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Electronic No. 77-8029.

On the web since fall 2000

Journal of Economic Sociology is indexed by Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) from Web of Science™ Core Collection

Funded by the National Research University Higher School of Economics since 2007.

2017. Vol. 18. No. 2

Full text of the journal

Editor’s Foreword (Vadim Radaev)
P. 7–10

New Texts

Andrei Semenov, Vsevolod Bederson
Organizational Reactions of Russian NGOs to 2012 Legislative Changes
P. 11–40

In this article, we examine organizational reactions in the Russian third sector to adoption of the so-called “Foreign Agents” law in July 2012. Within the framework of organizational and resource dependence theories, we analyze state “licensing” policy in relation to civil society organizations and the tightening of regulation in the sector. We propose a typology of NGOs based on resource flows and rules of access, enabling a comparison of the organizational reactions of Russian NGOs to the new regulations. The study is grounded empirically in interviews with 19 representatives of NGOs in nine regions, along with data from internal documents, official statistics, and media reports. Our main argument is informed by the open systems theory of organizations, positing that growing state intervention in the third sector increasingly impacts NGOs’ organizational features, regardless of type. The imposition of a listing of organizations “with foreign agent functions” has affected relations between the state, business, and the third sector, limiting access to resources for the latter. Measures like presidential grants and subsidies to compensate for resource shortfalls tend to be conditional, for example, on political loyalty. More generally, these environmental changes have hindered the capacity of third sector organizations to sustain professionalization. However, Russian NGOs have demonstrated considerable resilience in adapting to these changes through diffusion of organizational forms to minimize the costs of new legislation.</зЮ

Beyond Borders

Anthony B. Atkinson
Inequality: What Сan be Done? (an excerpt)
P. 41–79

In this book addressing how best to reduce contemporary large-scale income inequality, Prof. Atkinson considers economic inequality from a new perspective, drawing on extensive historical data covering more than a century of evolution in modern societies. In the first of the book’s three parts, the author explains his research motivation and poses the following questions. What does inequality mean? To what extent is it expanding today? Has history ever witnessed periods of declining inequality? How can economic theory explain inequality? The second part of the book is devoted to specific political and economic policies designed to reduce inequality. In the third part, the author assesses the extent to which the policies he proposes can be considered realistic, discussing the pros and cons of enacting and implementing them.
The Journal of Economic Sociology publishes the first chapter “Setting the Scene,” which puts readers in the picture by discussing the notion of inequality and its extent. Demonstrating the term’s multiplicity of meanings, Atkinson argues that all questions concerning its main dimensions should be answered before searching for its foundations.

Debut Studies

Anastasia Andreeva, Julia Klimeshova, Maria Kudryavtseva, Anastasia Lobanova
Rationalization of Modern Life: The Case of Water Consumption in Moscow
P. 80–111

In a risk society, healthism, medicalization, and the expansion of the market for bottled water all contribute to the disciplinary self-management of drinking water consumption. Such changes align with the predictions of classical sociologists like Weber and Simmel that the phenomenon of rationalization would extend to all spheres of society, including everyday life. Based on qualitative research data on drinking water consumption in Moscow, this study assesses how such trends are manifested in contemporary Russian society.
The study demonstrates an increasing emphasis on managing thirst. In certain social contexts (including sports, weight loss, and pregnancy), the habitualization of socially constructed norms of water consumption has transformed these into an internal need. The mechanisms of control and calculative behavior are manifested in both the conscious attempts and unconscious measuring tactics developed by Muscovites to increase the volume of water being drunk . Ordinary people who are anxious about the safety of drinking water seek institutional support from the state, advertisements for bottled water, and expert knowledge of various kinds. Because the quality of drinking water is perceived to be an existential issue, the lack of certainty around this issue sometimes gives rise to irrational beliefs. The researchers were especially surprised to find references to “life-giving” or “dead” water in the narratives of respondents with a university education, including some with medical degrees.

Professional Reviews

Polina Popova
How to Explain Financial Disagreements in Families:  A Review of Economic, Psychological and Sociological Theories
P. 112–137

Western literature identifies financial conflict as the main predictor of divorce in families and the most difficult and prolonged issue for spouses. However, the determinants of their occurrence remain a “blind spot” in the vast body of research devoted to marital conflicts and financial management. This article seeks to conceptualize financial conflict and to explain how it arises. The first part examines empirical studies of family conflicts and the role of money problems. Then, drawing on theories of family systems, family stress, social exchange, distribution of benefits, and role theory, the second part looks at the conflict formation process and possible predictors of financial conflict in the family. The third part of the review is devoted to a detailed examination of three factors in conflict formation at a theoretical level. The first of these is financial management and the opposition of independent strategies and pooling mechanisms. Continuing the theme of financial control, the next factor relates to concepts of power and how the grounds for its construction within a household contribute to financial conflict. The final factor is the gendered division of labor, which, according to a number of studies, is a key factor in marital dissatisfaction (especially for women) and the consequent emergence of conflict. The author concludes that these three factors are interrelated and require empirical verification as predictors of financial conflict in families.

New Books

Natalia Conroy
Rational Altruism: Is it Possible to Reconcile Morality with Markets? Book Review: Berend Z. (2016) The Online World of Surrogacy,  NY, Oxford: Berghahn Books. 270 p
P. 138–150

The book by Zsuzsa Berend is based on a decade-long ethnography of writing behavior of a “self-selected group of amazing women”, www.surromomsonline.com users (the SMO’ers). This is not the first, but probably the longest study of American surrogacy and the social dynamics of online discussions, so I'm sure it will become a “must read” for researchers of different fields. The patterns of the discussions initiated by the SMO’ers were connected to parenting and motherhood, work and relationships, contract and money, goods and gifts, which were always the concepts of interest for both economic anthropology and economic sociology. Surrogate mothers and childless couples, who entered into their dialogue without mediators (or, to be precise, via the Internet), were trying to negotiate moral meanings of these concepts in the context of market rationality and to develop a win/win project aiming to bring a new life into the world. Berend who was analyzing their rhetorical efforts by using grounded theory package tried to answer a wider question “is it possible to reconcile morality with markets?” Although she brought some theoretical concepts (in particular, from the field of economic sociology) in her analysis, she also stayed very close to her informants’ explanations of their reality. As a result and in my opinion, Berend found her answer to this question in the “native concept” of “real altruism” redefining the meaning of reciprocity and the balance of “given” and “received”.


XVIII April International Academic Conference on Economic  and Social Development, National Research University Higher School of Economics,  Moscow, 11–14 April 2017
P. 151–161

On April 11–14, 2017, National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), with the support of the World Bank, will be holding the XVIII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development in Moscow. The Conference Programme Committee is chaired by Professor Evgeny Yasin.

Supplements (in English)

Peter Schweitzer
Interview with Peter Schweitzer: “If You No Longer Allow  for the Possibility of Alterity, You are Limiting Your Options of Analyzing  the World(s)” (interviewed by Elena Gudova)
P. 152–169

In this interview, Peter Schweitzer discusses his interest in Siberian studies and Arctic research and addresses the so-called “ontological turn” within recent anthropological debates. His earlier academic interests in the hunting and gathering societies of Chukotka and northeastern Siberia took him to the University of Alaska Fairbanks and led to his eventual cooperation with natural science scholars examining climate change in the Arctic region especially in Alaska. Schweitzer’s current research project, “Configurations of Remoteness,” analyzes the construction of the Baykal-Amur Mainline [BAM] as an example of the influence of (transportation) infrastructure on the ecological and social conditions of a region. The research focuses on the mobility and sociality of people living in areas affected by the BAM and questions the construction of remoteness by observing shifts in that mobility and sociality among builders of the BAM. Schweitzer also discusses the current anthropological interest in ontology and suggests that, along with the more-than-human perspective in some of the social sciences, this enables scholars to go beyond the deconstruction of the “other” to allow for “alterity” as a tool in analyzing the world or worlds. The notion of different worlds (and one culture) is more radical than conceiving of one world from different cultural perspectives. A broader approach to human-environment relations that incorporates alterity offers more fruitful tools for researchers, expanding their analytical possibilities.

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