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Russian Middle Class Sociologists View
August 8, 2008 08:19

Russian sociologists finally understood what was Russian middle class and how it changed during last 15 years.

Today humanity pays a very close attention to middle class – scientists explain this phenomenon with consolidating role of this class in development of our society. Traditional criteria of participation in middle class are following: secondary professional or higher education, non-manual working or entrepreneurial activities, and level of prosperity shouldn’t be lower that its median. Combination of mentioned characteristics revealed that about 20% of Russian urban adult population belong to middle class, and about 25% of population classify as middle class periphery, which means they lack only one of listed criteria. The rest of Russian population belongs to other mass groups.

What is the environment in which Russian middle class is born? Over the half of middle class – 54.5% – is employed in the public sector, mostly in industries: power engineering, transport, civil engineering. And only few people, who classified as middle class, are involved in agriculture, forest management, science, research and science service.

Sociologists spotted significant difference between “old” (15 years old) and “new” middle class. Earlier middle class consisted of many small and medium private owners, and modern “middle of society” unite intellectuals, non-manual workers, managers, executives of various levels and highly-qualified workers. The ratio of professionals with higher education is 1.2 times more than before – 47.7%. Employees with higher education are also frequenters in periphery of middle class – 32%. Non-manual workers and executives of all levels share 1.5 times more than 15 years ago, especially managers of top echelon (2.5 times more). Entrepreneurs and self-employed people now exist only in middle class – previously they were represented in various mass population groups.



Researchers also found great difference in degree of professional orientation between middle class and other population groups. For instance, 78.1% middle class respondents eagerly increase their knowledge – compare with peripheral 66.2% and 43.6% in other groups. Moreover, middle class representatives are more self consistent and initiative, they are nor satisfied with compulsory qualification and follow new trends in literature, skills and innovations. Over 62% of respondents described their work not only like source of subsistence, but also chance of self-realization, and only 3% regards their professional position as an ungracious duty. They are mostly upset with low salary and routine and happy, when their work is interesting and initiative.

An interesting and encouraging fact – not a single man of middle class said he didn’t want to work, while in other social groups such answer wasn’t a rare bird. Over a half of middle class participants have more than one work, but they regard it not as an additional money source, but as means for self-realization, establishing new contacts and gaining new knowledge and skills.

Research showed that middle class was more self-consistent and independent in work – in choosing working regime, carrying out various tasks, solving workplace issues. This means that middle class in Russia has innate professional autonomy, which lacks in other population groups. Middle class consists of self-confident people, only few of which (2.4 %) can imagine themselves among the unemployed.

Sociologists conclude that Russian middle class still is in a formative stage , but already demonstrates specific features, distinguishing it from other social groups.

Source: Science & Life

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian scientists society    

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