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Sustainability of the Russian economy in the perspective of economic sociolo

Priority areas of development: sociology
2019

Goal of research

To identify the changes, occurred on consumer markets in Russia as a result of the crisis of 2014-2017.

Methodology

In the present research, a wide set of methodological tools to the analysis of qualitative data was applied, including discourse analysis; grounded theory with a focus on abductive analysis; frame analysis, retrospective method, historical method of ‘incorporated comparison etc. The quantitative data analysis was based on the Age-Period-Cohort model, correlation and regressive analysis and others.

Empirical base of research

The empirical database of the study included: the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey - Higher School of Economics (RLMS-HSE), Factiva database, containing texts of publication in the press and transcripts of television news programmes; information resources “Integrum” and “Medialogia”; monitoring projects “Financial behaviour of Russian citizens” and “Relations between retailers and their suppliers on modern consumer markets”.

Results of research

In the field of inter-firm linkages

Empirical evidence suggests the higher economic efficiency of vertical, rather than transactional inter-firm linkages. The findings correspond with the results of previous research and can be attributed to the greater flexibility in implementing inter-firm interactions, which allows for a more successful response to unforeseen changes and saving on transaction costs in creating value. The combinations of specific inter-firm and network linkages, as well as specific inter-firm and autonomous linkages, have proved to be more cost-effective than the combination of transactional and network linkages, as well as transactional and autonomous linkages. This can be attributed to the social embeddedness of economic relationship. The study identified an interesting feature: there is no direct relationship between the prevalence of the particular type of relationship and its link to the economic efficiency. In other words, the most effective type of relationship is not the most common.

In the field of retirement strategies

In 2005-2018, despite demographic, economic, and institutional changes that have occurred, people's pension strategies have not positively changed: the level of pensions from the State is still considered to be insufficient, and after the increasing of the retirement age the evaluation of the state pensions significantly declined and reached the minimum for the entire period of observations since 2005. At the same time, fewer Russian citizens expect to receive additional income in the form of pensions. In 2018, for the first time in the entire observation period, the number of respondents who do not expect additional sources of income in retirement exceeded the number of those who expect to have such sources of income. Financial strategies for pension savings have not become common: in 2018, only 10% of unretired Russians claimed that they count on personal savings or the pension from the system of private pension savings.

In the field of forms of cashless payment

Presents the first results of understanding the structural features of users with the latest forms of cashless payment - in particular, non-contact. These typologies were also examined on differences in the level of trust in the main political and financial institutions. According to the results of the analysis, we can talk about a positive trend in the distribution of bank cards, and in particular contactless mobile payments in our country. Not the last role, perhaps, is played by the MIR national payment system, which allows us to solve not only the tasks of protecting Russian savings from external threats, but also allows us to adapt the use of bank cards among a wide variety of population groups. At the same time, contactless payment technologies (included in the mobile banking group) and Internet banking services are actively developing. Electronic payment systems, most often referred to as electronic money or "wallets", remain in the category of niche products. Their distribution is seriously determined by socio-economic factors: education, wealth, etc. Therefore, so far they can be considered as niche payment instruments. In general, according to the results of an extended analysis of trust among users exclusively with bank cards and bank cards plus contactless payments, we noticed that trust in financial institutions has an indirect positive effect on an individual's willingness to use new forms of cashless payment in the future. As part of the 2019 wave, the first groundwork was made for a more in-depth study of the financial practices of this group of people. In the future, it is planned to expand the stack of questions on mobile and contactless payments.

In the field of urban and rural millennials study  

The behaviour of rural millennials differs significantly from behavioral patterns of their urban peers for most parameters. There are multiple and significant differences in the behaviour between types of settlement within one generation. The first hypothesis of the research was confirmed in almost all cases. There are only few exceptions, the noteworthy ones are that there is no difference between urban and rural millennials in having children and the equal prevalence of smoking.

Notably, the vectors of difference between urban and rural millennials can be divergent and point in different directions. In some respects, rural millennials lag behind their urban peers in terms of the diffusion of new practices, in other parameters the villagers outperform rural millennials. In the latter case, this is most likely linked to their limited material and social opportunities, but not because rural youth accept new things faster. It is not a coincidence that rural millennials are ahead of urban millennials when the trend among the youth is to reduce particular practices (marriage, entry into the labor market) or to reduce the consumption of some goods (for example, alcohol consumption or watching TV). On the contrary, if the new trend implies the wider spread and promotion of the goods (educational services, new gadgets, bank cards or sports), then the villagers (and also often residents of small urban type towns) lag behind. In some cases, the situation is contradictory - for example, there are more religious people among rural millennials, but urban millennials are more likely to attend church services.

In relation to the whole population, it can be concluded that there is a simultaneous increase in new behavioral practices among people in the countryside and in the city, but the gap between the two types of communities in most parameters still persists and occurs within the new generation of millennials. And the question of how unified this generation is and to what extent we can generally consider them as the single generation, remains open.

In the field of alcohol consumption study

The research provides the methodological justification for the transition in the field of alcohol consumption to international terminology and the measurements adopted in international research practice. Yet, the problem is not limited to the level of consumption of alcoholic beverages, but is considered from sociological positions, analyzing the nature and patterns of such consumption.

The proposed innovations refer to the shift from the usual Russian terms of drunkenness and binge drinking to international terms of risky and excessive consumption; from measuring the volume and nature of consumption in the 30 days prior to the survey to measuring of alcohol consumption over the past 12 months; from the well-established measurement of alcohol consumption in grams to the use of the new for the Russian research concept of “standard serving”, the size of which is determined in relation to all major alcoholic beverages; from calculating the amount of consumed alcohol over a month to determining the dose of the alcohol intake in one day. Based on the experience of international research, we operationalize a number of new significant concepts, including risky and excessive consumption, occasional high alcohol intake and a maximum alcohol intake in one day. We also illustrate different approaches to measure the extent of risky alcohol consumption through its negative physiological and social consequences. Further, we analyze the inevitable difficulties that arise in measuring the parameters of alcohol consumption and classification of alcoholic beverages, as well as the problems associated with the difficulties for respondents to answer new unusual questions and volatility of their answers.

As a result of the new categories application to the rsearch, different typologies of consumers are designed: by the amount of consumption during the period and by the dose of alcohol intake in one day, by the presence of occasional high alcohol intake and by the maximum amount of alcohol intake in one day. The intersection of provided typologies allows to identify the at-risk groups that should be an object of greater attention of researchers and regulatory measures of economic and social policy.

In the field of consumption policy

Consumer identity bears the imprint of the cultural background and the features of the socio-political social contract. In modern Russia, the course for consumer autonomy is declared: “There is no money, but you should hold on”. It is expected that the consumer should be responsible for his/her own well-being. To do this, the consumer must behave “reasonably” and “rationally” - to learn to be competent. But even under distancing of the State and proclamation of the course for individual independence, for consumers the State remains one of the key actors on the market. The consumer experience cannot be analyzed regardless of civic identity.

During the Soviet era, the injustice against the purchaser is routinized in the sphere of consumption. The consumer acquires the fixed role of the victim, which is basically helpless in the face of the seller’s dictate. We assume that the willingness to cheat remains a key feature of the modern Russian consumption described as a culture of suspicion. The critical attitude towards the sellers extends to the State, which also remains out of control and is considered an external structure pursuing its own interests.

It would be rash to draw conclusions about consumers’ paternalism. The State is an important, but not the sole agent, which is able to take care of the consumer’s interests. Actors on the market are expected to provide transparent and understandable terms of exchange seen as an imperative of fairness and virtue. Producers and shops are supposed to take into account the interests of the consumer, but not only to maximize their profits. It can be assumed that the demand for alternative means of market regulation can serve as a reserve for building market relationships without the participation of the state.

In the field of the work schedule study

In the modern society, there is a growing conflict between the desire of business to function in the 24/7 mode, supported by the development of the ‘consumption society’, and the more inertial temporal organization of social and family life. To ensure the availability of various benefits at any time of the day during the week, more and more people are forced to work in the evening and night hours, on weekends and holidays, which are meant for pastime with relatives, friends, acquaintances, as well as a variety of social events. As a result, those employed at non-standard times are excluded from the usual social activity, which negatively affects their subjective well-being.

In the field of organizational changes at the enterprise

The study examines the emergence and preconditions for understanding of the organizational changes at the enterprise such as: the transition of the organization between different states (stages, phases, continuums and opposition) and the organizing process itself, which precedes and enables the very existence of the organization. The researcher’s choice can be based on theory, but in fact it is often dictated by the peculiarities of the object investigation. B. Charnyawski proposed narrative approach, which relates to procedural understanding of changes and examines the institutional context of these changes through the narratives of participants.

In the field of food regimes in agriculture

The concept of ‘food regimes’ was conceived as a historical method of “incorporated comparison” and it actually provides a good analytical tool to understand global trends. However, the agrarian development of Brazil and Russia questions a number of provisions of this approach and requires both addition/clarification and the application of other tools in order to compare the strategies of the two countries' entry into world markets.

In the field of framing of import substitution in Russian media

The analysis of the discussion of import substitution in the Russian press allowed to identify eight main frames through which the media formed public opinion on this issue – anti-Western, patriotic, nostalgic, sentimental, interest-centered, consequence-centered, selfish, and demonstrative. The most popular frames are the patriotic and the consequence-centered ones. It is interesting to note that in the analyzed discussion there is often an appeal to both ideologically colored topics and the real consequences of the implemented economic policy. Thus, it can be argued that the topic of import substitution is discussed at the intersection of economics and politics, leading to the ambivalence of the way this issue is covered. Politicians and business representatives defend their interests, using the arguments of both ideological and economic nature to justify their position. It is likely that the constant shift of emphasis in import substitution discussion will make it difficult for the reader to understand what is happening in reality.

Publications:


Жидкова П. А. Детерминанты финансовых разногласий в российских семьях // Социологический журнал. 2019. Т. 25. № 3. C. 67-83. doi
Kruglova A. Petra Rethmann. Russia: Anthropological Insights. North York, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2018 // Laboratorium. Журнал социальных исследований. 2019. Vol. 11. No. 2. P. 159-161. doi
Shevchuk A., Strebkov D., Davis S. N. Skill Mismatch and Work–Life Conflict: The Mediating Role of Job Satisfaction // Journal of Education and Work. 2019. Vol. 32. No. 2. P. 181-195. doi