Middle Class Perceptions of Inequality Compared to Other Russians: Consensus or Disagreement?

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Head of the Center for Stratification Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Leading Researcher, Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS
National Research University Higher School of Economics
Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameSotsiologicheskie issledovaniya
EditionIssue 2

The paper examines the specifics of the perceptions on inequalities by the Russian middle class on the eve of the crisis of 2020. The empirical analysis is based on the data subarray from the International Social Research Program. The middle class was defined in the tradition of multidimensional stratification according to the criteria of socio-professional status, education, and income level. It is shown that the middle class shares a common understanding of the system of inequalities that characterizes modern Russian society with other groups of the population. The existing inequalities are assessed by middle class, as by Russians in general, as excessively deep and illegitimate. The role of the key actor in combating inequalities is assigned to the government, but its actions in relation to their reduction are seen as insufficient and ineffective. It is shown that middle class representatives consider themselves to be representatives of the “middle”, not upper strata. In this regard, when discussing inequality, they mean not a gap between their position and the position of other mass population groups, but a significant and growing gap between the very small elite and all other Russians, to whom they belong. This fact is reflected in the specifics of the perceptions of the social conflicts as seen by the population, the key of which they currently consider to be the conflict between the poor and the rich. Dissatisfaction with the lack of action on the part of the state in regard to inequalities from the middle class, which concentrates the most educated, qualified, and independent Russians, becomes an important challenge that raises the question of the social contract revision.

Keywordsmiddle class, inequalities, income inequality, social structure, public opinion, attitudes, perception of inequality
AcknowledgmentThe research is supported by the grant of the Russian Science Foundation (project No. 17-78-20125). This article is a translation of: Mareeva S.V. Middle-Class Perceptions of Inequality Compared to Other Russians: Consensus or Disagreement? Sotsiologicheskie Issledovaniya. 2021. No 1: 38–49. DOI: 10.31857/S013216250012166-5.
Publication date21.04.2021
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