Friday, November 10, 2017

Only 15 Percent of Russians are Politically Active, 10 Percent for the Regime and Five Against It, New Research Shows

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 9 – Ten percent of Russians are actively supportive of the regime, while five percent back the extra-systemic opposition. The remainder, new research by sociologists at the Public Opinion foundation says, remain or have become “indifferent observers.”

            Those are some of the conclusions offered by Yekaterina Bogomolova, Yelena Galitskaya, Yuliya Kot, and Yelena Petrenko in their article “Everyday Life of Russians” Civicl and Consumer Behavior” [in Russian], Mir Rossii, Sotsiologia, Etnologiya, 1 (2017) available online at

            As summarized on the Tolkovatel portal (социально-активных-россиян-8-политиче/), the researchers divide the indifferent majority into three categories: the socially active who form eight percent of the population, “the social ballast” (20 percent) “who are not interested in anything beyond virtual life” and the civic observers (23 percent).

            Between September 2015 and March 2016, the sociologists surveyed 10,500 people to reach their conclusions.  As Tolkovatel represents their findings, the scholars divided the non-political observers into seven distinct categories:

1.      “The volunteers,” about eight percent, who engage in some social actions but no political ones. “Almost half of this group have higher education.” Significant portions occupy leading posts at work, are younger than the population at large, having higher incomes, live in large cities, and 80 percent go on line every day.

2.      Those who take part in activities involving personal interests but not social ones, about nine percent of the total.  A bare majority has higher education, 87 percent use the Internet every day, most are quite young, and 30 percent live in Russia’s largest cities rather than elsewhere.

3.      The “activists” who take part in civic movements involving their immediate environment, about 12 percent.  They tend to be middle aged rather than young, only a third have higher education, and only 61 percent use the Internet every day. They are not significantly better off than the population on average.

4.      The “altruists” who form 13 percent of the population are inclined to help those close to them but not others. They are older and have less education and personal incomes than the first three groups. Only 58 percent use the Internet each day.

5.      The “civic observers” who don’t take part in collective actions but will help friends and neighbors (15 percent).  Only a quarter of them have higher educations, only ten percent have incomes of more than 30,000 rubles a month, “and only four percent occupy leading positions” at work.

6.      The “web observers” who form 20 percent of the population and are “active only in virtual space.”  They tend to be younger, but only a third have higher educations. “100 percent of them use the internet every day, but “only five percent occupy leading positions.”

7.      The ‘civic outsiders’ form 23 percent of the population. “They are not involved in any reciprocal practices in either real or virtual space. Nearly half are over 60, only 13 percent have higher education, and few use the Internet ever. “Fifty-five percent of ‘the outsiders’ are non-working pensioners.”

The sociologists note that 51 percent of their respondents said that they did not support either the backers of the current political authorities or their opponents. A fifth said that they would speak in support of the authorities but did not intend to take part in meetings. Ten percent said they would go to meetings to support the authorities.

            But only five percent said they were ready to take part in demonstrations against the powers that be.

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