Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Many Polls Conducted in Kazakhstan But Few Results Released Because Those who Pay for Them Block That, Simakova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 1 – A remarkable number of sociological surveys are carried out in Kazakhstan but few know about their results because the firms or government offices who pay for them want to use the information for themselves and block any broad distribution, Olga Simakova of the Strategy Center for Social and Political Research says.

            None of the polling agencies has sufficient funding or popular support for them to carry out polls and release their results, and so the sector remains dependent on those who pay for each survey, she says. There is as yet no culture supporting polls as there is in Russia and many other countries (

            What is especially sad is that sometimes existing polling agencies duplicate the work of others because they do not know that the questions they want to ask the population have already been asked and summed up by some other group. And that has significantly slowed the development of the field and of knowledge about Kazakh life.

            It also means, Simakova says, that individuals, groups and agencies who could benefit from this information don’t get it in a timely fashion unless they are willing to pay a polling organization to ask questions just for itself. That needs to change for progress to occur, but it will be difficult.

            Drawing on her knowledge of both published and unpublished poll result, the sociologist says that surveys show that life is changing and while there are some trends pointing to archaization and the rise of pre-Islamic traditions, others suggest Kazakhs are modernizing both in religious and political terms.

            At present, Simakova continues, “the level of religiosity is growing,” chiefly among the Muslim sector of society compared to two decades ago when Christianity made a comeback. Changes from one generation to the next are enormous and deserve much closer and more public examination than they have received.

            Those between 25 and 34 are not only very different from those between 35 and 44 but also are certain to be more influential because they are twice as numerous. “They are more individualistic and pragmatic and aren’t equally deferential to the powers that be.” And they are more prepared to be active in defending their rights.

            This rising generation, polls show, “has more liberal views about family life; they are more mobile and open to information and easily work online.” And because of these changes in attitude, they are pressuring the regime for change as they are unhappy with where things are and where they appear to be going.

            Some of this younger generation, Simakova says, are ready to work with others; but the share of those who plan to count only on themselves rather than on others or on the state is growing. And they are ever more suspicious of elections managed by the powers. They simply don’t take part.

            According to a survey her institute carried out, “every second member of this group did not take part,” saying that “nothing depends on voters” and that they are “indifferent to who would be elected.”

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