support and disaffection and based on data from the European Social Survey 2012, this article analyses the conceptions and evaluations of democracy in the different regions of Europe under the impact of the euro crisis. It shows that the perceived poor performance of the economy and of the government in the crisis, indeed, leads citizens across Europe to evaluate the way their national democracy works more critically – especially in the hard hit regions of Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Europe, and in authoritarian countries. However, it also shows that this critical evaluation of democracy does not undermine the citizens’ support for democracy. Quite to the contrary: democratic principles are actually strengthened by the dissatisfaction of the citizens with the economic and political performance of their countries in the crisis.
This article reports evidence of misspecification of the measurement model for the index of emancipative values, a value construct used as a key explanatory variable in many important contributions to political science. It shows that the scale on which the index is measured is noninvariant across cultural zones and countries in the World Values Survey. In addition, it demonstrates that the current index composition mixes different value dimensions and their actual associations with various political outcomes, in particular the index of effective democracy. However, an analysis using a novel approximate Bayesian approach shows that at least one specific subdimension of emancipative values, known as pro-choice values, truly exists and may be validly measured and compared cross-nationally. The article also contributes to the recent discussion on whether emancipative values are a reflective or a formative construct by providing thought experiments and empirical evidence supporting the former interpretation.
This article uses various Russian elite and mass survey data to explain, from a post‐structuralist perspective, the ongoing confrontation between Russia and the West. It argues that the Russian elite, in the wake of the 2013–2014 Ukrainian crisis, opted for imperial nationalism, different from either ethnic or civic varieties of nationalism, because it best suited its goals. Imperial identification eases ethnic tension within Russia and rallies the nation around its government in the face of perceived external threats. This choice finds an enthusiastic support at the mass level, contributing to rising happiness in spite of economic hardship due to rising national pride. The article also briefly discusses some implications of this momentous shift in identity politics.