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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.

2023. Vol. 24. No. 2

Full text of the journal

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

New Texts

Anita Poplavskaya
The Value of Work for Russian University Students: The Logic of Justifying the Choice in Favor of Personal Gain or Social Utility
P. 11–48

This article is aimed at theoretical interpretation of the value concept in economy, reconsideration of the traditional dichotomy of work values as well as at providing the empirical evidence of this new approach validity. It is common to distinguish between internal work values, which are mainly described as an interest in the content of tasks and the autonomy of their performance, and external ones, associated with the desire to get high salaries and achieve other benefits, exogenous to the work itself. However, a broad theoretical analysis of the value concept in the labor sphere, supported by the overview of the monographs by economists D. Throsby, M. Mazzucato, anthropologist D. Graeber and the works of economic sociologists, appeals to focus on the dichotomy of opportunities for obtaining high earnings or social utility by the employee involvement in work as well as the problem of reverse causality between these characteristics of work under the conditions of modern capitalist economy.
The data was collected in December 2021 and included 38 interviews with students and graduates of Russian universities aged 18–24 years. The empirical part begins with an analysis of the value conflict that arises while making choice between individually beneficial and socially useful areas of employment. The desire to pursue purely personal interests in the sphere of paid employment matches with the market logic of choosing a future profession, analysis of supply and demand in specific areas of employment, clear ideas about the desired level of income as well as expansive self-development strategies based on expert advice and including multiple employment, frequent change of employers and firms, desire to devote time to individual “operational activities” as a means to develop hard skills. Orientation towards social utility includes a setting for long-term and gradual self-development within the professional sphere, its conscious choice as a “vocation”, a nonpossessive attitude towards money received for work, an active desire to achieve higher levels of professional knowledge and skills as well as plans to acquire socially recognized status in the future. It was also revealed that the orientation towards social utility is justified by domestic logic, rooted in the system of parental or own family relations, and has a gender specificity. It was reflected in the author`s concept of the anchors of utilityoriented approach to work.

New Translations

Harm de Blij
The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny, and Globalization’s Rough Landscape (excerpt)
P. 49–68

Numerous books and articles published in recent years argue that the human world today is so mobile, so interconnected, and so integrative that it is, in one prominent and much-repeated assessment, “flat.” Ancient and durable obstacles are no more, interaction is global, free trade rules the globe, migration is ubiquitous, and the flow of ideas (and money and jobs) is so pervasive that geography, in the perspective of more than one observer, “is history.” The notion that place continues to play a key role in shaping humanity’s still-variegated mosaic is seen as obsolete.
This book ranges over natural as well as cultural landscapes to assess the role of place in enabling as well as obstructing the world’s march toward integration, mobility, and interconnection. For all the liberating changes that have already occurred, place of birth still has a powerful influence over the destinies of billions. For all our heralded mobility, the overwhelming majority of us will die relatively close to the place where we were born. For all the “flattening” perceived and relished by globals, the world still is dauntingly rough terrain for many more locals. From personal safety to public health, from compulsory religion to coercive authority, the world remains a mosaic of places presenting widely varying combinations of challenges to their inhabitants. What makes this power of place and how it can be mitigated are the interlocked themes of the discussion that follows.
Journal of Economic Sociology publishes the first chapter “Globals, Locals, and Mobals,” in which the author considers the opposition of “locals” and “globals”, explains the motivation of “mobals,” and also argues why geography and “place” are still important concepts for understanding the modern world.

Beyond Borders

Olga Urban
Non-Jural Labor Practices at Kuzbass Coal Enterprises: The Experience of Sociological Analysis Within the Historical Context
P. 69–108

Kuzbass is the largest coal mining region in Russia. Ensuring safety and labor protection is a priority area in the activities of coal enterprises and the regional government. Safety problems are significantly subjective. The accident at the Listvyazhnaya mine in November 2021 revealed safety problems in violation of regulatory requirements in everyday work. The purpose of the article is to assess the scale and causes of labor practices that violate the legal rights and obligations of the parties involved in labor relations to ensure safe work and health protection in coal mining processes. The concept of non-jural labor practices coined by T. Zaslavskaya and M. Shabanova provided a conceptual basis for the understanding of labor relations as a set of labor practices at regional coal enterprises viewed from a historical perspective.
Drawing on the evidence from the scientific literature and the media, the data from sociological investigations, the state and departmental statistics, the author analyzes the non-jural labor practices at Kuzbass coal enterprises from the beginning of the restructurings in the coal industry until now. The article argues that breaking the rules and ignoring socio-cultural norms that prioritize human life and health values have been institutionalized as a set of non-jural labor practices since the early 1990s and are well established nowadays. The recommended standards of labor relations are contradicted by the everyday management and existing labor practices. It is clear that the institutionalization of non-jural labor practices is caused by the management and employees. The key factors are focused on motivating owners and management to increase coal production and profit. Improper labor practices, deteriorating the quality of human capital, create institutional obstacles to the current and future objectives of innovative development of the coal industry and the purposes of the Kuzbass–2035 regional strategy. The main directions to overcome the effects of non-jural labor practices are outlined.

Professional Reviews

Ilya Konovalov
Labour Process Theory: From Taylorism to Algorithmic Management
P. 109–167

This article provides an overview of the conceptual development of Labor Process Theory, from Braverman’s classic work to contemporary research dedicated to platform work. The article examines the theory’s conceptual framework: the concept of labor and its indeterminacy, the fundamental structural contradiction of the antagonism between capital and labor, and technology as an expression of this contradiction.
The article discusses the four main branches of the labor process theory: the control/resistance paradigm, the theory of consent and hegemony, a postmodern approach, and paleo-Marxism. By doing so, it maps the development of the theory and its concepts. In addition to providing a general overview, this article offers an original interpretation of the labor process theory, which emphasizes the significance of knowledge in the labour process. This interpretation clarifies why the theory has become relevant again in the analysis of platform work and why it is potentially the most adequate framework for such analysis.
The article argues that control over labor in the labour process theory can be understood in two ways: as control over specific technical work operations or as control over knowledge within the production process and access to the totality of production. The article looks at studies of platform work that use labour process theory and focus on information asymmetry as a way of control. It demonstrates that the relationship between classic labor process theory and platform economy research could be based on this second interpretation. We argue that the labor process theory can become the foundation that conceptually unites research of various types of platform work and allows for the description of elements of platform work outside the framework of platform employment.

New Books

Viktor Ledenev
Social Сapital of Organized Crime
Book Review: Galeotti M. 2019. Vory. Istoriya organizovannoy prestupnosti v Rossii [The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia], Moscow: Individuum (in Russian). 448 p.
P. 168–180

This review is dedicated to the analysis of the Russian translation (2019) of Mark Galeotti’s book The Vory’s. Russia’s Super Mafia (2018). The book addresses the historical background and current development of organized crime in Russia. Galeotti rejects to subject his material to any specific sociological theory and uses instead the descriptive language of economics. This review seeks to find a relevant theoretical context for Galeotti’s study of crime and criminality in Russia. The review consists of four parts. The first part provides general overview of the book. The second part explores the concept of criminality in its opposition to the state as an agent of legal violence. According to Galeotti’s, Russian criminals have lost the competition but have not ceased to exist. The third and the fourth parts discuss several hypotheses why criminality persist in Russia. In the third part the persistence of criminality is explained with the wide range of resources which include not only violence but social capital resulted from fitting structural holes. Having essentially lost an opportunity to convert violence into income, organized crime had to switch to the role of a mediator between demand and supply for illegal goods and services. In the fourth part of the review the persistence of criminality is explained by decentralization. The network closure around a leader can be seen as a factor of an effective concentration of resources. However, in the context of the competition between violent entrepreneurs, centralization becomes problematic since it hinders the diversification of syndicate’s resources, including its social capital, and makes it harder to act covertly.

Supplements (in English)

Alina Pishnyak, Natalia Khalina, Elena Nazarbaeva
The Paths from Middle Class: Evaluation of the Poverty Risks for the Russian Middle Class
P. 181–202

The middle class is usually perceived as a main supporter of innovations, source of political stability, and core consumer of goods and services. As a result, its members are traditionally supposed to have high human potential and make a significant contribution to economic growth both in certain country and all over the world, which permanently generates great interest in the issues concerning middle class. However, the main research questions have changed significantly over the last years. The experts both in Russia and abroad highlight the factors that negatively influence the position of the middle class. These are changes in labor market, price growth that outruns the growth of income, increase of tax burden and problems with access to public goods.
During COVID-19 pandemic the income has fallen, the risks of unemployment have increased, and the costs of healthcare also have grown. The scholars in different countries underline similar tendencies: middle-class members, who already had to live in an ambiguous world, faced the risks of falling into poverty during the corona crisis.
Using data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitor Survey, we evaluate the tracks of middle-class families during 2014-2020 and demonstrate that the problem of poverty affects a part of this social stratum every year. But the share of middleclass members with the income below the poverty line is relatively low and remains largely unaffected by the current corona crisis.

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