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Studying Changing Cultural and Socio-economic Contexts on the Post-Soviet Space

Based at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences of Jacobs University Bremen, Germany, Dr. Klaus Boehnke serves as the co-head of the International Laboratory for Socio-Cultural Research at HSE. He recently delivered a talk entitled ‘Adolescent Annihilation Fears and Lifetime Happiness: Insights from a Long-Term Longitudinal Study’. In an interview with HSE News Service, Dr. Klaus Boehnke described his professional activity at HSE and commented on HSE’s international research projects. 

Current project

The project I am leading at HSE, Socio-psychological consequences of changing cultural and socio-economic contexts on the post-Soviet space, has several important facets. First, the project analyses and re-analyses marvelous data on value transmission and value change that are available at the International Laboratory for Socio-Cultural Research (ILSCR) led by Professor Nadezhda Lebedeva. But these analyses only form the basis for further inquiries into changes in the social fabric of Russia and countries formerly comprising the Soviet Union. Here questions of social cohesion come into focus. How high or low is social cohesion in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union, and what are the consequences for psychosocial well-being? Lastly, the project will also look at new developments in Russia that are becoming eminent due to high numbers of immigrants to the Russian Federation. We intend to study intergroup anxiety, as well as its predictors and consequences under this sub-topic.

International cooperation

The cooperation with the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS) — that I headed for 10 years before accepting the job at HSE — rests on two strong pillars. One is institutional. The ILSCR lab and the psychology department are members of the COFUND network, an EU project that funds doctoral projects at BIGSSS. At the same time, BIGSSS doctoral students spend their obligatory half year abroad at one of 10 international partners such as ILSCR or Taras Shevchenko University in Kiev.

Cooperation also works on an individual level. After their brilliant performance in a very competitive selection process, five former HSE Master’s students are now earning PhDs at BIGSSS in Bremen.

I have an ongoing longitudinal study of former adolescent peace movement activists for which data has been gathered in 10 waves since 1985. The ILSCR researchers have worked continuously with this amazing longitudinal data set ever since the subjects participated in a Winter School in Bremen that was organized by BIGSSS and the Swiss Graduate School LIVES. And because I have not been able to invest a lot of time in this data set, I am very happy that HSE members demand I work with them on it. In my public presentation last week, I offered analyses of data derived from that study.