Occupational Characteristics and Attitudes of Russian Social Scientists

Ivan Klimov

The social dynamic of the professional scholarly community in Russia today is conditioned first of all by foreign language skills, prolonged stays in the West, access to the Internet, the choice of research theme, and the degree of collegial interaction. A new system of professional positions is coming into being which overlaps only in part with the system of formal statuses within the academy of science and the universities. The upshot is that two social structures coexist, where the older one retains its formal role and fulfills a social support function.

In the course to 2001-02 polls were conducted among 205 Russian social scientists from 25 cities in the Russia and Ukraine: Astrakhan, Barnaul, Velikij Novgorod, Vladivostok, Volgograd, Ivanovo, Izhevsk, Irkutsk, Kazan', Krasnodar, Kemerovo, Moskva, Nizhnij Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Odessa (Ukraine), Postov-na-Donu, Samara, Sankt-Petersburg, saratov, Syktyvkar, Tomsk, Ul'janovsk, Ufa, Khar'kov (Ukraine), Cheboksary, Jaroslavl.

70% of the respondents are employed in universities, 18% are employed in academic institutes, 12% are employed by expert consultancy, research or administrative organizations. The distribution represents the occupational structure of the social sciences in Russia and partly in Ukraine.

The relation of men to women in the sampling is 50:50. The average woman's age is 40; that of men 48. 25% of the respondents are under 35. 75% have earned the titles 'kandidat' and 'doktor'. 5% have earned the Western PhD or MA. As a rule, men have the title 'doctor of science'.

36% of the respondents are above the age of 50. 50% assess the material standing of their families as middling; 29% as bad. 15% considered their situation as favorable.

86% receive over and beyond their principal wage additional revenue, as a rule from activities connected with their specializations. The scale of monthly revenue varies from 1500 rubles ($50.00) to 5000 rubles ($160.00). As a rule, the middle- and older aged groups of specialists cited levels of personal income exceeding 3000 rubles (56% and 59% respectively). 53% of the younger respondents enjoy revenue not in excess of 3000 rubles ($100.00). The mains sources of income are grants from Russian and foreign foundations to which marketing and advertising are added.

Virtually all the respondents have scholarly publications. The average quantity of publications ranges from 20 to 40. A large part of the social scientists has an education in history. Then comes sociology, philosophy, philology.

30% of all the respondents have spent time abroad on scientific leave. They maintain intensive contacts with Western specialists; actively use email and the Internet. 70% can manage to some degree in English, 25% in German, 11% in French. A constant can be defined for the relation between mastery of a language and the degree of intensity of scholarly contacts with foreign colleagues. Interestingly, foreign skills are correlated with a greater workload: more than 50 hours p/week.

67% of the respondents evaluated the professional level of Russian sociology as middling, 47% as high. Quite distinct though not very marked differences with respect to this question depend on whether or not a given person had a period of scientific activity abroad.

The orientation in social theory which has priority today is 'verstehende Soziologie' (29%), phenomenology (26%), the sociology of knowledge (22%), postmodernism (21%), structural functionalism (21%), and gender studies (21%). It is telltale that Marxism has disappeared from the thematic map of the social sciences. In this case, at issue are social scientists' views regarding theory, not scholarly specialization. Analysis of statistical correlations among theoretical preferences shows that phenomenology, neo-Kantianism, and psychoanalysis share center stage. The choice of phenomenology is as a rule accompanied by references to ethnomethodology, verstehende Soziologie and symbolic interactionism. The union of these orientations coincides with several optional areas: postmodernism, sociology of knowledge, existentialism.

13% of social scientists in Russia are specialized in culture studies. This is in fact the most widespread orientation. Culture studies involve history, sociological theory, methods of sociological research, and gender studies.

The professional scholarly community is extremely diversified as regards social positions and thematic priorities. It is possible to postulate that in Russia today no professional community, united internally by an enduring system of norms, exists. (It may well that this is the case as well in Western social science.) Today in Russia there are 'networked groupings', that is, professional corporations within which contacts, scientific exchange, and interaction are chance occurrences.

[Translated from the Russian by Prof. E. M. Swiderski, Fribourg CH]

* International Biography and History of Russian Sociology Projects feature interviews and autobiographical materials collected from scholars who participated in the intellectual movements spurred by the Nikita Khrushchev's liberalization campaign. The materials are posted as they become available, in the language of the original, with the translations planned for the future. Dr. Boris Doktorov (bdoktorov@inbox.ru) and Dmitri Shalin (shalin@unlv.nevada.edu) are editing the projects.