Social Networks are Good for Book Lovers but Show a Fall in Reading Among Young Russians
Lyubov Borusiak, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Communications, Media and Design, School of Integrated Communications will be giving a paper at the XVI International April Conference on Economic and Social Development about her research into social networks and what young Russians read. She talked to the HSE English Language News service about her findings and about whether Russian reading habits are changing with the new generation.
— Your research is about how and what young Russians read. You made an analysis of the Russian social network site VKontakte. What were your conclusions? What surprised you and maybe put you on alert?
— What surprised me most was the appalling number of grammatical mistakes young users make when they write the names of their favourite authors and titles of their books. It made our job a lot harder because we had to devise a special dictionary with different spellings so the computer programme could recognise the surnames and titles and not mistake them for other authors and books. It upset me rather than put me on alert that only a small percentage of young people write about books at all on their personal pages. They write about their favourite films and music much more often. And they very rarely mention poets. Literature is generally understood to be prose. Also, contemporary Russian literature doesn’t interest young people, and layers and layers of literature (primarily, almost everything from the soviet period) have disappeared from young people’s sphere of interest today. There’s a fair chance it will vanish into the past altogether.
My hypothesis was that young Russians do not put a high value on books and reading and the foundations of Russian culture are shifting into the past. My hypothesis proved to be true which is not good news.
— What do you see as the main difference between VKontakte and Facebook users?
— In Russia there are more Vkontakte users than Facebook users. On average, VKontakte users are younger than those of their web competitors. Almost all young Russians who have access to the internet use it. That’s why for our research we used this particular network which is popular with young people because it is better for sharing audio and video content, for watching films and serials and listening to music.
— Is it possible to control young users through social networks?
— The word ‘control’ is not quite right in this context. It’s definitely possible to influence in certain areas. Mainly in spheres of social, socio-cultural and political life that young people are curious about. If there is no interest, expectation or demand then it’s hard to achieve any effect. If we’re talking about literature, there are groups that love books and want to read. They are the ones we can and should work with through social media. Those who don’t have the habit of reading are probably beyond our reach.
— What do you plan to work on next? Are students and young people involved in your research?
— We’ll carry on working on the project. In our paper we talk about just one part of it - on the analysis of personal pages in VKontakte, but I’m also working on an analysis of communities dedicated to writers, books and reading. I find that a very interesting area that hasn’t been examined yet. As we are dealing with big data, processing it takes a long time and it is just the two of us, Maxim Karpov and I, working on the project without any organisational or financial support, unfortunately.
A lot of my students are writing coursework and final dissertations on libraries and reading, and for the research seminar our third-years have been developing a creative project to promote reading.
— What do you think is essential to develop a taste or passion for reading in young people?
— We learn to love reading in the family and school. If both of these social institutions inject children and teenagers with a passion for books then the situation will change for the better. For this to happen, parents need to start reading good books to their children in the first months of their lives, so that babies see their mums and dads reading, so that literature lessons in school don’t, as often happens, make children yawn at the mention of the work ‘book’. On social media, including VKontakte, there are thousands of communities devoted to new literature, books and writers, but youngsters who are not in the habit of reading are not drawn to them. For those who do find it interesting, these communities offer lots of opportunities to socialise with other fans, choose interesting books, and learn about the authors’ creative work.
Anna Chernyakhovskya, specially for HSE News service
Lyubov F. Borusiak
Academic Council: HSE University’s Contribution to Achieving National Goals and Development Priorities to Increase
HSE University’s Development Programme until 2030 will be improved in order to increase the university’s contribution to achieving national goals and implementing the priorities of the country’s scientific and technological development. This decision was made by the university’s Academic Council on April 26. The meeting also addressed the principles for the development of HSE University’s external communications, one of which is the creation of a high-quality information field around the university.
Classical economic theory assumes that economic agents are entirely self-interested and rational in their pursuit of material well-being, and that they are not affected by external factors. As a result, externalities are not considered in any way when constructing economic models. Nevertheless, some sociologists argue for a revision of modern economic theory to incorporate the ethical dimensions of economic agents' behaviour. Kirill Borissov, Professor of the Faculty of Economics at the European University in St Petersburg, spoke at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference and shared his observations from creating his own economic model incorporating the factor of envy.
Structural Transformation and Drivers of Sustainable Growth in Russian Economy Discussed at HSE University
The Russian economy has demonstrated high resilience to unprecedented external pressure and has managed to largely adapt to new conditions. As early as this year, it can go from recession to growth. The issue of where to find drivers and resources for this was discussed at a plenary session titled ‘Russian Economy under Sanctions: From Adaptation to Sustainable Growth’ at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference held at HSE University as part of the Decade of Science and Technology. Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Maksim Reshetnikov took part in the discussion.
Experts say that interest in news has sharply increased among the Russian audience. At the same time, part of the audience deliberately avoids it. What kind of content is in demand and will people continue to watch TV? These and other issues were discussed at the plenary session ‘ Info-hygiene and Information Elitism: How to Consume Media Properly’ at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.
Africa has the potential to become a new economic giant. Today, African countries are interested in comprehensive cooperation and strengthening their positions in the global arena, and they look forward to receiving assistance from Russia and China in developing their technology, economy, and social sphere. Effective engagement with Africa requires training a greater number of professional African studies specialists. The XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference at HSE University featured a plenary session on 'Africa in a Changing World'.
Dementia, a debilitating form of cognitive impairment, can be preventable. According to Professor Jubin Abutalebi of the University Vita Salute San Raffaele, Italy, and the Arctic University of Tromsoe, Norway, the easiest way to prevent cognitive decline after the age of 60 is to learn and practice foreign languages – the more languages, the better, suggests Professor Abutalebi in his presentation 'Preventing dementia through bilingualism' at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.
Today, BRICS has become an influential factor in modern international relations and is perceived as one of the pillars of a more just world order. This association is not based on one party’s dominance, but instead, is built on a sound balance of interests. The role of the association was discussed by the participants of the plenary session ‘BRICS Development Strategy: Equal Opportunities in an Unequal World’at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.
Like any crisis, the sanctions of 2022, besides problems, have created new opportunities for Russian companies. This is the conclusion that HSE University’s experts have come to. Their study results are presented in the report ‘Adaptation of Russian Industrial Companies to Sanctions: First Steps and Expectations’, prepared by HSE University for the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.
Experts have calculated that the number of international students in Russia has grown six times over the last decade, and researchers say that many of those who are studying today would like to stay in the country. This, alongside issues such as why Google Trends are worth looking into, were covered at the HSE XXIV Yasin International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development section on demography and labour markets.
HSE University is hosting the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development in Moscow from April 4–14. The conference has attracted over 3,000 leading researchers, experts, business representatives and government officials from over 30 countries. The leaders of HSE University—Rector Nikita Anisimov, Academic Supervisor Yaroslav Kuzminov, and President Alexander Shokhin—addressed the conference participants.