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Russian Political Identity: Contributing Factors and Key Components

Priority areas of development: humanitarian
2018

Goal of research: to explore how political transformation affect key components of political identity and and whether political identity is stable over time in the context of political change.

Methodology: the main methods used in this research are survey, in-depth interviews and focus-groups with students

Empirical base of research: the research is based on multiple data, gained from:

  • 51 focus-groups conducted in 12 Russian cities with local youth
  • 150 in-depth interviews conducted with Russian (75) and Chinese (75) young people, who study at Russian universities
  • 70 in-depth interviews conducted with Russian (35) and Korean (35) young people, who study at Russian universities
  • survey study among No students in Russia, the UK, and the USA

Results of research :

The main implications of this research are:

  • The main theoretical perspectives and existing studies on political identity, its structure and its development were examined. The key traditions and approaches to identity studies were taken under review with a focus on national, civic and regional identities as forms of political identity. In addition to that we examined different elements of national identity, namely collective memory and patriotism along with values and their role in the process of national identity construction.
  • A cross-national study was carried out using methodology designed in the previous research. This methodology was aimed at collecting data on spatiotemporal dimension of national identity and allowed us to explore cultural, socio-psychological and political boundaries of national identities.
  • The structure of political identity among Russian youth was examined. The results of the study shed light on how national and regional identities are constructed and looks at interplay between them. We found that national identity among youth is based on the following dichotomy: while students hold positive image of Russia and are proud of being ‘Russians’ (in civic terms), the problems on both regional and national level invoke the concern for the future which in turn challenge their sense of pride. We also found out that while national identity is grounded on stereotypical images of Russia, regional and local identities are based on everyday life experiences of young people and are connected to the basis of regional agenda.
  • The structures of Russian youth political identity and of students from other countries were compared. The study examined political identity in comparative perspective with a focus on:

a. collective memory and its emotional components, i.e.  the senses of pride and shame among students in Russia, USA and UK. The results of survey among Russian, British and American students  showed that the less shame culture is spread in the society of a given state, the more its citizens  are proud of the events that took place in the past and the less they are inclined to critically assess current political environment in this state.

b. images of countries (China and Russia, Korea and Russia) among Chinese,  Korean and Russian students of Russian universities.  The interviews with Russian, Chinese and Korean students showed that the country images are based on the elements of ‘soft power’. Additionally, these students’ perceptions are based on certain cultural elements (contemporary Korean culture, the cult of food in Korea, Russian literature and Russian ballet). However, the study also showed that Chinese and Russian students tend to view each other in stereotypical way.

Publications: