Saturday, March 30, 2019

Lack of Shared Values among Russians Makes Life Difficult for Politicians but Easier for Rulers, TSIRKON Analysts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 29 – Except for health and family happiness, Russians share few values in common, according to sociologists at the TSIRKON Research Group; and the lack of such common values, Igor Zadorin, head of TSIRKON, says, makes it extremely difficult for politicians to design winning electoral platforms.

            “Russian society is very fragmented as far as values are concerned,” Zadorin tells Kommersant’s Viktor Khamrayev; and consequently, those that they do have are not capable of serving as the bonds that tie society together, especially since people say they will work with others only if their ideas and interests correspond (

            That both reflects and reinforces the unwillingness of people to cooperate on various tasks because they do not see that others are motivated by the same things they are. Moreover, TSIRKON finds, the majority does not see religion as a possible unifier of the population for public action. 

            This absence of common values affects subgroups of the population as well. Thus those who view themselves as liberals nonetheless favor banning abortion and prohibiting adoptions by foreigners, not the dominant position many liberals have and something that makes the consolidation of that group of people difficult as well.

            “The values on which there could be a social consensus are very few,” Zadorin says. Only health and family happiness get significant majorities, 76 percent and 62 percent respectively. Only 38 percent consider “’freedom and independence’” especially important; and only 18 percent say that about “’love for the motherland.’” 

            This absence of shared values makes things difficult for politicians and inclines many of them to populism because promises, while not always believed, at least have the potential to attract support whereas specific party and individual programs don’t, the TSIRKON analyst continues.

            At the same time, Zadorin says, this fragmentation does offer some chances for creative politicians. Instead of appealing to pensioners as a group, such people can try to appeal to one of perhaps ten kinds of pensioners.  That makes it difficult to gain a majority but it can ensure a loyal following.

            But the most important consequence of the absence of common views, the TSIRKON sociologist says, is elsewhere: The fragmentation of society makes it easier for those in power because it allows them to take almost any decision they like without having to worry very much that there will be a sharp negative reaction.

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