Françoise Daucé

Collective mobilizations in post-Soviet Russia constitute an enigma for Western political sociology due to their numerical weakness and their incapacity to strengthen democratic practices in the country. This perplexity can be explained by the unsuitability of the research tools used for their study. Academic research on social mobilization has long been based primarily on postulates concerning the modernization of social movements in a economically and politically liberal context. Western and Russian leaders involved in the transition process demonstrated a will to foster the constitution of organizations independent from the State and the creation of a civil society as an opposition force. In the early 90’s, the practices of voluntary organizations in Russia became closer to Western ones. Notions such as “associative entrepreneurship”, “professionalization” or “frustration” were shared by Russian movements. However, later evolutions showed the unsuitability of these concepts to understanding the full complexity of these movements. That is why this issue of “Research in question” aims to suggest new theoretical perspectives for studying associations in Russia. These are at the crossroads of various grammars, where civic and liberal principles are combined with domestic and patriotic preoccupations. This complexity, which resists a purely liberal vision of social organizations, draws convergent criticisms against their action. In order to investigate this complexity of practices as well as criticisms, the tools produced by a pragmatic and multiculturalist sociology are useful to show the diversity of social and political bonds that link militants in contemporary Russia.

Myriam Désert

What are the roots of the informal sector and what effects does it have? Is it a blessing or a curse? Changes in post-Soviet Russia contribute new food for thought to a debate that had previously been nourished primarily by considerations on the situation in developing countries. In Russia can be observed processes of formalization - and “deformalization” – of the rules governing not only the practices of economic actors, but also in the rarified distribution of public services publics. The analysis of actual informal practices feeds thinking about the relations between economic and political changes: what impact do they have in setting up a market economy and the rule of law, and in the reconfiguration of both the economic and social arena? An investigation into the way Russian academic circles and social actors view the informal sector sheds light on the various behavioral determinant: reaction to the economic context, cultural roots, social beliefs, and so on. The case of Russia illustrates how the informal sector is not only a mode of action that circumvents legal guidelines, but also a mode of sociability that rejects anonymous social relations. It helps examine ways to reinject the social aspect into economics

Françoise Daucé, Myriam Désert, Marlène Laruelle, Anne Le Huérou

Since the second half of the 1990s, the theme of national revival crystallized in Russia, notably in the form of a promotion of patriotism. The apparent convergence between an offer “from above” and a demand “from below” supports the idea that there exists a kind of patriotic consensus in Russia. This new tense and autarchic fusion between state and society summons old stereotypes about Russo- Soviet culture. This issue of Questions of Research seeks to go back over these stereotypes in order to show the diversity of “patriotic” practices in Russia today (which widely surpass the “militarist” variant generally evoked) and the connected social uses that are made of it. Following an overview of the existing literature on Russian nationalism and patriotism, as well as a presentation of the patriotic education curricula being implemented by the Russian state, our study on “patriotic” practices continues through several points of observation (patrioti c summer clubs and camps for children and adolescents in Saint- Petersburg, Moscow and Omsk; ethno-cultural organizati ons; Orthodox religious organizations; and the discursive practices of economic actors). The examination of these different terrains reveals the diversity of everyday “patriotic” activities; and illustrates their utilization to multiple ends (pragmatic concern for one’s professional career, search for a personal source of inspirati on, opportunities for enrichment, pleasure of undertaking activiti es with one’s friend and relations…). In the end, these fieldwork surveys reveal motivations and commitments in which official patriotic discourse and the image of state are often secondary, sometimes even denied.