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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.

2021. Vol. 22. No. 3

Full text of the journal

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

New Texts

Daniil Sitkevich
Effects of Modernization on Social Capital: Evidence from Dagestan
P. 11–38

The paper scrutinizes the differences between the traditional and modernistic social groups of Dagestan, Russia—a region in the south of Russia that is only now undergoing the process of modernization. As an important factor in economic development in developed countries, social capital and trust often have a negative impact on the level of well-being in traditional communities. The research, based on a sociological survey of residents of the Republic of Dagestan, shows that this pattern is due to the fact that in traditional society, the radius of trust (which is one of the most important components of social capital) extends only to the immediate environment. This is why social capital in such communities produces lower returns. Moreover, using variables associated with the process of breaking traditional norms (residence and birth in the city, modernist religious beliefs, importance of free time, and desire to educate children in self-expression values and foster values of obedience), this article argues that the modernization process leads to the destruction of closed social capital, expressed in the decline of trust in relatives, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and representatives of the same nationality. At the same time, the transformation of traditional norms has a different effect on open social capital—having more modernistic values is positively linked to generalized trust, while being a part of modernistic social groups demonstrates a negative link. The results enable us to conclude that the high level of social capital recorded in other studies in the North Caucasus (and in Dagestan, in particular) is actually associated with a high level of trust in the surrounding environment and is not as productive as in other regions.

Elena Gasiukova, Anastasia Petrova
The Subjective Perception of Employment Instability: Is It Bad to Be Unstable?
P. 39–70

Nowadays in the literature, there are two perspectives on the spread of atypical labor contracts and unstable employment trajectories: some authors insist on the vulnerability of modern employees and the weakening of their bargaining position; others emphasize new opportunities for flexibility and independence from the employer. However, it remains unclear how employees react to these new employment conditions. Is instability a benefit or a sign of vulnerability for them? This discussion is most relevant for skilled young workers, as freedom and flexibility are of great value to them. The authors make an attempt to discover which position is closer to unstable workers in Russia. The Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey—Higher School of Economics (RLMS-HSE) data for 2014–2018 were used for the analysis. The panel data was used to construct the variable of instability in the labor market, taking into account the previous working status of the respondents (the sample size was 1,507 respondents).
The main method of analysis was linear regression. The dependent variables were the components of subjective well-being, and the explanatory variable was the status of employment instability. The results show that employment instability is not related to respondents’ subjective well-being, nor to job insecurity. No differences in the subjective assessments of stable and unstable employees with different skills and income levels were found. The findings allow us to state that employment instability is not perceived by Russian employees as a distinct situation in the labor market, or as referring to negative or positive type of work or social position of an individual.

New Translations

David Stark, Ivana Pais
Algorithmic Management in the Platform Economy
P. 71–103

The platform model is the distinguishing organizational form of the early decades of the twenty-first century. Whereas actors in markets contract, hierarchies command, and networks collaborate, platforms co-opt assets, resources, and activities that are not part of the firm. As a distinctive organizational form, the platform model confronts a distinctive managerial challenge: how to manage value-creating activities that are undertaken on the platform but not in the firm? In a triangular geometry, platform owners co-opt the behavior of providers and users, enrolling them in the practices of algorithmic management without managerial authority having been delegated to them. Acting on their own behalf, the ratings and other activities of providers and consumers are algorithmically translated into rankings and other calculating devices that circulate through feedback loops that are twisted rather than circular. Algorithmic management involves a peculiar kind of cybernetic control because at each fold of the feedback loop accountability can be deflected and denied. Whereas Scientific Management in the early twentieth century offered a legitimating principle for the growth of a new managerial class, algorithmic management in the early twenty-first century is reshaping the managerial class. Its power asymmetries at the organizational level are related to coalitions at the regulatory level in which platform owner and investors are in alliance with platform consumers.

Beyond Borders

Nadezda Krasilnikova
Flexible Commuting Patterns by Current Residents of Chelyabinsk
P. 104–128

Digitization is changing the organization of work. Work is becoming independent of time and place, which affects changes in mobility patterns. This article explores the commuting patterns of current residents of Soviet-designed industrial cities with strictly delineated contours of practice and commuting patterns. Using a case study of the city of Chelyabinsk, this study proposes a typology of residential mobility patterns that varies in relation to employment. For this purpose, Hägerstrand’s theory of the temporal and spatial constraints of mobility was used. By analyzing quantitative data collected in February 2020 through a standardized street survey, three types of commuting patterns were identified: “flexible,” “temporally flexible,” and “regular.” Each type of pattern is described by quantitative characteristics, such as employment sector, form of employment, and place of residence. This study extends the understanding of what commuting patterns in current Russian cities might look like. It demonstrates the dominance of the “temporally flexible” commuting patterns of residents of Chelyabinsk, designed as an industrial center with regular commuting patterns. While the stufy does not provide a certain depth of analysis, it can be taken as a starting point in understanding individual mobility patterns in Russian cities. The results of the study may be of interest to researchers on work and urban mobility, as well as to city planners and policy makers on social and transport issues.

Professional Reviews

Yana Roshchina, Valeriia Kondratenko
Can We Explain Differences in Patterns of Alcohol Consumption? Review of Theoretical Approaches
P. 129–157

Alcohol is an important part of the culture of many people, and the patterns of its consumption differ according to the types of drinks people drink, in what circumstances they drink, what kind of meaning drinking offers them, etc. In this article, we decided to classify publications on differences in drinking patterns based on a dominant idea. We highlight the criteria for identifying such patterns: quantitative (depending on the volume and frequency of consumption) and qualitative (depending on the chosen drinks, circumstances, and motives for use). The quantitative criteria make it possible to identify frequently used patterns, such as episodic alcohol consumption in large quantities, binge drinking, sporadic drinking, and light and heavy drinking. Within the framework of the qualitative criteria, Northern, Southern, and Central European types are often distinguished. The emphasis on consumption motives reveals four patterns: reinforcement, coping, conformity, and community. However, researchers tend to understand what explains the differences in consumption patterns. Therefore, in the second part of the article, we turn to the systematization of such explanations based on cultural-anthropological, historical, and structural approaches.
In the last part of our article, we show that the approaches we have identified allow us to explain the features of alcohol consumption patterns in Russia and their changes over the past several decades. It can be concluded that the most productive way of analyzing alcohol consumption is the complex application of the approaches we have considered—the identification of patterns based on various criteria and the explanation of their choice by different highlighted approaches.

New Books

Daria Asaturian
The End of Bureaucracy? New Organizational Forms, Social Media, and Millennials
Book Review: Turco C. J. (2016) The Conversational Firm: Rethinking Bureaucracy in the Age of Social Media. New York: Columbia University Press. 253 p
P. 158–169

In recent years, Silicon Valley startups have become some of the most successful corporations in the world. They advance the abandonment of bureaucratic control of employees, for example, they do not keep track of what time employees come to work or what they are wearing, and instead delegate decision-making rights to employees and are attentive to their opinions. But what happens behind the closed doors of those companies promoting such openness and the overthrow of the hierarchy and bureaucratic rules? How and by whom are they controlled? The book by Catherine J. Turco (2016) shows how corporate communication, culture, and control actually work in a company run by millennials reared on social media. During her ethnographic research, Turco describes how a new organizational form she calls a “conversational firm” has arisen and succeeded in solving business problems due to cross-hierarchical communication. One of Turko’s main findings is that subverting the hierarchical control of communication does not mean the hierarchical structure of decision making must fall as well. Thus, employees may prefer some bureaucratic practices and insist on them.

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