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"Syndrome of political nostalgia" in modern Russia

Priority areas of development: humanitarian
2014
Department: Laboratory For Political Studies

Public opinion polls demonstrate that the significant part of Russian population perceives Soviet social order as an ideal one. 

They take a dim view of the initial period of democratic institutions development in the country, and the near future of Russia remains vague for them. Along with low quality of life and low level of trust, that elevates nostalgia for steady Soviet past. This situation is a serious obstacle for political, economic, social and cultural modernization. That provides the topicality of the research project devoted to the analysis of political perceptions of the Soviet past.

It's especially relevant to consider social groups that would not have to feel nostalgiс at all. This study adresses the Russian population as a whole, but also focuses on two specific social groups. The first one is a younger generation that has no personal experience of living in the Soviet Union. The second one is a priesthood that would have to be less inclined to idealize life in the Soviet Union than other citizens due to secularization and violent persecution of religion during the communist period. However, the prevalence of nostalgia in the collective memory of these groups demonstrates how deeply rooted the idealized representations of the past are.

The main subject being analyzed in this research project is the collective memory of the Russians and the syndrome political nostalgia occupying a dominant position in its structure.

The goal of this research is to analyze the Russians’ collective memory and to provide an insight into major components of the syndrome of political nostalgia.

The following research methods were used to provide an empirical base of the research: secondary analysis of survey data, in-depth interviews, surveys, discourse analyses and biographical study.

The results of the study were as follows:

  • Analysis of the main theoretical and empirical studies on the collective / cultural memory as well as the phenomenon of nostalgia in political science;
  • Сonceptualization of the notion ‘political nostalgia syndrome’ and operationalization of its basic components;
  • Systematization of empirical information concerning the syndrome of political nostalgia under the study in the political views of the Russians;
  • Collection of qualitative data on the specifics of "political nostalgia syndrome" among Russian students and priesthood;
  • Elaboration of a new method, a tool for the study of the migration nostalgia.

The research project is divided into four parts. In the first, theoretical, part of the project we address the political aspects of the collective memory, conceptualize the ‘political nostalgia syndrome’ notion, and analyze the major characteristics of the collective memory of the Russians and the prevalence of the political nostalgia syndrome in its structure.

The second and the third parts of the research are devoted to revealing the specifics of "political nostalgia syndrome" among Russian students and clergy.

As for the fourth part, it includes a description of the methodology developed for studying collective memory. This methodology is based on a combination of discourse-analytical method and biographical approach. The research capacity of this methodology is demonstrated on the example of analysis of collective memory and collective identity of Russian migrants in Germany

The results obtained may be used in a number of various scientific fields: in post-Soviet studies, in studies of the dynamics of social change and intercultural communication, in migration studies, as well as in studies of collective memory (Memory Studies).

The scientific significance of the project is connected, first of all, with the fact that conceptualization of the notion ‘political nostalgia syndrome’ provides a groundwork for further researches on collective memory in Russia. There was no such a theoretical concept before. That is why it was impossible to study collective memory and the phenomenon of nostalgia in Russia. The research is also practically significant because operationalization of the political nostalgia syndrome basic components provides the possibility to predict and empirically study this syndrome.

Publications:


Зевелева О. И. Биографический метод и критический дискурс-анализ: перспективы сочетания // Социология: методология, методы, математическое моделирование. 2014. № 39. 
Kasamara V., Sorokina A. Post-Soviet Collective Memory: Russian Youths about Soviet Past // Communist and Post-Communist Studies. 2015. Vol. 48. No. 2-3. P. 137-145. doi
Кулькова А. Ю. Взаимосвязь религиозности и социального консерватизма: Россия и Европа // Общественные науки и современность. 2015. № 3. C. 141-154. 
Kulkova A. Religiosity and Political Participation in Contemporary Russia: A Quantitative Analysis / Высшая школа экономики. Series PS "Political Science". 2014. No. 20.