Sociological Paradigms and the Russian Gender

Sociological Paradigms and the Russian Gender

Internet Russians and TV Russians

The specifics of conducting this survey are to describe the opinion of the 'netizens' [Editor's note: literally, 'netizen' is the fusion of the English words net and citizen, i.e. 'network' and 'citizen', thus translatable as 'net citizen'], the 'Internet Russians'. Are there many of them? Yes, they are many. In sociological terms, Russians can be divided into two categories: 'TV Russians' and 'Internet Russians', which differ significantly in their attitudes. Today, a significant number of people, especially the younger generation, do not watch television at all, probably many do not even know what it is. Television has become a rather limited niche for the transmission of information. One cannot say that television viewers are Russians per se, but neither can one say that Internet Russians are all Russians. There are both, and the opinion of both groups is important. There is probably a mixed category: TV-internet Russians who know what TV is, watch it from time to time, but mainly inform themselves on social networks.

In any case, Internet Russians have become a fairly representative medium. To some extent, their opinion reflects the mood of society as a whole. To what extent exactly? Society is so complex that any statistics can be misleading. To some extent, Internet Russians can be a reference group. 

What do we see in the study with this correction? First, there is a solid presence of patriots (both convinced and situated) among Internet Russians, well over 50%. More than 50 per cent of Internet Russians actively and fully support the Special Military Operation, as reflected in all the survey data. If only TV Russians were considered, this figure would be considerably higher - clearly over 70% and around 80%, but the opinion of an Internet Russian is not the same as that of a TV Russian. Those who actively use social networks make their choice more decisively, based on their own environment, their own opinion, their own analysis, and here is the first conclusion: our Internet territory today is largely patriotic.

Second point. The dissatisfaction with the conduct of the Special Military Operation, adapted to the fact that we are talking about Internet Russians, is still quite significant. Konstantin Valeryevich Malofeev's comment on the shortcomings of our media and our government's activities is absolutely justified. The negative assessment is quite high. Among TV Russians this negative assessment is lower. Significantly so. It fluctuates constantly around 31%, - 32%. This group should be watched more closely, we should pay attention to them. After all, 30% of Internet Russians are, at the very least, victims of enemy propaganda or, in extreme cases, potential terrorists. Of this 30%, Western intelligence agencies will recruit their agents, including members of terrorist groups. Enemies are easily able to make such an analysis - to identify those who do not support military operations and to work with these people. This is therefore a signal that I would take very seriously.

It may be that conducting such a survey on the Internet compounds the problem that is lost when TV Russians are added to the number of respondents. The difference between an Internet Russian and a TV Russian is that a TV Russian is vertically and unidirectionally connected to the source of the information: you receive it and keep quiet, unless you can discuss it on TV, but an Internet Russian can respond online: I don't like SMO and make his message active by saying it out loud. A horizontal model and the presence of feedback.

As a result, among the most active Russians - Internet Russians - 30 per cent have some objection to SMO. I think this is a huge danger. A huge danger for today, and an even bigger danger for tomorrow. I would like to sound the alarm based on this kind of Internet research and think about what to do. Apparently, increasing the number of hours of patriotic programmes on television will have no effect on this audience. We need new strategies. We need a qualitative approach, not a quantitative one. We need to review our network models.

True, among Internet Russians we have a solid 50 per cent support for the SMO but, again, this is largely not a consequence of the work of our government and direct propaganda, but the result of the mobilisation of military and patriots, and people of different ages. And the authorities cannot attribute it to themselves - 'look, look how well we are doing'. It is good, just because our people are so sensitive, so deep, so just and moral and also politically observant. Our people are good. And it's not propaganda at all. On the networks, I think the actual achievements of the state are insignificant. What is important is that the people themselves support SMO, that is a very telling result.

Regarding the rather high rating of Sergei Shoigu. Konstantin Valerievich Malofeev drew attention to this fact. This is surprising, in fact. I think the effect here is mainly that there are persistent opponents of the Operation and it is the same 30 per cent that we see everywhere. These internet Russians will support anything but a victory for Russia, not for the SMO, not for our state, not for our successes, but they are joined by another category: the patriots who think that the level of our Special Military Operations is too efficient, not active, that the army does not have enough successes. If you add these two points together, you get a high percentage of anti-Chougou. It is here that others are added to the 30%. That is, those who are critical of Shoigu are, all together, those who are against the SMO as a whole, and also a significant proportion of active and convinced patriots who feel that the army's achievements are insufficient. I suggest this interpretation, because in this case the figures are somewhat different from the general trend. Otherwise one cannot have this kind of anti-rating.

Non-liberal engagement of sociology

I would now like to say a few words about our institute's projects, including sociology. Conducting surveys is a very important but still purely technical aspect of sociology. I am very happy to have Vladimir Ivanovich Dobrenkov, the founder of Russian sociology, among us.  After the pleiad of our great sociologists of the first half of the 20th century, such as Pitirim Sorokin, the establishment of sociological science in the USSR is linked to Dobrenkov. I am convinced that it is necessary to raise acute and fundamental questions about sociology as a science in general.

The first thing that needs to be changed, in my opinion, is the balance that currently exists in the paradigms of Russian sociology. We need a transition from a liberal (individualist) approach to a non-liberal social approach. We could say that we need a transition from the domain of Weber's 'sociology of understanding' to the functionalism of Durkheim and his school (including anthropology - Moss, C. Lévi-Strauss, etc.). We should take as our basis the position that society and collective consciousness are the ultimate instance that predetermines the content of the individual and precedes it.

When we were guided by the liberal approach, we asked: what do you think, citizen? Before that, however, the citizen was brainwashed by certain purely social (i.e. self-individual) instances and continues to be brainwashed by them even when approached. If the citizen's response diverges in any way from the opinions of the liberals, one immediately concludes that this citizen is an idiot, undeveloped and a victim of obscurantist myths, and if his response coincides with the opinions of the liberals, i.e. if the pollster more or less correctly repeats what the liberals have just inculcated in him, one happily concludes: look, his opinion is a sign of his freedom and independence. These are the fictions that the liberal tendency in sociology deals with, which is nothing but aggressive totalitarian ideological propaganda. This is what science must put an end to, not sociology. At the very least, we should stop lying to ourselves and regard self-fulfilling prophecy as a valuable result of empirical research.

Of course, it must be admitted that sociology is a biased discipline. Pierre Bourdieu has made a detailed and convincing case for this. The sociologist is always biased. The idea that a sociologist can be free of society is deeply unprofessional and shows no perception, it is a professional disqualification. Every sociologist should have his own worldview, his own social position, his own situation. Sociology is always committed, but it is either liberally committed, or it is not liberally committed. Liberals, as convinced racists with zero tolerance for their opponent's opinion, deny non-liberalism as such. It is, they say, the 'enemies of the open society' and the enemies must be killed. Liberals have not always been so tough, but that is how it is today. Liberalism is an extremist ideology and any academic discipline built on the liberal paradigm is headed towards such extremism.

So - if only to counterbalance this liberal extremism that borders on intellectual (and practical) terrorism - we need a non-liberal commitment from sociologists.

Before speaking for sociology as such, every sociologist must first identify his or her paradigmatic platform. For instance, someone says: I am a liberal. All right, that is his position. Then he will tell us the results of his liberal research. Everything will be distorted, depending on the ideological starting conditions - not only the interpretation of the data, but also the design of the surveys, the methods of conducting them, etc.

But in the era of SMO, we need a different sociology for the independent Russian civilisation that our President talks about. We need a committed Russian sociology that develops around the fundamental thesis of the identity of Russian society, the cultural code. We need a paradigm for the sociology of Russian society.

At the same time, in order to construct such a sociology of Russian society, it is by no means necessary to consider only our internal Russian sociology. The school - from Pitirim Sorokin to Vadimir Dobrenkov. One can refer to a vast stratum of world sociology, which, however, does not share the liberal view that the individual shapes society and, on the contrary, insists that society shapes the individual, that is the criterion, and Durkheim, Sombart, Scheler, social anthropology (including the American school of Franz Boas) and many others correspond to it. The important thing is not how one feels about Putin, the Orthodox Church or the special military operation. The main thing lies in the paradigm: if we admit that it is society that forms the content of an individual and not vice versa. Then we have to study society as a holistic whole (L. Dumont) and this requires a deep attention to its cultural codes, its identity, its history. And this, in turn, is what makes sociology Russian.

At the moment, the opposite is true of Russian sociology.  I believe that 80%-90% of our sociologists, influenced by the modern Western paradigm, think that the individual is primary and that by changing the individual, we can change society as a whole. Liberal ideology states that the individual can do what he or she wants with society, break it down into elements and recreate it. This approach is also controversial from a theoretical point of view: is not the very notion of the 'individual' a sociological concept introduced from above - from the centres of epistemological power (M. Foucault)? Today, however, such an approach is simply hostile. It promotes an active decomposition of the social whole, atomising people.

This means that colossal paradigm shifts are needed in the structures of sociological science and sociological education, and this, of course, will also affect specific sociological studies. We must study society, not people. Society is not a collection of individual citizens. Aristotle said that the whole is not a totality of parts. If we put all the parts of a living being together, we will never obtain the whole. For a living being to be studied as a whole. It is the holistic approach of sociology that should dominate.

Yes, there can be dissenters. Yes, there can be dissidents. They are entitled to 15% - 20% in academia. They should have the right to come out quietly and proclaim: we are liberals and fundamentally disagree, we believe that the individual comes first. Russian sociologists will listen quietly, take note and continue to develop their sociology.

In other words, we need a fundamental change of proportions in sociological science, its theory and practice.

Sociology as a construction

It is very important to remember what Pierre Bourdieu has shown clearly and convincingly. Sociology - both in theory and methods - is an active position. It does not reflect the existing society, but constructs it, and the survey is only one of the methods of such active construction, indeed, propaganda.

Let us take our opinion poll. We may or may not include the respondents' attitude towards PMC Wagner and Yevgeny Prigozhin. If we don't include it, we get a picture. If we include it, we get a completely different picture. And, depending on how we formulate the questions, we are already planning the answers. The choice between Surovikin and Gerasimov is one thing. The addition of Prigozhin changes everything. So the choice between Medvedev and Kirienko is a poll. Adding Putin is another and adding Prigozhin makes the picture jump. What kind of jump? It is difficult to imagine. In any case, we are forming boundary parameters, which are defined by what we want to achieve in the end. What we dare to do, or what we aim for.

Sociology is proactive. Or, as Bourdieu puts it, 'public opinion does not exist'. He has an excellent book with this title. Public opinion is formed in society, also in the process of sociological investigation. Sociology is a dangerous tool. You cannot just go in and do it. Sociology is like a drug or a strong medicine. We have to be very careful with it. We have to be safe and ideologically correct.

I would also like to say that within the Tsargrad Institute we are planning to deal with the study of the fundamental differences between the elite and society as a whole. Or between state and society. These are two different macrocosms, two different cosmos. Depending on whether or not one belongs to the ruling elite, one's positions, responses, opinions, meanings can be very different, even polar. The data we receive, depending on whether we address the elites or the masses, will be qualitatively different - up to an opposite picture. Today, in the West, this contradiction has reached catastrophic proportions: the elites think one thing and act on the basis of one thing, while the people, the masses, have exactly the opposite point of view. Sociology is precisely the science that can identify, describe and make sense of this divide.

I am an advocate of a two-tier sociology. That is, one must simultaneously address the collective consciousness of society (E. Durkheim) and the collective unconscious of society (C. G. Jung). One case is when people express their opinion at the level of rational analysis and according to the norms of political correctness, and another case is what they consider in reality, what they feel, the conclusions they come to at the level of emotions, subconscious movements, intuitions, but at the same time they conceal and disguise it. If asked a direct question, people sometimes deny what they are convinced of. But there are methods - even quantifiable methods - that allow one to discover how the collective unconscious of a certain society is organised. Of course, this requires a high degree of flexibility.

Sociology must study people as such, in all their complexity. It must understand how people actually think. A two-tier sociology should pay attention to and analyse the dreams, the unconscious of our people. It will tell us a lot about everything.

Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with foreign colleagues who came to the Russophile Congress. They asked us: does your society realise how monstrous Western civilisation is? We answered: no, it is not aware of it at all. Does your society reject Western civilisation? Yes, completely. It is not aware of it, but it rejects it. To decipher it correctly, you need a finely tuned sociological instrument, adjusted in such a way as to grasp both.

Russian consciousness is contradictory, it is made of paradoxes. It often deceives itself and others. That is why Russian sociology should take into account the peculiarities of our people. Only then will it become better suited to our conditions.

Gender and war

I think we have touched on a very important topic. It is about the gender of war. I suggest that we explore this theme in the future, in a sociological and perhaps also political context, in the work of our Institute.

This theme is far from obvious. Once upon a time, at the Faculty of Sociology of Moscow State University, we conducted a study using Yves Durand's methodology on the 'imaginary gender' or 'gender imager' (J.Durand).  We had to find out in a subtle way who people imagine themselves to be. And here is the interesting thing. It turned out that the anatomical gender of the interviewees does not always correspond to their imaginary gender. In text AT.9, the respondents had to represent a price with a series of regular, randomly correlated figures. It was thus discovered that there were just as many heroes among the women as among the men. Basically, at an unconscious level, many women see themselves as active, masculine and heroic figures rather than as kind, peaceful and caring mothers. In contrast, about half of men, in terms of their imaginary gender, have a structure usually thought of as feminine psychology - they are cowards, they prefer comfort and continuity, they gravitate towards shelter. A certain gap can therefore be established between a person's anatomical features and their unconscious psychological orientations.

Perhaps it is on this that liberals build their gender politics, taking advantage of this factor to give it excessive, aggressive and purely perverse proportions.

The topic you mention is very important. Yes, it is undeniable that there is a feminisation of Russian men. Historically, I think, especially in the last 100 years, Russian men have lost many of their purely masculine qualities. This is what we see in this survey. Russian women are now more masculine, more human, more responsible than men. This is a very serious element. In Soviet times and especially in the late Soviet period, there was a systematic suppression of initiative, an imperceptible sociological castration of Russian society. Men were told that if you had a position of your own, if you were virile, you were a dangerous element and had to be confined and even treated. Since the 1990s, Soviet feminisation has translated into liberalism, with a proliferation of non-traditional orientations among men and a real gender reassignment. At some point, the ruling elites registered and partly facilitated this process.

The feminisation of Russian men and the mutation of their imaginary gender should be raised. This task should be tackled and investigated seriously, drawing on the arsenal of sociology, anthropology and psychology.

War is a man's business, and sometimes they do not want to do it. If they do not want to do it, it means they are no longer men. The very attitude of 'no to war' is suspect for the male sex, because it is natural to defend one's homeland, and if it is not natural, we are facing a very deep process of degeneration, which you rightly pointed out.

I think sociological studies should pay special attention to this. It would be good to find out to what extent Russian men are still men and to what extent they are no longer. There must be special, flexible and subtle criteria, special markers. If we dig, we will find many interesting and important things.

At one point it occurred to me that the beginning of a military operation is remotely reminiscent of a hysterical crisis. That is, first we do something and then we think about what we are doing. First there is a sudden collapse, a blow, we do something irreparable, and then immediately comes remorse: what have I done? This is more of a female pattern. First there is a scandal, a divorce and then - oh, no, let's make up. Besides, you don't understand what I've done. You break a plate, shake a frying pan, cross a border... And then immediately we make up. That's not manly behaviour at all. You start a war, you win it.

When a man does something, he starts something, then that's it: he becomes hostage to his decision, his will, his honour. In our case, the Special Military Operation, especially in the beginning, had hysteroid-feminist characteristics.

Of course, it was not the women who started this war, but the men. but the style of conducting this war and especially the awareness of it on the part of a part of the ruling elites has many hysterical traits and this, incidentally, sometimes contrasts with the heroic, courageous and truly responsible behaviour of our women.

There is a Telegram channel called 'The sturdy mothers of the Donbass'. Reading it, one is amazed at the responsible, balanced, manly, reasonable and heroic behaviour of our women gathered there, actively and effectively supporting the Special Military Operation. It is very interesting and, at the same time, very disturbing.

If I were a Russian man, I would think twice. The situation is alarming. Russian men are being sexually abducted. Until the SMO, there was an atmosphere in society where the Russian man is known to be politically incorrect in some way. He is forced to repent and curb his masculine expressions. This is why the elites treat patriotism and patriotic initiatives with such distrust. The problem is not with women, but with those men who are not men. At the same time, they do not become women, but stop being men; when they stop being men, they do not turn into women, but into freaks, into monsters. A feminised man has nothing to do with a woman, he is the result of degeneration.

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Translation by Lorenzo Maria Pacini