Research Internship at Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science in St. Petersburg
Since the beginning of this academic year, Marika Sharashenidze has been a research intern at the Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science (LSES) in St. Petersburg.
Marika recently graduated from the Rice University in Houston, Texas, United States, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Medicine. This year, she came to LSES to study migrants’ children in St. Petersburg schools. Marika found the Laboratory when she was looking for migrants’ studies. She read LSES’s publications in English and found them useful. Then she wrote to Daniil Alexandrov, Head of LSES, and requested an internship. We spoke with Marika about how sociologists live in America and asked her to tell us about her research plans in Russia.
About coming to Russia
My parents grew up in Russia. My father is a Georgian, and my mother is a Jew born in Ukraine. Both of them moved to Kazan as kids, where they later met while they were studying at medical university. There is a language barrier problem between me and my parents. Their English isn’t perfect, and I can’t always understand 100% of what they say. I would like to improve my Russian to bridge this gap of misunderstanding between us, and now I can have a lot of practice here.
When you are a sociologist, people always say something like ‘Well, you’re never going to find a job’. They keep kidding about it. And I even think it’s funny. Sociology in America is one of the most multidimensional areas. If you don’t want to have only ‘white males’ as your classmates, you choose this major.
About those who study quality and quantity
In the U.S., everyone knows that if you are involved in quantitative sociology, your papers are more likely to be published than those with qualitative research. Of course, you can write a book, but how many books can a researcher publish throughout their life… five? In addition to that, the problem is that you have to have publications in order to be asked to write this book, and the journals are reluctant to accept papers based on qualitative data. This is only my opinion, however, and I might be wrong.
We carried out several mini projects at the university. I received my first grant from the Department of Jewish Studies. I was very interested in spatial sociology then, and at first, I wanted do go to Mexico and study graffiti there. But my parents would never have approved of such a trip. That’s why I had to go to study graffiti in Tel Aviv, and particularly, how an individual can influence a cultural space.
About plans in Russia
I’m going to study the interaction between schoolchildren from different ethnic groups. It seems to me that for Russians, it is very important to meet people at a young age, when their core ties are evolving. Usually they are formed at school, and in this case, it’s important to understand whether such ties evolve between schoolchildren of different ethnicities. This problem is also very relevant because Russia is the world’s second country in terms of transnational migration, and this phenomenon is not as well studied as in the U.S. During the first three months of my study, I’ll be carrying out observations at schools, and then I’ll be interviewing the schoolchildren.
About Russian schools
Your schools are a lot better! My school definitely didn’t look like this. I’m not sure and probably this was just the first school I managed to visit, but when I looked under the table, it was clean, and the walls are clean too, there are no drawings, marks, and ‘school graffiti’. I also noticed a ping-pong table in the hall, and then I wondered, why hasn’t it been stolen yet?
In mid-June 2017, the town of Pushkin near St. Petersburg, Russia welcomed the Fifth International Summer School on Higher Education Research, a joint initiative between the HSE Institute of Education and Peking University’s China Institute for Educational Finance Research. This year, the Summer School focused on higher education and social inequality.
HSE researchers examined the structure of online communities of Russian AIDS denialists – people who deny the reality of HIV and AIDS – and the manner in which they spread their ideas. The findings are published in American Behavioral Scientist.
The HSE St Petersburg Buddy Club has officially become a section of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). The buddy club is a student organization and its main aim is helping international students adapt to their new lifestyle in Saint Petersburg and to their studies at the Higher School of Economics. Club members meet international students when they arrive, take them to the students' new home, explain how to use the underground, help buy a sim card, open a bank account and assist with other important tasks which students may find difficult to handle not knowing the Russian language. Additionally, the club also organizes educational and entertaining activities, trips to theatres, cultural events, Russian film evenings, etc.
Representatives of about 30 international universities have come to Moscow to take part in International Partner Week at HSE and discuss cooperation agreements, joint educational programmes, and research and student exchange programmes. On June 23, a partner university fair will be held for HSE students.
On June 19 the Higher School of Economics signed a cooperation agreement with Hitotsubashi University in Japan. The agreement covers mutual visits for lecturers and researchers, student exchange programmes, as well as joint research projects, academic events, and publications.
Altruism based on individual values is changing Western society. People in Western countries have seen a rise in individualism for quite some time, and this in turn helps to create generations of people with altruistic mindsets. Christian Welzel, Chief Research Fellow in the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (HSE and Leuphana University of Lüneburg), teamed up with researchers from the University of Lausanne to conduct a study showing the connection between emancipative values and prosocial behaviour. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.
Students from HSE ISSEK, Stanford University, and Rice University have researched how Russia and the US cooperate in cybersecurity and explored the nuances present in the approaches that each country takes in this area, including different understandings of cybersecurity-related terms. The research was conducted in 2016-2017 as part of the Stanford US-Russia Forum (SURF), a programme dedicated to developing US-Russia cooperation. Over a period of 8 months, 30 American and Russian students and young professionals worked on their projects.
Adolescents who have a greater tendency to lie to their parents are also more likely to start using alcohol at an earlier age, while excessive parental supervision may aggravate rather than solve the problem. Both honesty and a lower risk of developing a drinking habit are usually the result of a trusting relationship between a teenager and parents, according to a joint study by New York University and HSE researchers, published at Journal of Adolescence.
On May 10 – 19 students of HSE- Nizhny Novgorod and University of Utah Valley (USA) took part at the international school 'Democracy in the Contemporary World' held at Higher School of Economics – Nizhny Novgorod within the Master's Programme on Political Linguistics.
Happiness and harmony are the two mantras of most commercials. "Buy this stuff, and it'll make you happier," they promise. Yet they do not always succeed in increasing sales. One of the reasons may be that advertisers and their audiences have different views on happiness. While the former tend to reduce happiness to hedonism, pleasure-seeking and satisfying one’s desires here and now, the latter often refuse to limit happiness to simple enjoyment.