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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.

2020. Vol. 21. No. 4

Full text of the journal

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

New Texts

Mikhail Sokolov, Nadezhda Sokolova
Milieus, Not Classes: Patterns of Horizontal Stratification in Urban Russia
P. 12–29

The paper describes an experiment aimed at creating a categorical and interactive stratification schema for the population a major Russian city (St. Petersburg). We used the data on friendship ties of 3200 adults to create a network of ties among occupations. We then used the Louvaine community detection algorithm to identify six clusters. The clusterization obtained distinguished between skilled manual, routine non-manual and professional occupations demonstrating that close social ties are more likely to be found within, rather than between, their boundaries. However, in contrast to Goldthorpe’s class schema, the algorithm also identified cleavages between sectors of professional occupations (pedagogical/ artistic, clerical, etc.) The boundaries between such groups of occupations are reproduced inter-generationally even in the absence of considerable economic inequality between them. We demonstrate that clusters of occupations differ in their lifestyles and consumption patterns (e.g. consumption of highbrow culture) even controlling for age, gender, and education. We interpret the clusterization as evidence of the existence of milieus confined within institutional barriers of social sectors. Such milieus, rather than classes, serve as the building blocks of social structure defined through intensity of interaction or lifestyles.

Elena Sidorova
How Different are the Models of Administrative Adjudication Across the Russian Regions? On the Example of Antitrust Cases
P. 30–69

The Russian practice of implementing the decisions of administrative authorities, including challenging them in the judicial system, provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of institutional changes on the effectiveness of legal norms. This article is aimed at describing the main features of the Russian system of contesting the decisions of administrative authorities (in this case, we consider cases of contesting indictments of an antimonopoly body); it also considers key parameters that are characteristic of Russia as a country in a transitional stage of institutional development. The analysis is based on data obtained from the Arbitration Card File of the Federal Arbitration Courts of the Russian Federation on decisions of the Russian arbitration courts of first instance with respect to contesting the decisions of the antimonopoly body on all types of charges for the period 2012–2018. For the indicated period, a sample of 14,790 decisions of arbitration courts of the first instance was formed, which covered different subjects of the Russian Federation. The considered statistics of contesting antitrust decisions of arbitration courts of the first instance demonstrate a high level of differentiation of the institution of judicial regulation regarding disputes arising from the relationship between the antimonopoly body and companies. Subsequently, such features become some of the essential parameters that determine the differences in the processes of law enforcement and the quality of the institutional environment. At the same time, significant differences in the levels of judges' workload relative to average values make it possible to determine both the insufficient and excessive composition of judges, both in general for the courts of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, and for groups of judges considering disputes arising from administrative legal relations.

New Translations

David Stark
Testing and Being Tested in Pandemic Times
P. 70–106

The coronavirus pandemic is witness to a great proliferation of two types of tests. The first type is testing —– new medical diagnostic tests as well as epidemiological models that simulate and project the course of the virus. In the second type, actors, organizations, and institutions are being tested in this moment of social and political crisis. This essay analyzes the similarities and differences between these two major types of tests in order to understand their entanglements in the crisis. In the process, we find a great diversity of tests operating in multiple registers, themselves not clearly demarcated, often combining and sometimes conflating, for example, scientific and public discourse. The study opens by identifying three aspects of testing, drawn from the sociology of testing. First, tests are frequently proxies (or projections) that stand for something. Second, a test is a critical moment that stands out – whether because it is a moment deliberately separated out or because it is a puzzling or troublesome “situation” that disrupts the flow of social life. Third, when someone or something is put to the test, of interest is whether it stands up to the challenge. These insights serve as the building blocks for addressing three major issues – representation, selection, and accountability – regarding testing in the time of the coronavirus crisis. In this moment we see a new model of testing: from statistical calculation of risk in a population to algorithmic prediction about the riskiness of particular persons.

Beyond Borders

Andrei Semenov
Arhythmic Tempo: Dynamics of Readiness to Join the Collective Actions in Russia (1996–2019)
P. 107–124

The propensity of the public to protest is a dynamic process, the direction of which determines the level of political stability. Aggregate indicators of the readiness to act collectively against declining standards of life can be used as a thermostat that indicates the level of economic grievances in society. What explains these dynamics? Do incremental changes in objective economic indicators such as inflation or unemployment matter the most, or is it the subjective evaluation of the situation in the country that drives protest attitudes? In this paper, I argue that two mechanisms link inflation and unemployment to the readiness to join economic protests: first, high levels of both indicators increase the gap between actual and desired consumption levels; second, high levels of inflation and unemployment signal the lack of governmental competence. I also argue that the subjective evaluation of the direction of the country has an independent effect on the aggregate level of readiness to join the collective actions with economic demands. Statistical analysis based on the autoregressive model with distributed lag (ADL) confirms the hypothesis of the consumer price index and unemployment’s lagged impact on the readiness to protest, while public optimism exhibits both short- and long-term effects on the protest mood. The analysis also reveals the high level of persistence in the dynamics of protest attitudes. The study contributes to the discussion on the determinants of the mobilization and significance of objective and subjective economic grievances.

New Books

Nataliya Meshcheryakova
Sticky Economy’s Social Consequences
Book review: Banerjee A. V., Duflo E. (2019) Good Economics for Hard Times: Better Answers to Our Biggest Problems, New York: Public Affairs. 432 p
P. 125–138

The book Good Economics for Hard Times: Better Answers to Our Biggest Problems is the answer of the 2019 Nobel laureates in Economics Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo to the fundamental challenges of modernity. Its pages are devoted to the questions: why do economists and other social researchers offer ineffective responses to global challenges? What are the dangers of stereotypical thinking and outdated economic schemes and theories? Why can't we rely only on the scientist's intuition? What is the power of painstaking social research based on experimental methods and careful processing of facts? Why are there no universal recipes for economic growth? Why is each national variant of socioeconomic development unique? What role do traditions and values play in these options? Why does the growth of income inequality turn into a polarization of ideologies and political positions, leading to an increase in intolerance, racism, tribalization, and so on? How do ideological approaches and populism become a distorting lens of reality? Why do the anger and despair associated with personal injuries and failures turn into anti-immigrant rhetoric and wallbuilding? Why does the idea of a universal basic income not find empirical support and what can replace it? All readers and researchers who are interested in these issues will be introduced to a large-scale, thorough study based on the generalization and analysis of a wide range of social surveys and other studies with the widest regional coverage. The authors strive to dispense with the prevailing stereotypes in science, relying only on facts and their experimental confirmation. The book is written in a very lucid literary style, with a certain amount of humor.

Alexander Subbotin
Homo Sapiens Socialis
Book review: Boyer P. (2019) Anatomiya chelovecheskikh soobshchestv. Kak soznanie opredelyaet nashe bytie [Minds Make Societies: How Cognition Explains the World Humans Create], Moscow: Alpina non-fiction (in Russian). 436 p.
P. 139–149

Homo sapiens is the greatest mystery of science. The main property of this biological species is the mind, but what are the laws of consciousness and how does ignorance of these laws hinder the development of ideas about various spheres of functioning of society? These and other relevant issues of cognitive science are tackled in the book Minds Make Societies: How Cognition Explains the World Humans Create by Pascal Boyer, a professor at the University of Washington. This work is reviewed so that potential readers can understand how convincing the author is in solving the tasks he sets—the problems of a new science, the foundations of which he intends to lay. The French-American evolutionary psychologist poses six questions: What is the basis of intergroup conflicts? Why do we need information? Why do religions exist? What is natural family? How can society be fair? Can our minds comprehend society? In answering these questions, Boyer uses a variety of facts from various disciplines of natural science and humanities. The scholar seeks to show and refute the prejudices of many prevailing concepts, for example, the traditional opposition between nature and culture, which has dominated for several centuries. The anthropologist provides a lot of fascinating data, including from personal field experience, and does so using simple language. However, in the end, most hypotheses are explained by human evolution and the need for groups to simultaneously consolidate within themselves and resist other communities. The book could be useful to anyone interested in anthropology and the structure of society, as well as laws of thought.

Conferences

Daria Lebedeva
International Workshop “The Varieties of Power in the Economy,” Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology, NRU HSE, Moscow, Russia, July 2–3, 2020
P. 150–161

The international workshop ‘The Varieties of Power in the Economy’ was held from July 3 to 4, 2020 in Moscow, Russia. The seminar was organized by the Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology (LSES) at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow. The seminar primarily aimed to initiate a discussion on power practices, modes of influence, compliance, and governance structures in the economy. The keynote speakers of the workshop were Alena Ledeneva, Professor of Politics and Society at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (University College London, UK) and Valery Yackubovich, Professor at the Management Department (SSEC Business School, France). In their lectures they shared their understanding of the topics and how they can be incorporated in various conceptual frameworks within economic sociology. Apart from LSES, the seminar engaged researchers from various research institutions, backgrounds, and traditions. Invited speakers included Elena Bogdanova (University of Gothenburg), Tamara Kusimova (Central European University), Aleksei Pobedonostsev (The European University Institute in Florence), Olga Sidenko (Voronezh State University), Daria Shcheglova (HSE University—Institute of Education), Maria Tysiachniouk (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Ulla Paper, Stanislav Klimovich, and Katharina Bluhm (Freie Universität Berlin), and Maya Shmidt (Uppsala University). The researchers took a closer look at their academic fields and identified the issues of power practices, forms of influence, and control in economic exchange. By examining completely different social spheres and institutional fields, the participants discussed the ambivalence of power and the variety of power relations and practices in the economy.

Supplements (in English)

Polina Zhidkova
Types of Financial Disagreements in Families: Qualitative Evidence from Russia
P. 162–181

Financial disagreements have been previously identified in the literature as the main predictor of divorce in families as well as the most difficult and prolonged type of disagreement among spouses. However, the topic of financial conflicts between spouses remains undertheorized and has been insufficiently studied empirically in Russia. This study attempts to fill this gap in answering the question of how financial disagreements in families can be classified. To resolve this research problem, 35 Russian married or cohabiting couples were interviewed. In-depth interviews were conducted with each of the partners separately to determine their positions and compare their views within the couple. The results show that financial disagreements are normalized phenomena in the life course of Russian couples. However, the issue seems to be very sensitive, and the qualitative methodology allowed for the detection that partners may feel embarrassed and stressed while discussing the reasons for financial conflicts. Nevertheless, five types of financial disagreements were identified based on their underlying reasons: price conflicts, conflicts about necessity, conflicts of goals, conflicts due to a lack of planning, and conflicts of values. The last type seems to be one of the most difficult and unpleasant types of family conflicts, as it shows that partners hold different and often incompatible positions regarding the family’s finances. This result highlights the importance of using a relational sociology approach while studying marital financial disagreements. Also, the identified typology can serve as a guide for studying financial conflicts in families more deeply and for family therapy and divorce prevention.

 
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