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The Russian Economy after the Crisis:  Revising the Social Grounds of Market Exchange

Priority areas of development: sociology

Goal of research: to reveal how the social basis of market exchange after the crisis is changing (on the example of financial and medical services markets, consumer behavior, alcohol, medicine, labor market, relations between retailers and suppliers).


Quantitative and qualitative sociological methods

Empirical base of research

Nationwide survey of the population, representing the adult (over 18) population of the Russian Federation on the gender, age, employment status and the type of settlement in which the respondent lives, as well as some federal districts of Russia. The scheme provides a sample of respondents with the following characteristics:

  • The total amount - 1,600 people,

  • The number of the Russian Federation subjects, in which the sample is realized - at least 40;

  • The number of settlements (administrative territorial units - ATE) - at least 150;

  • The number of respondents in one settlement (ATE) - at least five people.

  • sampling error - 3.4%

Time of the survey - October-November 2017

Results of research

In the field of behavior in the alcohol market

Although the share of drinkers and smokers in Russia has fallen in recent years, Russia is still among the leaders in both alcohol and tobacco consumption. Despite government measures aimed at reducing alcohol and tobacco consumption, there is no certainty that the observed tendency towards a fall in numbers is the result of this policy and not of other factors, e.g., the effect of a cohort or a change in values towards a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, despite the existing reviews devoted to addictive behavior, we consider it important to return to systematizing explanations for the causes and determinants of the demand for addictive goods. The specificity of this paper is also that we consider the factors affecting both alcohol and tobacco consumption, although they are traditionally considered separately. However, both tobacco and alcohol are so-called addictive goods; therefore, the economic and sociological concepts that explain commitment to them are the same. Empirical studies also use a similar type of model. This review shows similar patterns in the demand for alcohol and tobacco and social and economic determinants. The factors of demand for these goods could be divided into economic, individual, socio-cultural, and external environmental factors (as well as biological factors that are not considered in this paper). The Russian data primarily confirms the theoretical assumptions and empirical results obtained for other countries. It could be concluded that a certain characteristic of Russian consumers is a weaker effect of prices on demand for these goods.

In the field of political consumerism

After the cultural turn in consumption studies, the development of political consumerism as a new analytical framework has become a productive step forward for deeper understanding of consumption and the notion of the consumer. In particular, this paper reviews the main reasons for the emergence of an economic understanding of consumption and how this understanding has led to an opposition between politics and consumption. The theory of political consumerism softened the antagonistic relations between the passive and self-interested consumer and the active citizen who cares about social prosperity. According to this approach, consumption is a new creative form of political participation during the societal shift to more post-materialist values and increasing demand for individual autonomy. Consumers use markets as an alternative arena for political action, where their purchasing power becomes a tool for restoring social justice without government intervention. However, the author argues that the theory of political consumerism is too linear and too narrow a framework for analyzing the variety involved in the politics of consumption. The politics of consumption reflect the dynamics of the relationship between the state and its citizens. The notion of the consumer is shaped not only by the market economy, but also by the directive power and interests of the state. Based on historical evidence from different countries, this paper shows the proliferation of genealogies of consumerist policy and the understandings of the citizenship norms represented by consumers.

In the field of electronic payment systems

According to the analysis results, the positive trend of the bank cards spreading can be observed in Russian Federation. Probably, one of the main reasons of this trend is the national payment system «MIR», which allows to solve not only the problem of protecting the Russians’ savings from outside threats, but also to adapt the use of bank cards among the most diverse groups of the population. At the same time, contactless payment technologies (included in the mobile banking group) and Internet banking services are actively developing. Electronic payment systems, usually called electronic money or “wallets”, are still in the category of niche products. Their distribution is seriously determined by socio-economic factors: education, welfare, etc. Based on the six selected types of EPS users, it can be stated that the least active of them trust such institutions as the police, courts, TV and the President of the Russian Federation work. This group is usually an older generation, which for the most part does not know how to properly use EPS. This directly relates to the problem of financial literacy of the population and will be studied in the next wave of monitoring as it is a serious problem for the adaptation of incoming payment technologies.

In the field of research of millennials

We provide an original classification of generations based upon historical conditions faced during the years of emerging adulthood. A broad range of social indicators is used for empirical exploration of inter-generational changes. A special emphasis is made upon the youngest adult generation of millennials coming out of their adolescence in the 2000s. Data were collected from the annual Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS-HSE) in 1994–2016. Methods of rank correlations and logistic regressions are used as statistical tools to reveal significant differences among generational cohorts with regard to the family planning, use of digital technologies, commitment to the healthy lifestyles, religious affiliation, and subjective well-being. Retrospective analysis is also applied to control the impact of age on generational cohorts. In most of the considered cases, we have found significant and robust differences between millennials and previous generations over time of observations. However, patterns of change are different. In some cases, like use of digital technologies, millennials contribute to acceleration of existing trends whereas in other cases, like alcohol consumption and smoking, they provide a break in these trends.

In the field of work values of freelancers

Using unique data on freelancers participating in an online labor market (N = 9,984), we integrate work values research with the Job Demands-Resources model to assess the role that work value orientations play in self-employed workers’ subjective well-being. We find that intrinsic work values are associated with greater subjective well-being whereas extrinsic work values are associated with lower subjective well-being. Consistent with the buffer hypothesis, intrinsic work value orientation reduces the negative effect of working hours on worker well-being, and extrinsic orientation enhances the negative effect. Our paper calls into question the importance of working conditions relative to worker values when assessing the role that job demands and resources play in the new economy. As work becomes more demanding and employment relations more flexible, personal resources such as work value orientations may become increasingly important for worker well-being.


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