Officially registered in the Federal Service for Supervision in the Area of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications
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.

2019. Vol. 20. No. 3

Full text of the journal

Editor’s Foreword (Vadim Radaev )
P. 7–11


Alena Ledeneva
Interview with Alena Ledeneva: To Control a Level of Informality You Need the Targeted Therapy of Informal Practices
P. 12–24

In the interview, Professor Alena Ledeneva talks about her research experience, current projects, and plans. She also presents her creative guidelines for analyzing the informal economy’s worlds with the help of a context-sensitive comparative ethnographic study. Rooted in her PhD written in the mid-1990s on the contribution of blat to the functioning of the Soviet economy, the program today provides the basis for the unique empirical project, “The Global Encyclopedia of Informality,” which attracted the participation of 223 research fellows from different countries. Being publicly opened, the Encyclopedia with a base of cases describes a given informal practice’s national versions, including a list of the most recent sociological and anthropological literature for analyzing that practice. This interview demonstrates how sensitivity to ethnography’s methodological challenges allows the author to move from producing a retrospective study of the local empirical phenomenon to theorizing. The theoretical insights that Professor Ledeneva generates help to evaluate the qualities of liberal reforms, including anti-corruption policies. She shows that when the façade of formal institutions is invisibly based on rigidity and double standards, informal practices contribute to both creating and destroying of social systems. Until the conflict between rules issued from the top and reaction from the bottom is taken into account during social and political transformations, the minimizing of corruption will be difficult.
In the interview, Professor Ledeneva shares her research experience and demonstrates how she struggled for validity of the conclusions in her qualitative research through comparisons of empirical evidences from different sources. She also discusses the challenges from her in-depth interviews implying discussions of sensitive topics and how they could be overcome. Particularly, Alena refers to her approach to ethnography of informal economy as a “method of slow cooking.” This interview, however, may produce impressions that Alena’s “field kitchen” tends to be molecular.

New Texts

Denis Strebkov, Andrey Shevchuk, Anastasia Lukina, Ekaterina Melianova, Alexey Tyulyupo
Social Factors of Contractor Selection on Freelance Online Marketplace: Study of Contests Using “Big Data”
P. 25–65

E-markets are online trading platforms designed to improve efficiency of interactions between sellers and buyers of goods and services. E-markets have become a fundamental organizational innovation in the information era. One example is freelance online marketplaces (online labor markets) that allow self-employed professionals (freelancers) and their clients to quickly and cost-effectively find each other anywhere in the world. Online labor markets substantially change the employment landscape and labor relations, actualizing the task of exploring contractual practices and mechanisms introduced by them. Similar to other websites, online labor markets record huge amounts of diverse information about the users and their actions. Utilizing such “big data,” we conducted research using factors that enable freelancers to win employment contests. The contest is one of the most popular mechanisms of freelancer selection, implying an open competition between all the candidates who perform the task set up by the competition organizer who finally determines a winner and pays a remuneration. The study uses open data on contests held from November 2009 to November 2018 on the largest Russianlanguage online marketplace. Data were collected automatically using a web scraping technique. The final sample consists of 6,169 contests, in which 335,613 freelancers took part, and the number of unique participants was 45,174 persons. The study results indicate the absence of persistent discrimination on the basis of socio-demographic characteristics. The results also revealed the important role of formalized reputation (embodied in ratings and reviews) and communication between the freelancer and the employer (in the form of mutual comments) that increase the chances of a freelancer winning a contest. The paper also discusses methodological issues that arise when working with “big data.” In general, this study of contests on freelance online marketplaces leads to the understanding of the role of social factors in the functioning of the new electronic economy based on “big data” generated by this economy.

Irina Mersiyanova, Dmitry Malakhov, Natalya Ivanova
The Role of Family as a Channel of Intergenerational Transmission of Volunteer Traditions in Contemporary Russia
P. 66–89

The paper focuses on the role of family in forming the consistency of volunteering traditions in contemporary Russia. The paper investigated the correlation between parental volunteering and the current volunteering of their children. International studies indicate that family impact on children’s attitude towards volunteering is a significant channel of intergenerational transmission of prosocial behavioral patterns. One of the viewpoints that draws on the social learning theory (A. Bandura), posits that children model their prosocial behavior, such as volunteering, on the direct example of their parents. Another viewpoint pertaining to the resource theory links the transmission of volunteerism with the transmission of parental social status. Social status transmission can be accompanied by normative pressure since a higher socio-economic status is associated with unpaid voluntary contribution for the benefit of society. The key hypothesis of the research proposes that in Russia, where volunteerism still has not taken root as a sociocultural norm and is not associated with the transmission of social status, the transmission of volunteerism is mostly due to direct family influence and is particularly due to the influence of parental volunteering. The paper presents the results of the All-Russia Representative Survey, which confirm the above hypothesis. Using a linear probability model and the logit model, we show that in Russia, active parental volunteering is likely to be strongly and significantly associated with the respondents’ current volunteering. The results demonstrate stability with the change of the model specification and a set of control variables. The paper has important practical implications for nonprofit organizations on how to engage volunteers of different generations by developing family volunteer programs. Such programs could facilitate early motivation of children to volunteer through direct observation and modeling of parental prosocial behavior.

New Translations

Paul Fussell
Class: A Guide Through the American Status System (an excerpt)
P. 90–98

This book presents a comprehensive and carefully researched guide to the American class system. Professor Fussell distinguishes between classes using not a criterion of inborn features or hidden observation preferences, but by using visible demonstrations of choice. Fussell describes the lifestyles of people in each class, from the way they dress and where they live to their education and hobbies.
Journal of Economic Sociology publishes the first chapter, “A Touchy Subject,” in which Fussell indicates that in the United States, class differences are complex and subtle and that the existence of a class structure in the country is questioned. However, Fussell considers that a refusal to answer the question about social classes as well as a hostile response to the question indicate that in a given society there is a class system.

Beyond Borders

Sergey Кorotaev, Elena Gasiukova
The Social Differences and Political Participation: The Mediating Effect of Ideological Position
P. 99–135

The article considers ideological orientation as a mediator of social position influence on political participation. There is a significant number of works in the literature today that examine each of the chains of this relationship separately (the influence of social position on political preferences, the impact of political preferences on political participation). However, the role of political preference as a mediator of the influence of social position on political participation has not been studied. The current work contributes to the development of this approach by applying a model of mediation effect. The model consists of three variables: dependent (political participation), independent (social position), and mediator variable (political preferences). In order to construct the corresponding regressions and assess significances, the authors constructed a three-dimensional space of political preferences: the first axis is associated with the ideas of the agreement about material inequality, the second axis is the ideas about the importance of a welfare state, and the third axis is the degree of tolerance for migrants. Two types of political participation were considered with respect to the dependent variable: voting and direct participation initiated by citizens rather than by government. The study examined data from the 8th wave of the European Social Survey (2016), and the analysis was carried out on three groups of countries: Western Europe (Belgium, Austria, Germany, France), post-socialist countries of Central Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland), and Russia. The results reveal the statistical significance of political preferences as a mediator of the influence of social position on political participation; meanwhile, the direction of influence was nearly the same for the three groups of countries. The differences between the states were in the (non-)significance of the coefficients themselves. As a whole, it may be concluded that in relation to Western countries, the obtained patterns correspond quite accurately to the present views in the literature; the impact of social position on political participation in post-socialist countries (including Russia) is less significant, as only a few social differences are manifested in the political sphere.

Debut Studies

Mariya Goleva
The Effects of Social Network on Fertility: The Case of Large Families in Russia
P. 136–163

The article attempts to answer the question: “How do large families appear in the contemporary world despite economic, social, and institutional constraints?” The study’s thesis focuses on the meso-level (social ties) in the research of processes of fertility. Results show that the typology of mechanisms affecting fertility behavior is based on the tradition of family research in the logic of social network analysis; this is relevant and productive for family studies.
The analysis of 25 in-depth interviews with parents from large families reveals several conclusions about the functioning of the mechanisms affecting fertility behavior in the context of modern Russia. The interviews were conducted in Arkhangelsk, Moscow, Moscow region, and Vladimir region and were analyzed according to the Grounded Theory methodology. Data analysis showed that such processes as social contagion, social pressure, social learning, and social support expand the possibilities for a transition to a family with many children. Large families exist in a specific context, formed by the intersection of social ties, which include both existing contacts (kinship, friendship, parish) and emerging contacts on the basis of public organizations (e.g., centers of children’s creativity or family associations). In addition, a large family may become a generator of social capital, reciprocity, and trust in society.
The data present fertility as a process embedded in social networks, offer a number of answers to the question “How do social networks influence fertility in large families?”, as well as identify perspectives for further research.

New Books

David Khumaryan
Nick Srnicek’s Platform Capitalism: Crisis — Response — Boom — Crisis — and Response Again. What Do We Know about the Digital Economy?
Book Review: Srnicek N. (2019) Kapitalizm platform [Platform Capitalism] (Russian transl. by Maria Dobryakova), Moscow: HSE Publishing House (in Russian). 128 pp.
P. 164–179

Nick Srnicek writes a convincing history of the modern digital economy, which has managed to develop numerous myths, hoaxes, and prescientific interpretations. Critical reconstruction of the events that preceded the birth and explosive growth of the digital technologies and products market, on the one hand, avoids their perception and understanding in the self-evident logic of the field (market), and on the other hand, provides an opportunity to perceive the future of digital capitalism. Srnicek is consistently detached from an optimistic view of the economy of the recent past and the near future. However, his argument does not involve discussions between “technopessimists” and “technoptimists,” rather Srnicek analyzes the digital economy and the model of platforms in the logic of a capitalist mode of production and a ruthless competitive race. Its intrinsic logic determines the sequence of economic agents’ actions and the possible image of the future. The crisis dynamics of capitalism of the last decades provide limited space for historical maneuvering and less and less space for political action, so any normative statements mostly lose their power. The analysis focuses on the business model of platforms from the perspective of the historical logic of capitalism aimed at seeking a new source of profitability in the condition of market exhaustion. This condition leads to a redefinition of PO the key categories of perception of the role of technologies in everyday life and in the scale of the economic system in terms of political economy.
The reviewer gives a patient exposition of the basic concepts of the book and the theses on which Srnicek’s analysis is based. The text is mainly focused on the reconstruction of the main point of the book but also appeals to an important author for Srnicek, the historian Robert Brenner. The review concludes with a modest critical commentary on the book and a call for a Russian-language discussion of the book, which has already become very influential abroad.


Shushanik Dzhangiryan
Islamic Finance. XXth April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, 09–12 April 2019, Moscow, Russia
P. 180–184

Traditionally, the XXth April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development has been organized at the Higher School of Economics. On the 11th of April 2019, Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani (Darul Uloom Krachi) made an honorary report about Islamic finance in the 21st century. The Sheikh is one of the leading experts of Islamic law, economics, and finance, and he ranks 6th in the “The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims 2019” [Schleifer 2019]. He currently leads the International Shariah Council for the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions. As a part of his speech, he touched on some aspects related to Islamic finance and its distinctive features. The report also provided an introduction to the functioning of Islamic finance. The Sheikh explained the meaning of the concept as well as its basis, referring to the principles of the Koran. Then he highlighted the main aspect related to Islamic finance—the prohibition of collecting interest. This rule applies not only to Islamic organizations and banks, but also to self-employed entrepreneurs and individuals. Among other things, the speaker touched on the role of Islamic finance during the crisis, demonstrating the positive aspects of the system for both Muslims and people of other faiths.


Rostislav Kapelyushnikov
A Rejoinder to a Contemporary Non-Economist: A Comment on a Comment
P. 185–205

The article is a rejoinder to a critical assessment of Kapeliushnikov’s study on discursive methods used by M. Weber in The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism that was provided by Ivan Zabaev in his recently published article, “A Nietzschean Take on a Hundred-Dollar Bill: Reading Weber’s ‘Protestant Ethic’: in Connection with a Contemporary Economist’s Comments.” Kapeliushnikov demonstrates that Zabaev’s attempt to view The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism as a treatise on ethics rather than as a scientific study is not justified, and that Weber himself would hardly approve such a moralistic approach. The tendency to substitute a substantive discussion for a manipulation with words is also without merit. For instance, Zabaev’s suggestion that for Weber the German words Gewinn and Erwerb had a diametrically opposite sense is quite absurd. Kapeliushnikov’s commentary pays special attention to Zabaev’s attempts to interpret Weber’s study through a lens of Nietzschean ideas. Paradoxically, this approach has led Zabaev to unequivocally anti-Weberian conclusions. In particular, this Nietzschean interpretation of a famous metaphor of “a steel shell” gets a meaning that is completely at variance with its original conception. Kapeliushnikov concludes that a traditional approach when The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism is seen as a study on economic history or historical sociology rather than as a treatise on ethics is more correct and does not engender numerous aberrations that Zabaev was not capable of avoiding.

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