The Russians wanted the power of respect and honesty
Experts have identified fundamental changes in the attitudes of the population.
Value orientations of the Russians had changed over the past six months — on change decapitation populism came a request to the equality of all before the law, respect and peaceful foreign policy. This is stated in the study “the Autumn change in the consciousness of Russians: a fleeting spike or a new trend?”, which read “Vedomosti”. Among the authors of the study, which was based on data from focus groups and psychological tests, conducted in October-November 2018, economists Mikhail Dmitriev and Sergei Belanovsky, who predicted the protests of 2011-2012.
Such changes in mass consciousness the experts recorded in 2012 and they lasted less than a year.
How sustainable will change now is uncertain — they may again pass quickly, but also you can gain a foothold, experts say.
Thus, in their opinion, the mass consciousness became unstable and contradictory: for example, the complete absence of the militarist rhetoric combined with an unprecedented level of endorsement of the army, which for the first time outstripped in the rating of the presidential institution.
Among the core values the ideal of Russian respondents emphasized the respect, freedom, peace, the environment, scientific progress and the development of the industry, justice, prosperous population. Among instrumental values — education, equality before the law, medicine, decent work, culture, change mentality, fair elections, and business development.
There was a rise of self-expression values compared to traditional values of survival, say the authors of the study.
Therefore, many official statements cause acute irritation that show disrespect to people. As interpreted and raising the retirement age — as disrespectful because of the secrecy and suddenness of the decision without discussion with the citizens.
Past research the authors conducted in the spring of 2018. Then it showed that the Russians agree with foreign policy, but do not agree with internal that they are ready for rapid and risky change, and a demand for a strong leader was replaced by a request for equity in the distribution of wealth. The survey stated that the Russians came to populism. But in the autumn of spring a request for equitable distribution of income was replaced by a request for honesty, respect and equality of all before the law (as evidenced by 81% of respondents).
Material needs no longer dominate, and they can begin to replace development needs, conclude the authors of the study.
One of the key changes — request for a peaceful foreign policy: 58% of the respondents considered the current international policy of Russia too aggressively. Because of espionage scandals, war in Syria, missiles, falling people came to believe that Russia receives reputational blows, and it does not promote respect for her and does not match the request to a policy of peace. While the Russians intensified pessimism in perceiving the future of the country: 46% of respondents say that the situation in the next five years will worsen, a further 22% believe that all will be well. Russia five years is perceived as weakening and lagging behind in development from other countries, and Russia today as a threatening country, where the population is scared and doesn’t understand where to move, say participants in the focus groups.
What can be the consequences
In addition, increased negativity towards government as a whole and its upper echelons, as well as personal responsibility for what is happening in the country. All this is happening against the background of weakening of the influence of the official media (about 75% of the respondents think that journalists at these channels could criticize the government) and the growth of decapitation sentiment. It can push people towards political activity, there is also a growing demand for new political leaders, however, while politicians, able to inspire confidence, no. Such leaders should be respectful to people, to hear them, to be honest with people and not use double standards, to admit mistakes and be able to get along with other countries.
The quality of the new leaders do not intersect with those qualities which Russians view Vladimir Putin.
In the polls “Levada-the centre” the main positive qualities of the President, the respondents referred to the stability, respect, charisma, ability to compromise, rigidity and foresight. However, the potential of the protests remains latent, the study says.
Decapitation negativity especially sharply manifested in the attitudes of public sector employees, because these people are all closely interact with the state. It is the public sector show an increased level of social tension in comparison with other social groups, the authors of the study. The reason for the dissatisfaction is not financial situation, and aggravated the perception problems of inefficient management of budget organizations.
Instability of the mass consciousness may become a “new normality,” say the experts. Causes of mood changes was the fact that people now have more hope for themselves, they have increased critical thinking — all of this is disseminated through personal communication. Further development can be three scenarios: a return to the “consolidation flag” in case of aggravation of the international situation, roll back to the decapitation populism because of the problems in the economy or fixing the current sentiment as a stable in the case of maintaining the status quo in the economy and foreign policy.
In the third scenario, to mitigate increases in negativity from the population, the authorities need to change the format of interaction with citizens is to have a real, not imitation feedback, to listen to the population when making important decisions, and to show more respect.
Internationally, this scenario could give Russia the potential to outpace developed countries in activating the modernization of values, which from her no one is waiting, and it can be used to improve relations with the West and easing of sanctions.
Change the mood of the Russians can be explained by the fact that the increased critical thinking, as people become more independent in their actions, said study co-author Mikhail Dmitriev: “the Populist mood was short-lived. Now the standard of living of the population is higher than after the crisis 2014-2016. Now the priority material consumption, which formerly prevailed, has faded into the background. Therefore, any intangible agenda — freedom, respect, peace. The fight against poverty is perceived as a positive subject, but sociologically it has almost never been a priority in the mass consciousness: the fair distribution of benefits and government payments — Yes, but it was not about to give it all to the poor.” Changes in attitudes are related to the knowledge of ourselves as individuals, so people demand respect, says Dmitriev. “When decapitation populism, the opposition to the government combined with the redistribution of wealth — or someone does not give, or someone to take in their favor. Now such installations are not.
But decapitation mood is, people make claims to power, not because she provides them with a desirable standard of living, people don’t like that the government does not respect them and restrains their freedom.
The criticality of perception worsened, and the population reads the official message as a hoax” — said the expert.
What the experts think
Experts do not agree with the conclusions of the study.