Following an existing tradition, NZ No. 51(1) opens with the Imaginary of Politics column, run by a sociologist and a historian Alesandr Kustarev. This time the subject is the famous Russia-Europe juxtaposition seen within historical perspective.
Kustarev’s subject is further elaborated on in the first section of our 51st issue “Image of Russia as a Man-Made Reality”. Grigori Vainshtein draws a distinction between a “stereotyped” perception of Russia by the notional “West” and attempts at meaningful interpretation. Vadim Malkin, Leonid Smirnyagin and Irina Semenenko analyze mechanisms of image production of various countries including Russia and Russia image perception abroad. Vladimir Lapkin and Vladimir Pantin link the cycles of changes in the image of Russia with the cycles within Russian history.
Another NZ traditional section, Humanitarian Economics, is also dedicated to the image of Russia. Yevgeny Saburov draws parallels between the way Russian society sees Chechnya and the way Europeans see Russia. The image of the country changes not as much as a result of costly PR campaigns, — Saburov thinks, — but rather thanks to positive shifts within the country itself.
Yet another section, Case Study, contains Mikhail Filippov’s article dedicated to multiple yet fruitless attempts to integrate Russia and Byelorussia.
The issue of relations between Russia and the West, introduced by Aleksandr Kustarev is followed on by yet another topical section of the issue: “Russia and Europe — Eternal Recurrence”. The section opens with a paper by a famous historian Aleksandr Yanov. It is a kind of introduction to his book “Russia and Europe. 1462-1921”, currently in preparation. It is followed by critical remarks of historians Aleksei Miller and Aleksandr Semenov. In his interview to our journal Miller notes that Yanov’s negative remarks on “modern Russian historiography” are related more to the so-called “historiosofy” than to the current state of the discipline itself. Aleksandr Semenov analyses the mechanisms of Aleksandr Yanov’s mythomachy. The section is concluded with Aleksandr Yanov’s giving a rather harsh response to his opponents and returning to the main topic of this issue — “Russia and Europe”.
In the Culture of Politics a sociologist Oksana Karpenko continues with the image studies. She juxtaposes two images, the ones for external and internal use, of the concept of “sovereign democracy” created by the Kremlin ideologists. In particular, in one of the chapters called “Kondopoga as a mirror of “sovereign democracy”” Karpenko analyses ethnic problems within the context of current Russian governmental ideologems.
Dmitri Mikhel in NZ Tribune provides us the vivid example of “sovereign democracy in action”. He describes the students’ conflict with the dean at the sociological faculty of Moscow state university and compares it with the situation in his alma mater where the new rector, the creature of “United Russia” party, illegally tried to fire the dean of the historic faculty.
The next section of the current issues is dedicated to Ethnic Entrepreneurship — Tactics of Adaptation and Self-Realization. Aleksei Levinson in his running column Sociological Lyrics discusses the background of “ethnic entrepreneurship”. He stresses the structure of this phenomenon and the stereotypical attitudes towards it among the inhabitants of the majority of Russian regions. Onwards Igor Kuznetsov and Vladimir Mukomel study the history and mechanisms of forming the so-called “ethnic niches” within Russian economy. This topic is elaborated upon by Dmitri Taevsky in his article “The China Syndrome: Entrepreneurship As Mentality” while Vladimir Malakhov discussed sometimes paradoxical manifestations of “ethnicity” in the modern urban life (in particular, in the megalopolis culture).
In the Politics of Culture Aleksandr Cherkasov from the Human Rights Center “Memorial” writes about the adverse selection at the Russian media sphere, comparing the current situation with the “lemon” market failure, — economic phenomenon described by George Akerlof.
The last thematic section of this issue — “Sociology of Religion or How to Count the Believers” — is dedicated to the relationship between church and state. As one can see from its very title the subject discussed is first and foremost the matter of church influence on society and that of the ways of measuring that influence. Aleksandr Bobrakov-Timoshkin offers a concise overview of the history of the Czech Catholic church and its current state. Stanislav Minin analyses widespread opinions about “total influence” the Catholic church supposedly has over Poland while Nikolai Mitrokhin and Olga Sibireva use an example of a local field sociological study to offer a picture of Russian religious beliefs that is actually an official version reversed.
The topic is concluded with our new section No Comment, where a famous Orthodox theological scholar, deacon Andrei Kuraev, answers questions posed by the NZ. The title of this section implies that the editorial board often does not share the views expressed there. However these statements are left uncommented allowing the readers to form their own opinions on them.
The NZ issue No 51 is concluded with standing intellectual journals’ review and a book review block.