Sept. 28 – The Higher School of Economics in Moscow has created a Laboratory of the Psychology of Social Inequality to do research on all aspects of that problem. According to its director Yelena Agadudina, it is devoting attention to why Russians are so dissatisfied with their lives but continue to support the existing regime.
She says the scholars at her Laboratory are also investigating what Russians understand by equality, with many saying that it means equality of opportunity regardless of results while others insist there is no equality at all unless there is equality of results (iq.hse.ru/news/510550011.html).
In addition, Agadudina says, some researchers are looking into beliefs about the nature of inequality, whether it is a natural state in any society or the product of government policies and how it can be measured whether by incomes or some other means. Related to this, they are investigating how Russians view their incomes in relation to state policy.
In Moscow, where incomes are highest, many people relate their relatively better position on the social hierarchy with the policies of the state and thus are inclined to support its policies. “Interestingly,” the laboratory’s director says, “in poor reasons the level of approval does not depend on how much an individual makes.”
Support or opposition to the regime is driven by other factors with the level of income not being decisive in whether people support the regime or not. That means that policies designed to promote higher incomes may not translate into greater support for the regime at least outside of Moscow and other large cities.
It also means that policies that work well for the regime in the big cities won’t do so in smaller ones, at least as far as the relationship between inequality of incomes and the level of support for the regime is concerned, Agadudina says.