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Economic development and social stratification in Russia


Novozhilov, Roman (2005). Economic development and social stratification in Russia. Master's thesis / Doctoral dissertation.


The social stratification structure of Russian society underwent significant changes during the transition from socialism to capitalism. A number of theoretical approaches were developed in the last fifteen years to describe the process of transition and its impact on stratification structure in post-Socialist societies. This study attempts to combine these theories and uncover the major determinants of stratification standing in contemporary Russia as well as to analyze the consequences of stratification changes using data from the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS) from 1998 to 2003. The study finds that individual factors, such as human capital, play a greater role in mobility chances in Russia today, than they used to play in the socialist times, and their importance is increasing with the development of the market economy. At the same time, structural location factors, such as industry of employment and geographic location, that had previously played an important role in the Socialist model of stratification, continue to be important determinants of an individual's stratification position. Along with these old structures of inequality, new structures emerged during the reforms, such as the gender gap and the gap between the public and the private sectors, and the significance of these new dimensions of inequality is increasing. In spite of the recent economic growth, informal strategies for socio-economic mobility, that had emerged as 'survival' strategies during the economic downturn, continue to be widely used by the population, but instead of becoming an equalizing factor in socio-economic mobility, they reinforce the advantages of already advantaged groups of the population. Increased differentiation of the population during transition led to polarization of society and declining social cohesion, as the differences in attitudes and opinions about the socially important dimensions of public life reflect growing differentiation in socio-economic positions. The increased differentiation between positions in the structure of social stratification is accompanied by a higher level of consciousness of these differences among the individuals, contributing to the process of strata formation. Increased socio-economic differentiation, coupled with the general decline of living standards led to social and economic marginalization of some groups of the population and brought them to the brink of impoverishment, and economic deprivation. These two major consequences of stratification change are causes for concern as they can hinder the prospects of future development in Russia by contributing to the increase in social tensions, spread of chronic poverty and degradation of human capital at the bottom of the stratification structure.


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Novozhilov, Roman