Moral Emotions and the New Work Ethic Among the Rural Population of Modern Russia: Alienation As a Strategy of Adaptation in Callenging Socio-Economic Conditions

Monday, 11 July 2016: 17:00
Location: Seminar 34 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Olga SIMONOVA, National Research University - Higher School of economics, Russia
Maria KOZLOVA, National research university "Higher school of economics", Russia
The paper considers the new work ethic that has emerged among Russian rural population. This is achieved presumably through an analysis of the verbal markers employed in moral emotions. Building on the existing body of work on the sociology of emotions, which has focused on studies of shame and envy, the authors have identified new demonstrations of emotion arising from new socio-cultural conditions in the Russian village. This includes “contempt” for rural/physical labour from both the immediate surrounding environment and wider society more generally. This emotional backdrop brings with it negative effects such as shame and envy that, in turn, corrode self-esteem and self-efficacy among the rural population, leading even to withdrawal from active employment on the land and the weakening of social ties. These we can describe as alienation strategy of adaptation under the hard living conditions in Russia. As a result, the rural ethical worldview views work as a thing needed purely in order to meet one’s basic needs, a position that weakens any aspirations toward economic success and simultaneously promotes a sense of endurance and suffering among the rural habitants who are forced by ‘necessity’ to do such hard and ‘dirty’ work.

The data used for this paper were obtained during a research project entitled ‘The Integration of sociobiological and sociological methods in studying the evolution of morality and altruism in the case of Russian societies’. 30 semi-structured interviews were collected in accordance with random sampling in several villages of Belgorod region. The use of qualitative methods provided evidence as to how the villagers used a mass of emotional evaluations to describe both actual socio-cultural conditions and their own situation. The emotions expressed by respondents, in the form of both verbal and physical markers, suggested that these emotions were being used a way to explain social processes.