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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.

2022. Vol. 23. No. 2

Full text of the journal

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

New Texts

Natalya Ryzhova, Tatyana Zhuravskaya
The Role of Social Media in the Adaptation of Russians Working in Precarious Labour Markets in Korea and China
P. 11–35

How do migrants use social media to adapt to new social conditions, including those in the labour market? Does it matter which social media and how many of them are available for migrants? Answering these questions, we focus on particular social groups—Russian citizens engaged in precarious work in China and South Korea. These labour market segments have hardly been described in the academic literature, mainly because such migrant flows are not observable in the receiving or sending country. As a rule, these people do not have legal migration status (they do not have work permits, long-term residence permits, insurance, and other necessary documents). We aim to compare two situations—the Korean one, where different social media (WhatsApp, VK, Viber, and others) are available to migrants, and the Chinese one, where WeChat dominates, and hence, in so doing to understand what happens in the context of one dominant media. In addition to analyzing work requests and job vacancies published in social media (WeChat, VK, Telegram, WhatsApp), we use in-depth interviews with precarious workers (23 interviews obtained in China and 31 in Korea).

New Translations

Danny Dorling, S. Gitel-Basten
Why Demography Matters (excerpt)
P. 36–64

Demography is not destiny. As Giacomo Casanova explained over two centuries ago: ‘There is no such thing as destiny. We ourselves shape our own lives.’ Today we are shaping them and our societies more than ever before. Globally, we have never had fewer children per adult: our population is about to stabilize, though we do not know when or at what number, or what will happen after that. It will be the result of billions of very private decisions influenced in turn by multiple events and policies, some more unpredictable than others. More people are moving further around the world than ever before: we too often see that as frightening, rather than as indicating greater freedom. Similarly, we too often lament greater ageing, rather than recognizing it as a tremendous human achievement with numerous benefits to which we must adapt. The Journal of Economic Sociology publishes the chapter eight “Population and Politics,” where the authors discuss the political demography. Here they address eugenics, in both its historical and contemporary manifestations, and then look again at migration and past fertility patterns that may influence it.

Debut Studies

Kristina Galitsina, Polina Kalinovskaya, Olga Khvorostianova
Online Dating: Market or Bazaar? The Marriage Partner Search Process on an Orthodox Dating Site
P. 65–90

According to a number of researchers, in view of the marketization of culture, the processes of searching for and choosing a romantic partner have taken on the characteristics of a market which becomes especially apparent in case of online dating platforms [Heino Ellison, Gibbs 2010; Schmitz 2017]. The logic of religious dating platforms, where the proclaimed goal is to find a spouse once and for good, may conflict with the market integration logic of a platform itself. In this study, based on the in-depth semi-structured interviews with 18-35-year-old Orthodox online dating platform users from Moscow and the Moscow region, the objective is to identify the form of integration that is suitable for describing the search for a couple on this site. Firstly, the search for a partner is studied through G. Akerlof's perspective as search on the market so that the website’s questionnaire and photos are treated as institutional mechanisms used to tackle the problem of imperfect information and the quality uncertainty. Secondly, the search process in hand is considered as a bazaar in line with C. Geertz’s argument where messaging is bargaining, and users, motivated by the desire to find a soulmate, aim at clientelization. Finally, the authors infer that the bazaar perspective is more relevant for describing the search process in the considered case. In conclusion, the market angle itself is problematized, and attention is also paid to the functioning of the platforms in general.

Professional Reviews

Anastasia Kazun
Conspiracy Thinking: Concept, Measurement and Factors
P. 91–117

The article provides an overview of the literature on conspiracy thinking. Although there is no consensus on the definition of this concept, as a rule, researchers pay attention to the following similar aspects: belief in secret and covert actions, a group of interested persons influencing world processes or hiding information about something, the false or implausible nature of conspiracy theories. There are two fundamentally different approaches to measuring conspiracy thinking: (1) in terms of agreement with several real conspiracy theories, (2) in general terms, without reference to specific conspiracy theories. Each of these approaches has serious limitations, both specific (for example, the arbitrariness of the choice of conspiracy theories for the first approach and the lack of one-dimensionality of the scales for the second), and general (the difficulty of using the scales in comparative international studies). The article provides examples of scales that correspond to each of the approaches. Factors influencing belief in conspiracy theories can be divided into psychological and social. Conspiracy beliefs are more common in people with high anxiety, low self-esteem and less developed analytical skills. In addition, conspiracy theories are more often believed by people with low social status and educational level, low level of generalized and political trust, belonging to the ends of the ideological spectrum, and consuming information from glossy magazines and social networks. The role of age and religiosity is less straightforward.

New Books

Alexander Chepurenko
“3D-model” of the Russian Economy
Book Review: Dolgopyatova T. G., Akindinova N. V., Simachev Y. V., Yakovlev A. A. (eds) (2021) Otvet rossiyskogo biznesa na pandemiyu COVID-19 (na primere shesti otraslevykh keysov) [The Russian Business Response on the COVID-19 Pandemic (On the Base of six Branch Cases)], Moscow: HSE Publishing House (in Russian)
P. 118–128

The review considers the results of a study implemented in 2020—early 2021, and reflected in the presented collective monograph. It is shown that the applied approach (macroeconomic analysis in combination with the mezzo-level analysis of each of the industries and at the level of individual firms) enabled showing an ambiguous reaction to the pandemic of different companies and the new risks and opportunities associated with it in six sectors of the Russian economy, and in the global context of the development of the relevant sectors in the world economy. In particular, the trends of the previous development, as well as the situation in the first period of the pandemic and after the initial recovery, as well as possible trajectories of further development in retail trade, IT, the tourism sector, pharmaceutical production, automotive industry and the chemical industry are considered.
The resulting picture allows us to better understand both the opportunities and limitations of further development, as well as the challenges and possible junctions the Russian state policy is facing. In the book they are presented as follows: (1) the further increase in the already high internal and interregional divergence (regarding the technological development, productivity, profitability, etc.) in sectors with vertical coordination; (2) the further digitalization, which in sectors with developed horizontal ties will entail updating business models and formats; (3) the increased role of intangible assets of companies (knowledge, skills), growing competition both within and between industries for human capital; (4) health, safety, nutrition, and entertainment will become the core drivers of the economy.
In conclusion, critical remarks are formulated: underestimation of the specifics of the pandemic as an extraeconomic shock, in comparison with typical economic crises (and models for overcoming them); the need to analyze the general trends in the global and Russian economies in the context of the downward wave of the current long economic cycle; compositional difficulties of the monograph.

Tatiana Martynenko
Digital Utopia: Labour in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
Book Review: Jones Ph. (2021) Work Without the Worker: Labour in the Age of Platform Capitalism, London, New York: Verso. 144 p
P. 129–140

In recent years, we have been hearing more about the growing capabilities of artificial intelligence technologies, which are invisibly but surely being introduced into our lives in all its manifestations. Will these technologies revolutionize work? Can the digital utopia be realized? British researcher Phil Jones tries to answer these and many other questions in his book Work Without the Worker: Labour in the Age of Platform Capitalism. Jones invites the reader to look at the reverse and very unsightly side of the digital utopia. The focus of the research is microwork, realized in the form of the so-called “human intelligence task” (HIT) or “artificial artificial intelligence” (AAI). The purpose of the book is to show that it is the poorly paid and mentally destructive tasks performed by humans that make our digital lives more convenient and understandable, and not the functioning of artificial intelligence algorithms. The author analyzes the work of the “Mechanical Turk” service employees and its negative consequences, for example, the lack of guaranteed work and its payment, alienation, and an increasing number of psychological problems.
The review presents the key provisions of the book: it describes the specifics of the MTurk service and the reasons for the author’s interest in this platform. It reveals Jones’s understanding of the term “microwork”, its main characteristics, and features of work, considers the factors that make it difficult to protest in the age of platform capitalism, outlines new utopia, and contains some critical remarks. The conclusion is that Jones’s book can be recommended reading for anyone interested in labour issues in the contemporary world.

Supplements (in English)

Samantha King
Interview with Samantha King
Medicinal Capitalism: Beyond Cancer, Health, Pain and Meat
P. 141–146

The interview with professor Samantha King, the author of the famous Pink Ribbons, Inc: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), reveals her current studies within the field of cultural politics of health, sport and the body. Samantha introduces her research group in Queen’s University that critically looks at the healthification of market and political processes when social control, inequality and power asymmetry are pursued under the super value of health. She describes how her team uses the genealogical method by M. Foucault to reconstruct the dynamics of historical, ideological, economic, social agendas that shape local judgments about fruitful cultural frames for corporate charity, medicalized performance in professional sport, and painkiller use by people from different social classes. King’s Group studies criticize discourses about individual responsibility and good citizenship as those that may welcome getting pills into bodies instead of transforming the economic and social contexts out of which the disease arises. In the interview, Samantha traces the changes in anti-cancer philanthropy in recent years, comments on the political struggles behind the COVID-19 pandemic and points to the the hidden layers of the protein supplements market challenged by the post-humanistic ban on eating animals, emerging laboratory-meat supply, and ecological concern. The interview with Samantha King as well as her scientific articles will be useful for those who reflect on the incorporation of the human body and subjectivity into capitalistic production in different geopolitical realms.

Kseniia Adamovich
Conceptual Approaches to the Study of Spatial Inequality: the Case of Russian Education
P. 147–161

In Russia, the sheer size of the country and the diversity of its socio-demographic and economic contexts are factors that greatly shape educational outcomes and student opportunities. Current research on the spatial context of educational inequality is insufficient. There is a risk of underestimation of importance of spatial differences and the challenges they create for researchers and policymakers in the field of education. The purpose of this work is to analyze the existing conceptual approaches to the study of spatial inequality in Russian education.
This paper present two conceptual approaches to understanding spatial inequality, and, respectively, two different answers to the question of whether socio-economic differences between territories is the main factor in educational inequality. Much of the existing research on educational inequality in Russia follows the spirit, if not the letter, of “geography of opportunity,” in which spatial inequality is the geographic dimension of social segregation. This approach implies that due to the historically uneven distribution of economic capital in space, geography is becoming a significant factor that limits students’ opportunities in terms of access to educational resources, choice of trajectory and educational achievement. However, this does not take into account the more complex social hierarchy of space, which is described in the works of Bourdieu and his followers. This second approach opens up prospects for studying the symbolic status of space, as well as the spatial capital of individuals, organizations, and the territories themselves.
The approaches described in this article introduce new opportunities for educational researchers and pose a number of challenges for educational policy in Russia. This paper also shows the possibilities of operationalizing these concepts for transferring them to the field of education.

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