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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.

2018. Vol. 19. No. 2

Full text of the journal

Editor’s Foreword (Vadim Radaev)
P. 8–11

New Texts

Iryna Chatsverykova
Mobilization of Criminal Law by Business and State: Socio-Economic Status of Defendants and Pretrial Detention in Economic Cases
P. 12–49

Commercialization of law enforcement agencies and the corrupt prosecution of business in Russia could intensify mobilization of criminal law against entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to business conflicts. Mobilization of law starts with calling the police and continues with the following stages of criminal investigation and prosecution. The legal mobilization can be considered successful when the defendant is detained before trial. Using police data on all defendants in Russia charged with economic and corruption crimes from 2013–2014, I examine how the socio-economic status of the defendant and the type of victim are related to pretrial detention decisions. Results indicate that not only the offense but also the defendant’s criminal history, gender, citizenship, and place of residence weigh heavily in investigatory and judicial decision-making on detention in economic and corruption cases. Controlling for major social and legal characteristics, the analysis suggests that entrepreneurs have a similar probability of being detained as governmental officials and that manual workers and have a lower probability than law enforcers and the unemployed. Office workers at commercial companies and state organizations are treated more leniently than entrepreneurs and have the lowest probability of detention. The probability of detention is higher in cases where the victims were citizens or commercial companies (including entrepreneurs), compared to those where defendants damaged the state.

New Translations

Adam Tooze
The Wages of Destruction The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (an excerpt)
P. 50–85

The majority of accounts of the Second World War have described Nazi Germany as an uncontrollable monster with a highly industrialized economy. But what if it was not so? What if the European tragedy was not rooted in Germany’s strength, but in its weakness?
Adam Tooze has written a radically new history of the Second World War. The author achieved this by taking into account racial relations and politics, with special attention focused on economy. Understanding of the global economy played a critical role in Hitler’s views. He guessed that Germany’s relative poverty in 1933 was conditioned by not only the Great Depression but also limitations of its territory and natural resources. He foresaw a rise of a new globalized world where Europe would be pressed by the unbreakable power of America. There was a last chance: the European superstate led by Germany. However, the global balance of economic and military forces did not initially favor of Hitler. With the purpose
of preventing the threat from the West, he sent his poorly armed troops to conquer Europe which led to the crash of his intentions. Even in the summer of 1940, a time of Germany’s great triumphs, Hitler was worried about America’s air and maritime domination, which he was convinced was the result of a Jewish conspiracy. As soon as the Wehrmacht came into Soviet territory, the war turned into a battle of attrition without any hope of Germany’s winning. Because Hitler and others did not accept this, the Third Reich was destroyed at the cost
of millions of lives.
The Journal of Economic Sociology publishes the “Introduction” to this book.

Beyond Borders

Roman Bumagin, Dmitry Rogozin
Criticism of Interview Approach in Examining Similarity of Appearance of Products Belonging to the Same Product Category
P. 86–117

Most of the studies examining the similarity of the appearance of products within a single product category, whose results are used as evidence in intellectual property lawsuits, are b ased on the interview approach. Respondents are asked to estimate a set of products from different manufacturers, either in a personal interview, online interview, or test imitating the situation of choice; they are then asked to answer a battery of questions regarding what they have seen/perceived. No matter how sophisticated the testing techniques are, the questions are focused on discovering the similarity (rather than difference) of objects treated by both the researcher and the examinee as if they are absolutely heterogeneous. Having succeeded at finding this similarity is interpreted as proof that one product is seeking to imitate the other. However, in real marketing practice, the situation where two products belonging to the same category do not inherit some common generic traits and perform as though they were originated in a symbolical and historical vacuum is nearly impossible. Most often, sociologists involved in lawsuits as expert witnesses tend to ignore (or remain ignorant of) the factor of generic/categorical similarity and use discovered “similarity” as direct evidence, contravening the basic principle of experimental work— undisputable openness and falsifiability of all results. The overarching goal of the article is to pull the sociological evidence and expertise out of the shadow of institutional games and to create the basis for scientific criticism of methodological decisions applied by sociologists. Having received an order to conduct a substantial research in this field from a large Russian consumer market player, we decomposed our own methodological cornerstones and developed a simple cognitive-oriented experimental plan that made it possible to conclude that not only is there a similarity between the compared goods, but also a certain background level of similarity within the product group. The technique is described in detail, which allows reproducing or criticizing the results obtained. The described methodical decision can be used in other social studies on similar legal cases. Thus, the criticism of the interview approach dominating Russian practice of sociological expertise in intellectual property trials is presented via the description of an alternative experimental plan.

Andrey Korotayev, Alina Khokhlova, Sergey Tsirel
Unemployment as a Predictor of Socio-Political Destabilization in Western and Eastern Europe
P. 118–167

Powerful political destabilization processes in recent years (such as Arab Spring) have brought attention to unemployment as a possibly important factor in political destabilization. However, the results of different studies, devoted to exploring the relationship between unemployment and instability, are highly contradictory with respect to the direction, strength, and significance of the detected correlations, especially in high income economies. This article examines the impact of unemployment on political destabilization in non-postCommunist (Western) and post-Communist (Eastern) Europe. We use the World Bank data on annual unemployment rates in 45 European countries, numerical values of instability indicators from the CNTS database from 1991–2014, and a modified version of linear regression analysis for this research. The results indicate a strong positive correlation between unemployment rate and sociopolitical destabilization indicators in non-post-Communist countries and a weak negative correlation in post-Communist ones. Moreover, we do not find a single positive statistically significant correlation of the unemployment rate with any of the indicators of socio-political destabilization for post-Communist countries. We see the main reason for different reactions to unemployment in the differences in the amounts, timing, and conditions for social payments. The larger the sizes of benefits and periods of payments (Western Europe), the higher the protest moods and the participation in anti-government actions. The smaller the benefits (Eastern Europe), the lower the participation in protest activities. Additional factors are constituted by the labor migration from the East to the West in Europe, which washes out “combustible material” from the East, but provokes protest activities in favor of anti-immigrant laws in the West, the “Olson-Huntington effect,” and “the patience and understanding” factor of the 1990s.

Debut Studies

Daria Asaturian, Valeriya Erguneva
To Eat or Not to Eat? The Modern Consumption Model Through the Prism of Food Wasting: Moscow Citizens Case
P. 168–195

Following Western and American trends, modern Russian society is going through a change in consumption patterns, particularly related to food products. After Russia’s transition from a “deficit society” to “a society of (over)consumption,” the question regarding the further direction of development arises. If Western countries are now moving toward “conscious consumption,” which is ideologically based on environmental concerns, then Russia has yet to make a choice. In this regard, it is necessary to understand how Russian food management will develop in the future. For this paper, an indicator often bypassed by researchers in the study of nutrition practices was chosen—food wasting. This research is based on 22 in-depth interviews and attempts to identify the semantic contexts that keep informants from wasting food or that stimulate food waste food. According to the results of the study, it became clear that, in addition to the expected rational attitudes tied to the optimization of food management, this issue is interpreted in terms of informants’ values, coupled with the social embeddedness of their practices of throwing out or saving food products, whose roots originate in the Soviet past and are transmitted from generation to generation.

New Books

Natalia Conroy
Creolization of Values: How Fair Taxation is Achieved for Everyone
Book review: Björklund Larsen L. (2017) Shaping Taxpayers: Values in Action at the Swedish Tax Agency , New York; Oxford: Berghahn Books. 220 p.
P. 196–208

Lotta Björklund Larsen’s new book is an ethnography written as a “social biography of things” which is not a rare case in modern Western anthropology. What makes this ethnography special is that the “thing” under study is a report by in-house analysts of the Swedish Tax Agency based on their own two-year research into errors made by small businesses in their annual tax returns. Of course, the anthropologist followed the Agency’s Task Force, not in order to understand why Swedish entrepreneurs make such mistakes, but to understand how the Agency obtains its information about tax compliance and uses it to motivate citizens to comply, and to what extent the Agency itself is shaped by taxpayers’ perceptions of fairness and by their ways of defining the boundaries between private and public and between household and business in everyday life. Björklund Larsen claims that, because of the law’s inconsistency, Swedish auditors work as the law’s interpreters and develop artistic skills to balance two different sets of values—“hard” and “soft.” Hard values of controllability are used to legitimate audits, soft values of empathy help to show society that the Agency collects a “fair” amount of money. Even though the Agency appears to have been very successful in this “creolization” of values over the last few decades, the balancing is always very political and risky, and, in order to save its reputation and to maintain the trust of society in most ambiguous situations, the Agency prefers not to rock the boat and to brush research results under the carpet. I would highly recommend Shaping Taxpayers to anyone interested in knowledge production, technology, and government studies.

Roman Abramov
“It Is Enough!”: The Life and Adventures of the Post-Soviet Working Class Seen by Through the Eyes of a Foreign Ethnographer
Book Review: Morris J. (2016) Everyday Post-Socialism. Working-Class Communities in the Russian Margins . London: Palgrave Macmillan. 292 p
P. 209–229

This is a review of the new book by ethnographer Jeremy Morris entitled Everyday Post-Socialism: Working-Class Communities in the Russian Margins. The book is based on the ethnographic study of the life and work of the population of the provincial industrial Russian town of Isluchino in the period from 2009–2012. Characteristics of the phenomenon of Soviet and post-Soviet single-industry towns are given. These settlements have many social problems now because of the deindustrialization period during the 1990s. The author analyses the social positions of Isluchino’s inhabitants and describes their families, labors, and biographical traces. This study shows the importance of the transition from the Soviet to the post-Soviet period for the Russian working class. Workers lost their respected status and stable employment during the 1990s and moved to the survival mode, and the elderly and younger generations came to have misunderstandings about the perceptions of their positions in the social and occupational structure. Morris speaks of the women’s role in working class families, describing how their function is to care for and maintain family integrity. The author pays special attention to labor relations at local enterprises and demonstrates the transformation of local businesses into corporate cultures. Rigid managerial models of the business administration changed former soft paternalism in the management of Soviet enterprises. The book also contains a methodological reflection of Morris on his professional role as an ethnographer. This book is of particular interest to sociologists, anthropologists, ethnographers, and experts in gender studies and labor relations


19th April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, 10–13 April 2018, Moscow, Higher School of Economics
P. 230–239

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