Ever Fewer Russians View Science as Entirely Positive
This is the conclusion reached by researchers from the HSE’s Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK), based on a survey of people aiming to establish the level of trust members of the general public have in science and technology.
In 2015 the proportion of Russians who said that there is ‘undoubtedly greater benefit’ from science and technology stood at 18%, while the figure for 2003 was 32%, in 2014 it was 20% and in 2011 it was 32%.
‘This is related to a number of factors, including the level of scientific literacy among the population, and the quality of scientific communication, which in Russia is quite low, and I would note a growing inconsistency in progress within science and technology. The public responds to that – a process we are able to observe thanks to regular monitoring,’ said head of the department for research into the productivity of scientific and technical activities at ISSEK, Konstantin Fursov.
Science is complex and multifaceted, and any evaluation of its economic and social effects requires serious research over a number of years, Fursov stresses. He says that the questions asked in the survey do not shed light on what demands society has for researchers and engineers, but it does give a broad picture of how different segments of society view science and technology.
That is why this indicator has been used for decades in a range of international research. In the period over which this research has been carried out in Russia – over 10 years – we can identify a noticeable and significant proportion of the population (from 59% to 68% of those surveyed), who point to a benefit from discoveries in science and technology, the ISSEK researchers noted. The correction to the research methodology that took place in 2015, excluding neutral alternative options in the survey – has led to a significant increase in the proportion of negative answers. The previous year, 2014, saw the highest percent of neutral answers, indicating the unclear perception of contemporary science by society.
The survey indicated that the benefit generated from science and technology is most frequently felt by the young people – under 34s (73% vs 67% average) and those who have higher educations (71% vs 67% average), who follow news on science and technology most closely and who are best acquainted with the latest developments in this area.