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­­­The social organization of economic life in contemporary Russian society

Priority areas of development: sociology
2015
Department: Center for Study of Social Organization of a Firm
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Goal of research: a comprehensive study of the social organization of economic activities in rural and urban areas on the basis of, firstly, the empirical study of rural areas in the Kirov region, and secondly, theoretical and methodological analysis of the key problems of business social organization in contemporary urban areas.

Methodology: the project included two main parts: theoretical one and empirical one. In the theoretical part, various methodological techniques were utilized: theoretical analysis and synthesis, critical analysis of the literature (including foreign sources), systematization and generalization. The empirical part of the project implied data collection in the Kirov region: one preliminary study (based on qualitative methods) and two mass quantitative surveys (the main part of the empirical work). In the analysis of the quantitative data, we used the comparisons based on coefficient of chi-square Pearson, correlation analysis, and cluster analysis.

Empirical base of research: the main empirical base is comprised by two mass surveys conducted in the Kirov region on the representative samples in August - November 2015: the survey "Study of socio-economic characteristics of rural households, the sources of their income and problems in improving their material well-being" (interviewed 450 respondents) and the survey "Study of the attitudes of the working age rural population" (interviews with 850 respondents).

Results of research: In the theoretical section of the project, we focused on two major problems. First, opportunities and prospects of "meritocracy" as the conceptual basis for a comparative analysis of management practices in Russian and Finnish companies. Second, the concept of "quality of working life" as a tool for integrated assessment of the objective and subjective well-being of the employee in contemporary business organizations. The results of the theoretical section lay foundations for developing a new conceptual basis for comparative studies of social organization of economic life in Russia and western countries.

The empirical section of the project (which is of primarily importance) identified a number of negative trends in the socio-economic development of rural areas in the Kirov region. These trends affect the social structure, demographic processes, issues of well-being, and questions of social attitudes and practices of behavior. At the heart of the revealed problems lies the insufficient market-oriented transformation of rural areas in the Kirov region, which is illustrated in comparison with the Penza and Belgorod regions, studied by the research team team in 2013-2014. The level of implementation of the principles of efficiency, entrepreneurial initiative, and competition in the rural areas of the Kirov region is clearly insufficient. Local agricultural enterprises, just like the old "collective farms", continue to be major (and often ineffective) employers for the rural population. The level of management efficiency, labor organization and social control in these enterprises are low, which results in continuing existence of such social practices as stealing and drunkenness on the job-place. At the same time, market-oriented business activities, for example, private farming, are very poorly developed.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results: The project presents a comprehensive analysis of the social organization of rural life in the Kirov region, which can be used in planning the future development of rural areas in the region. The results reveal the main problems in the relating fields. In particular, we revealed the relatively low standard of living of the rural population (at least, in comparison with the Belgorod and the Penza region, studied in 2013 and 2014), as well as the underdevelopment of infrastructure for efficient rural entrepreneurship based on private farming and subsidiary plots. In conclusion, we found the need for additional efforts to accelerate the market transformation of the rural economy in the region, the transition to the modern market institutions, competitive and more efficient forms of economic activity.

Publications:


Efendiev A., Sorokin P. S. Rural life in Russia before and after the establishment of agroholdings: case-study in Belgorod region // Communist and Post-Communist Studies. 2016