Sociology Mind
2012. Vol.2, No.2, 231-234
Published Online April 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 231
On Experience in Measuring the Consolidation of
Modern Russian Society
Vyacheslav V. Lokosov1, Vladimir L. Schultz1, Vladimir V. Ulyanov2
1Institute of Socio-Political Research of Russia n A c a d emy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
2Faculty of Computational M athematics and Cybernetics, Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
Received December 3rd, 2011; revised January 6th, 2012; accepte d February 9th, 2012
One of the main reasons for prolongation of the crisis of contemporary Russian society is a profound so-
cial disconnection, alienation of the leading segments of the society. The social consolidation is consid-
ered as a fundamental basis to overcome the crisis and to form the civil society and the Russian civil (po-
litical) nation. We suggest how the consolidation of Russian society could be measured applying the tra-
ditional understanding of the empirical material as semantic space. The empirical data consist from three
all-Russian surveys carried out in 2007, 2009 and 2011. According to our analysis the level of consolida-
tion of Russian society decreased in last two years. The respondents with middle and high income are
most focused on the consolidation. We describe the profile of the consolidators and allocate the features
that can be used to unite most of the population of all age groups and income levels. The social and po-
litical stability of Russian society depends on the direction in which the consolidation develops.
Keywords: Social Consolidation; Factors of Consolidation; Level of Consolidation; Indicative
Measurements; Social Groups; Social Changes; Social and Political Stability
Conceptual Justification
The modern Russian society as the social system continues to
gravitate to chaotic forms of reproduction and keeps a marginal
social structure. One of the major reasons of prolongation and
simultaneously a consequence of system crisis of the Russian
society is deep social separation and alienation of its leading
segments. A fragmented society, suffering from a “social en-
tropy” and social anomy, is not able to increase its energy ca-
pacity, to mobilize itself and to take other actions needed for
the effective development and fin ding adequate responses to the
growing external challenges and internal threats (Danilov, 1998;
Held et al., 1999; Osipov, 2007). After the neo-liberal “shock
therapy” in 90 s it is necessary for Russia to pass through the
stage of consolidation in order to transform the country into a
new integrity. Therefore, social consolidation is seen as a fun-
damental basis for the development of the modern Russian
society and as a tool of social technology to form the civil soci-
ety and the Russian civil (political) nation (Schmitter, 1996;
Lokosov & Schultz, 2008).
The concept of “consolidation” combines two main semantic
notion, which constitute the essence of attempts to fuse macro-
objective and micro-subjective approaches to the description
and explanation of social reality: the value of the objective
integration of various structures of social system and subjective
solidarity of people in their everyday life. Moreover, in this
term there are no those connotations which direct at the Soviet
ideological clichés about moral and political unity and social
uniformity of a society.
Methodical Scheme of the Analysis of the
Empirical Material
On t he empi rical level, con solidation i s defined as the pot en t ia l
of association and self-organization of citizens, close to each
other with respect to their attitudes, motivations, principles and
beliefs. The consolidation potential is formed at the expense of
the general “social conceptions” (Moscovici, 1984), i.e. con-
cerning the steady, structured sets of images, attitudes, orienta-
tions of a respondent to socially significant phenomena, events,
tendencies. Therefore, the personal attitudes, motivations and
values of the respondents were analyzed as an empirical mate-
rial for an explanation and understanding of
1) The bases of potential for social consolidation and its volume;
2) The objective trends of the changes in consolidation proc-
ess of the modern Russian society;
3) The social conditions of a civil society formation and other
social transformations connected with consolidation process.
We agree with the generally accepted position that strength-
ening the common identities of the population, spreading the
attitudes, motivations, values and socio-psychological patterns
shared by the majority are the indicators of the increasing of the
consolidation in the society.
Our analysis is based on the traditional understanding of the
empirical material as semantic space, i.e. the spatial-coordinate
model of an individual or group system of attitudes. The se-
mantic space is determined by two orthogonal axes, obtained as
a result of factor analysis of indicators (Doctorov, 1994;
Lokosov, 2011). The vertical axis reflects objective-institu-
tional structure of a society. It has two poles: the north—“le-
gitimation of social system” and the south—“alienation from
social system”. Interpretation of a horizontal axis reflects a
subjective-individual attitude in the society. In the west end of
the axis we have “asocial outlook”, i.e. a set of attitudes of
people who place themselves outside of society (“when every-
one wants to act according to his own advantages all together
will come to a result which is unfavorable to the society”
(Kozlowski, 1998); in the east—“inter-social outlook”, i.e. a set
of attitudes of people focused on social interaction and coop-
In the research we used data from three all-Russian surveys
carried out in 2007, 2009 and 2011. They included approxi-
mately 7000, 2000 and 1500 randomly selected adults (18+)
respectively from all federal districts. The questionnaires of the
surveys with more than 50 questions (approximately 170 sub
questions) were almost identical. They were completed in face-
to-face interviews. The samples were stratified random samples
with stratification according to gender, age and place of residence.
As leading features of consolidation we allocate:
The social-collectivist value orientations in the majority of
the population;
The legitimation of the existing social order, the rejection of
radical ways to change existing society;
Existence of goals, interests, and values, which are shared
by the majority of Russians, the patriotism of the majority;
The localization of the social interests on the local level, in
daily challenges;
Increase of social activity and withdrawal from the pater-
nalistic sentiments, if one understands by them the pas-
sive-dependent expectation of his own well-being.
The characteristics of dissolidation are the following:
Social and political inequality, low levels of satisfaction with
the quality of life for most people, a huge gap in income
Alienation from the political system, lack of fairness in
social system, lack of confidence in the leading social and
political institutions;
An identity crisis, including a low level of civil identity;
Lack of a legitimate state ideology, ambitious socio-eco-
nomic mega-projects that provide social system with strate-
gic target dimension and form the so-called common cause;
Inefficiency of the existing system of social management,
non-motivation of Russian elite, formed for the task of dis-
mantling the Soviet system, to be constructive, creative and
Construction and Analysis of Typological Groups
One of the main considered typological groups is a set of
so-called ideal or pure respondent-consolidators. We suggest
measuring a level of consolidation in the modern Russian soci-
ety in terms of a consolidator fraction. A respondent is called
consolidator if he shares the following five features:
Preference of reforms and refusal of radical changes of
social system;
Trust in political institutions;
The value orientation to social interaction and to coopera-
tion between people;
Civil identity;
Social activity and readiness to protect his own interests.
The first two characteristics correspond to northern vector of
semantic space—legitimation of the social system. Three last
features reflect the east vector—inter-social attitude.
We require that the consolidator possesses all five character-
istics. By this reason the consolidator fraction in the sample and
therefore in the whole population is not large. At the same time
study of the consolidators helps to solve two problems. First, it
shows a change in the social “core” of the consolidation process
in time. Secondly, it allows to analyze the social composition of
respondents-consolidators and their profile in terms of other
indicators included in questionnaires. The size of ideal group of
consolidators decreased recently (see Figure 1): in 2007 it was
equal to 10,8% of the whole sample, in 2009—12.6% and in
2011—5.9% with standard errors (standard deviation divided
by the square root of the sample size) equal to 0.4%, 0.7% and
0.6% respectively. The corresponding P-values (independent
sample t-test with non-constant variance) for the results for
pairs of years 2007-2009 and 2009-2011 equal to 0.030 and
0.000 respectively. Therefore we see that in 2007-2009 the
level of consolidation of the Russian society grew slightly. But
two years later it decreased significantly. It is quite possible
that because of crisis in finance and economy in 2009, the fac-
tors connected with dissolidation started to play the leading role
(Gorshkov, 2010). In the semantic space we watch the change
of vector from the desired north-east direction to south-west
what corresponds to disintegration of the society. From meth-
odological point of view the changes can be explained
By the decline in trust of respondents to the political institu-
tions, including the decreased confidence in the activities of
the president and the government;
By strengthening of the skeptical perception of the existing
By weakening of the civil identity and the self-identification
relatively to place of residence.
At the same ti me it has been increased the frac tion of the re-
spondents who prefer to choose “do not know” alternative. For
example, the percentage of the respondents who refused to
assess the state of interethnic relations increased from 7% in
2007 to 21% in 2011. For inter-confessional relations we have
11% and 24% respectfully. Moreover, simultaneously we get
corresponding decline in fraction of the respondents who assess
the relations as normal or benevolent. Respondents with aver-
age and high level of income (on self-assessment of this level
on a scale of buying opportunities) are mostly oriented to con-
solidation (see Table 1).
Analysis of the group of consolidators shows that in the
modern Russian society the propensity for consolidation is
shown, first of all, by the people having middle or high level of
incomes. It can be explained by the fact that they are better
adapted for new social realities, more focused on legitimation
of existing social system and more socially active. For example,
Source: Institute of Socio-Political Research o f Russian Ac ademy of Sciences.
Figure 1.
Change of Consolidator fraction in Russia among adults 18+, 2007—
10.8%, 2009—12.6%, 2011—5. 9%.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Table 1.
Distribution of respondents according to income level, in percents of
the respondents in the whole sample and in the group of consolidators
(Russian Federation, survey of 2011 among adults 18+).
Income level Sample Consolidators
High (enou gh money to buy an apartment or a car) 10 13
Middle (enough money to buy consumer durables,
or just on housing, food and clothing) 58 69
Low (money, at best, only enough to buy food and
clothing) 32 18
the readiness to protect their interests showed 77% of the re-
spondents with high income and only 47% of the group with
the lowest income. People with high income are consolidated to
a greater extent within their own group as well. Therefore, one
can conclude that the society is rather consolidated when its
members are socially active and rely on themselves mainly. In
other words, the individualization of the society in the new
social conditions does not prevent its consolidation.
Among the age groups the orientation to consolidation is
most expressed among 40 - 49 years old respondents as well as
among those who work in the non-state sector of the economy,
the inhabitants of the cities with the population from 100 thou-
sand up to 1 million people. Probably, life in rural areas, small
towns and megacities is not suitable for the tendency to con-
Points of Consolidation
In terms of the semantic space the characteristics of the con-
solidators correspond to “north-east” attitudes (see Table 2).
In Table 2 we gave five indicators which clearly demonstrate
that aiming at the consolidation may positively affect the mass
consciousness. In the research it was confirmed that the most
important differences in values, political orientations, social
well-being and in other indicators of mass consciousness are
observed among the age groups and the groups with different
income levels. The study of identities revealed an interesting
empirical fact: the greatest numbe r of respondents (around 60%)
feels the closeness and similarity with people of their genera-
tion. This means that the Russian society in last years was
structured, first of all, according to the generations. Today the
senior, middle and younger generations act independently and
opposing each other in some aspects. Therefore, the success of
the society consolidation depends largely on the restoration of
inter-generational continuity and mutual understanding of peo-
ple with different income levels.
Following this assumption we study the answers according to
the age groups and the groups with different income levels. The
indicator was considered favorable for consolidation when
there was no statistically significant correlation between an-
swers in different groups provided that the answer was chosen
by at least 30% of the respondents. For example, among 14
most acute social problems we discovered four issues, attitude
to which is statistically independent of the age of the respon-
dents and their level of income (see e.g. Fujikoshi, Ulyanov, &
Shimizu 2010). These four issues are: alcoholism and drug
addiction; despotism of bureaucracy; inequality and stratifica-
tion of population according to income level; environmental
pollution. Consequently, around the decision of these four pro-
blems one can unite the overwhelming majority of the popu-
lation of all age groups and income levels.
Table 2.
Distribution of respondents’ answers (agreement with statements) in
percents of the respondents in the whole sample and in the group of
consolidators (Russian Fed eration, survey of 2011 among adults 18+).
Statement Sample Consolidators
Laws are not perfect, but they should be
always obeyed 58 70
Russian society can make a breakthrough
in its development 61 73
Human well-being depends primarily on the
person himse lf 66 80
Today in Russia it is possible to conduct
business without violating the law 23 54
Elections are one of the main achievements of
democrac y, they are necessary for political stability 22 48
Usually between 30 and 50% of the respondents are con-
cerned with the problems of alcoholism, drug addiction and
environmental pollution. The changes of these variables in
2007-2011 years have been insignificant. In contrast to the
variable “the despotism of bureaucracy”: the level of concern
with this issue has increased from 28% in 2007 to 42% in 2011.
A similar trend was observed with the problem of inequality
and stratification according to income level: the percentage of
respondents ranked it as the most acute, increased from 13% in
2007 to 31% in 2011. These changes give the new points for
consolidation of public opinion.
We identified 34 variables that have received more than 50%
of respondents’ votes, and on this basis they can be regarded as
the points of consolidation for the Russian society, but further
tightening of the conditions, e.g. taking into account the views
of the respondents from the different age groups and income
levels, reduced the number of these variables to 16.
Hopes for realization of the potential for the consolidation of
the Russian society still remain elusive. A low level of con-
solidation in 2011 leads to multi-social negative consequences.
“Class” consciousness begins to take shape in poor circles of
population, among whom it was great inertia of Soviet pater-
nalism. Nowadays this inertia is outdated. Social-political sta-
bility of Russian society depends on how the consolidation of
the “bottom” will happen. In these circumstances, the new con-
structive stage of transformation of the society is necessary. It
can become the po we rfu l sti mulus of its consolidation.
The authors are grateful to reviewer’s valuable comments
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