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?
Sociology today distinguishes more developmental stages of growing up than just childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, as commemorated in Leo Tolstoy’s trilogy Childhood, Boyhood, Youth. For the past two decades, sociologists have been exploring the concept of emerging adulthood, a transitional stage that occurs between adolescence and early adulthood. Researchers at the HSE Institute of Education have discovered that in Russia, one out of every two young respondents, with females more frequently than males, falls within the emerging adult category. The study findings have been published in Emerging Adulthood.
News avoidance is a global phenomenon that affects millions of people around the world. Despite their conscious refusal to consume media content, many argue that the most important news still finds them. Researchers at the HSE Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology have studied how people perceive the ‘news-finds-me’ effect. The results of the study were published in the Bulletin of Moscow University.
Researchers from HSE University have analysed why people feel happier when they help others. It turns out that joy is caused by different reasons, depending on who we help — relatives or strangers. In both cases, happiness brings moral satisfaction from doing a good deed, but helping loved ones is also associated with satisfying the need for belonging and acceptance, while helping strangers provides a sense of autonomy. The results of the research were published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Although there is a larger percentage of drinkers among high-status professionals and executives compared to low-status workers, the former consume less alcohol. This is one of the findings of a study carried out by researchers of the HSE Faculty of Economic Sciences and published in Voprosy Statistiki.
‘Studying at HSE Was a Chance for Me to Get to Know Some Supportive Seniors, Knowledgeable Professors, and Wonderful Friends’
On August 4, 2023, a pre-defence of the thesis on ‘Refugee-Host Community Conflict over Assimilation, Integration, and State Legitimacy: The Case of Rohingyas in Bangladesh’ by Md. Reza Habib will be held at HSE University. The preliminary defence will take place at a joint meeting of the HSE School of Sociology and the International Laboratory for Social Integration Research. Md. Reza Habib shared his experience of studying and preparing his PhD with the HSE News Service.
Economists and sociologists who study alcohol consumption patterns often link them to people's living conditions and human capital such as education, work experience, and knowledge. Researchers of the HSE Laboratory for Labour Market Studies and the HSE Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology have found that non-cognitive skills developed in childhood and adolescence can have a major effect on the likelihood of alcohol abuse later in life and can diminish the role of education in this respect. The paper has been published in the Journal of Comparative Economics.
Using a multidimensional approach, sociologists from HSE University have identified some vulnerable categories of the population that have rarely been the focus of research on poverty. According to their calculations, pensioners and people with disabilities also fall into the ‘poor’ category. The study was published in the Russian Journal of Economics.
An international team including HSE researchers has conducted the largest ever cross-cultural study of appearance-enhancing behaviours. They have found that people worldwide spend an average of four hours a day on enhancing their beauty. Caring for one's appearance does not depend on gender, and older people worry as much about looking their best as the young do. The strongest predictor of attractiveness-enhancing behaviours appears to be social media usage. The study findings have been published in Evolution and Human Behaviour.
Sociologist Valeria Kondratenko used data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey-HSE (RLMS-HSE) to demonstrate that the percentage of young Russians aged 14 to 22 who consume alcohol decreased by 2.3 times from 62.1% to 26.9% between 2006 and 2019. This paper also explores the correlation between the alcohol consumption habits of children and those of their parents. A paper with the findings of this study has been published in the Bulletin of RLMS–HSE.
Researchers of the HSE Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (LCSR), jointly with colleagues from research centres in Germany, Australia and China, examined the relationship between national variations in obesity rates and cultural dimensions. The associations they found were tested empirically through analyses conducted across 51 countries worldwide. Individualism appears to be associated with a higher prevalence of obesity, but only in the male population. The study findings have been published in Social Science & Medicine.