Nikolai S. Rozov


Ideyi i Idealy, 2010, vol.1, No 1(3)


The paper is an attempt to solve the following tasks: 1) to develop an overall vision of the national mentality dynamics, to connect micro-, meso- and macro- levels, to explain the variability and diversity of basic mental types and properties, 2) to reveal diversity of basic habituses, i.e. types of consciousness, identity, behavior, political culture in modern Russia, to reconstruct the mental components which underly them, and 3) to reveal social mechanisms of the formation and maintenance of this diversity, to study relationship between typical habituses, rituals, institutions with the cycles of Russian history.

Variability and variety of mental components and habituses (P. Bourdieu) can be explained through the participation of individuals in interactive rituals (I. Hoffman and R. Collins) as the basic way of ensuring providing communities and social institutions. The typology of Russian habituses includes five nests: outsiders, smart insiders, honest statesmen, dissidents, and selfless creators. Main frames and worldviews, attitudes as the basis for these habituses are reconstructed. It is shown that the habituses of each nest are characterized by their typical rituals, by specific providing communities and institutions.

The following links between institutions-rituals-habituses and the Russian socio-political cycles are discovered. When elites are emancipated from coercive control and begin to appropriate public resources, the coercive institutions weaken or destroy, institutions of social security and resource reallocation degrade, and institutions for mutual support get relief. In accordance with revealed principles of social and mental dynamics, the niches for honest statesmen, selfless creators and reformers reduce, but the niches for smart insiders are expanded. The state loses "high value" attributes and becomes something like "profitable environment" for its insiders. At the same time the state becomes alien for ordinary people, it becomes an enemy and a source of trouble for a growing number of radicals. In periods of counter-movement national mobilization starts, the coercive institutions rise again, and resource reallocation institutions are improving.

The institutions of mutual support are attacked but they fall only in extreme cases (the Collectivization, the Great Terror), and typically escape to underground. The social niches for honest statesmen, conservators, reformers, and selfless creators expand. Smart insiders never disappear, but they are forced to adapt to strict control. Russian mentality besides its diverse habituses appears as having a single deep foundation that consists of the specific basic frames and worldviews, the formation of standard practices and policies. It forms the well-known features of the Russian national character, but also serves as an important part of the mechanism that generates the Russian socio-political cycles.

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