Thursday, May 12, 2022

Polls Show that No ‘Civic Russian Nation’ Exists, Emil Pain Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 30 – Russians do identify with their country, but that identification is not by itself sufficient to say that there is “a civic Russian nation,’” ethno-sociologist Emil Pain says, citing polling data which undercut the insistence of many Russian scholars to the contrary (

            Speaking at a Kazan conference devoted to the memory of sociologist Leokadiya Drobizheva who was long one of the scholars promoting this concept, Pain, not at the Moscow Institute of Sociology and the HSE, devoted his entire talk to criticizing the concept of “a civic Russian nation,” so closely associated with ethnic specialist whose memory was being honored.

            Drobizheva herself, Pain argued noted in “one of her last works” that as of 2019, “only 16 percent of Russians felt they were able to influence what was taking place in their city or region and only 11 percent felt that they had any impact on what was taking place” in the Russian Federation as a whole.

            Such a sense of efficacy is necessary for a civic nation to exist, he argues; and clearly, Russians don’t have it. Consequently, one must conclude that such an entity does not exist and that identification of the population with the country is insufficient to support claims to the contrary.

            In his remarks, Pain also insisted that “there is no connection between identity and the consolidation” of the population. Identity with the country in the absence of a sense of collective efficacy is not evidence of or the basis for successful consolidation of the population whatever anyone may think.

            The ethno-sociologist suggested in addition that some Russian groups are closer to becoming part of a civic nation than most others. “According to all our research,” he said, “the Internet to an extraordinarily positive degree consolidates societies but those who mostly watch television aren’t part of that process.”

            Thus, it may be argued that there are islands of civic society among those who identify with the Russian Federation; but it can’t be shown that there exists a single unified civil society as such.

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