Muscovites and Residents of Moscow Oblast Ready to Be Socially Active

On February 13, the director of HSE’s Centre for Studies of Civil Society and Non-Profit Sector, Irina Mersiyanova, presented the results of the project entitled, ‘Social Activity of Muscovites in Figures’. The research was conducted by the Centre in December 2017. 2018 has been proclaimed the Year of the Volunteer by the President of the Russian Federation.

Irina Mersiyanova’s presentation included data which indicates that residents of the Moscow region (Moscow and Moscow Oblast) are more actively engaged in volunteer activities and charitable donations than inhabitants of other regions of the country. In 2017, 73% of Moscow region inhabitants made donations, which significantly exceeded the percentage for Russia as a whole (57%). 37% took part in volunteer activities.

The research data has helped to streamline Irina Mersiyanova’s concept of the social base of civil society. Her concept distinguishes between social groups which are represented by the nucleus, the satellite of the nucleus, the buffer zone, the periphery and the outsiders. According to this new study which involved surveying inhabitants of the Moscow region, the nucleus of the social base (people who actively participate in socially useful activities and who are ready to join forces with others) contains 13% of the region’s population. 30% are located in the satellite of the nucleus (those who possess features of the nucleus, but do not participate in civil initiatives and NGO activities). Results indicate that 81% of the inhabitants of the Moscow region are ready to join forces with others if their ideas and interests coincide, as compared to 77% for Russia as a whole. The readiness of Muscovites and residents of Moscow Oblast to offer financial assistance and to work as volunteers (43% and 35%) is also significantly higher than the corresponding figures for the whole country (11% and 12%).

Meeting participants included representatives of NGOs, charitable foundations, experts and journalists. The discussion that followed the presentation highlighted the relevance of the results of the centre’s new study in terms of their potential in developing and fine-tuning promising areas of state support of NGOs, as well as in increasing the demand for NGOs which meet the needs of the population.

Based on the research data, the matrix, which combines specific types of social assistance based on importance and activeness of participation, makes it possible to identify the activities that Muscovites classify as important and actively participate in. This includes helping the elderly, seriously ill children, and people in difficult situations. Paradoxical as it may seem, there are some activities that are generally considered to be unimportant, but attract a large number of active volunteers (for example, helping animals). Finally, there are activities that are considered important, but do not attract active public participation (for example, volunteer assistance in medical institutions, legal clinics for the general public). This complex and multifaceted reality, reflecting the differences in people's views on participation in charitable activities and the nature of their participation in these activities, is extremely useful to workers and experts in this field, as well as state bodies, in determining the most significant areas of social assistance that require volunteer participation.