Centre for independent social research




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CENTRE FOR INDEPENDENT SOCIAL RESEARCH

in 2002-2003


Address: office 301, bld. 87, Ligovskij prospect,

St. Petersburg, P.O.B. 193, 191040 

Status: autonomous non-commercial organization

Director: Viktor Voronkov

Phone/fax: +7 (812) 118-3796  

E-mail: centre@indepsocres.spb.ru 

Web-site: www.indepsocres.spb.ru


The Centre for Independent Social Research (CISR) was established in 1991 (in 1996 it received the official status of autonomous non-commercial organization). The Centre was created by a group of sociologists from the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Today CISR is developing three primary objectives:

- academic sociological research;

- professional training of young sociologists;

- development of social research networks.

The Centre’s research reflects a broad spectrum of sociological interests. However, the majority of studies conducted by the Centre deal with civil society and social structure in modern Russia and the world. Within this broad framework, several specific research areas have developed:

- ethnicity, migration, and nationalism;

- border studies;

- gender studies;

- environmental sociology;

- sociology of economic life;

- social milieu and social structure;

- development and extension of qualitative methods.

In contrast to many other organizations working in the sphere of social research during the last decade, CISR does not carry out commercial orders or conduct polls.

Many of our projects, as well as a number of significant publications both in Russia and abroad have solidified CISR’s position in the international sociological community.

The number of research projects carried out by CISR is continually growing. Most projects are conducted in cooperation with researchers in other Russian cities and abroad.

The position that CISR occupies in the sociological community is connected with the organization’s methodological preferences. The researchers at CISR mainly use qualitative sociological methodology.

Up to 100 works of CISR researchers are published annually in Russian and foreign scientific magazines. Many of these publications have received high esteem in reviews published in scientific periodicals and have often been cited in scientific literature in Russia and abroad.

CISR regularly conducts seminars covering the main directions of its research based on findings from research projects. These seminars are attended by experts and by interested persons from St. Petersburg, other Russian cities, and abroad. During 2002-2003, CISR hosted seminars with the participation of such outstanding sociologists as Thomas Luckman, Ulrich Beck, Saskia Sassen, Theodor Shanin, James Scott, Fritz Schuetze, and others.

The Centre’s organizers are primarily interested in promoting and encouraging talented young researchers as well as assisting in the evolution of their sociological professionalism.

Understanding the complexities connected with preparing a new generation of sociologists, CISR actively cooperates with a number of St. Petersburg universities in order to organize student training and to support initiative studies of students and post-graduates.

Every year CISR hosts practicums for students of sociology departments at St. Petersburg State University, the St. Petersburg Naval Technical University, and Academy of Culture. A considerable number of post-graduates of the Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology of the European University at St. Petersburg also consult at CISR, attend seminars, and conduct initiative studies at its premises.

The work of the Centre in the direction of promoting young academics has won international recognition. In December 2000, CISR received the premium of the German-Russian Forum and the Robert Bosch Foundation for the contribution to training young researchers.

Another important area of the activity of CISR is the formation of research networks specializing in studies on social processes in post-soviet society and the encouragement of scientific communication.

CISR also aims to assist educational, research, and human rights organizations and institutes involved in the development of civil society. CISR closely cooperates with many non-profit organizations in Russia and the CIS countries in the sphere of human rights, gender and environmental problems.

CISR focuses on overcoming the barriers between Russian and foreign sociologists. Due to CISR participation in international conferences and workshops, in training programs and joint research projects, CISR has developed connections with universities and research institutes in more than thirty countries.

At this point in time, CISR is a member of a number of international research networks. CISR pays special attention to supporting young researchers and research teams in the Russian regions and to collaboration with them. In 2001-2002 CISR participated in the founding of two research centers in Krasnodar and Irkutsk. Partnerships for specific research projects have been established with both of these institutions.

The work setting of the CISR is open to interested persons and organizations from both Russia and abroad. At the Centre, students, post-graduates, and young researchers have a unique opportunity to use its facilities (computers, library, and academic connections).

The CISR library contains close to 6000 volumes, including current editions in Russian, English, and German, a rich research archive, an archive of biographic and problem-oriented interviews, and an archive of newspaper publications since 1992 covering 40 directions of research.

Since 1995 the Centre has published its own periodicals in Russian and English (nine issues of the Working Papers have been published), in which research results are presented:

1. Fomin Eduard, Oswald Ingrid, Voronkov Viktor. Armament Migration and Brain Drain: the Military Industrial Complex and Scientific Institutions in Russia. CISR. Working Papers. St. Petersburg, 1995. 46 p. (in both Russian and English).

2. Fomin Eduard, Voronkov Viktor. Foreign Help to Science: Outlook of a Russian Scientist (the case of Academgorogok in Novosibirsk) CISR. Working Papers. St.Petersburg, 1995. 19 p.

3. Zdravomyslova Elena, Heikkinen Kaija (ed.). Civil Society in the European North: Concept and Context. Collection of Articles. CISR. Working Papers. St. Petersburg, 1996. 160 p. (in both Russian and English).

4. Zdravomyslova Elena, Temkina Anna (ed.). Gender Dimension of Social and Political Activism in Russian Transformation. Collection of Articles. CISR. Working Papers. St. Petersburg, 1996. 96 p. (in Russian)

5. Voronkov Viktor, Zdravomyslova Elena (ed.). Biographical Perspectives on Post-Socialist Societies. Collection of Articles (both in Russian and English). CISR. Working Papers. St.Petersburg, 1997. 223 p. (in both Russian and English).

6. Tysiachniouk Maria, Zdravomyslova Elena (ed.). Environmental Movement in Russia (in Russian). CISR. Working Papers. St.Petersburg, 1999. 108 p. (in Russian).

7. Brednikova Olga, Voronkov Viktor (ed.). Nomadic Borders. Collection of Articles (both in Russian and English). CISR. Working Papers. St. Petersburg, 1999. 160 p. (in both Russian and English).

8. Brednikova Olga, Chikadze Elena, Voronkov Viktor (ed.). Ethnic Economy in Post-Socialist Space. Collection of Articles (both in Russian and English). CISR. Working Papers. St. Petersburg, 2000. 128 p. (in both Russian and English).

9. Chikadze Elena, Pachenkov Oleg, Voronkov Viktor (ed.). Invisible Faces of Social Reality. Collection of Articles (in Russian). CISR. Working Papers. St.Petersburg, 2001. 124 p. (in Russian).


RESEARCH DIRECTIONS:

PROJECTS, PUBLICATIONS, CONFERENCES


ETHNIC PROBLEMS AND MIGRATIONS


Ethnicity, migration and nationalism in contemporary Russian society have been one of the research priorities at CISR from very early on. Since 1992, CISR researchers have participated in more than 20 projects on these themes, including “Forming ethnic communities in St. Petersburg and Berlin” (together with the Free University of Berlin, 1995-1996) which was marked as one of the best among the projects supported by the Volkswagen Foundation; and “Caucasians in a Russian City: Integration in the Context of Xenophobia” (supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 1997-1999). The results of research were presented to the professional community at three international conferences organized by CISR: “Migration and the Nation State” (2002), “Social Sciences, Racist Discourse and Discrimination Practices” (2001), and “Ethnic Economy in Post-Socialist Space” (1999). Around 70 articles were published in addition to three collections of papers, viz “Racism in the Language of Social Sciences” (2002), “Ethnicity and Economy in Post-Socialist Space” (2000, in both Russian and English), and “Construction of Ethnicity: Ethnic Communities in St. Petersburg” (1998). In the first decade of CISR’s existence themes such as extremist groups, ethnic communities in the contemporary Russian city, and ethnic discrimination were common CISR research activities. At present these initiatives have been supplemented with new ones – first, studies on institutional discrimination, social context of the production of racist discourse and functioning of agents and institutes which produce racist discourse (science, education, mass media). Research interests in this direction focus on the conceptualization of “ethnicity” in political (legal), educational, scientific and media discourse, and on discrimination connected with the use of ethnic terms.


Basic projects


ROLE OF REGIONAL STUDIES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF REGIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND CIVIC EDUCATION (BY THE EXAMPLE OF LOCAL COMMUNITIES OF NORTH-WEST RUSSIA)

May – November 2003.

Coordinator: Boris Gladarev (CISR).

The project aimed to study how regional studies can influence the identity of school children in the district centers of North-West Russia. Special attention was paid to civic education problems and their connection to regional studies. Within the project all agents involved in regional studies were interviewed and a discourse analysis of text-books was carried out.

Participants from CISR: Boris Gladarev, Oksana Karpenko, Elena Chikadze.

Supported by the International Charitable D.S. Likhachev Foundation.


Image of Germany and Germans in Russia

September 2003 – December 2003.

The object of the research was to look at opinions of Russians regarding German society, the politics of Germany, and Germans in general, and to study their opinions on the activities of German institutes working in St. Petersburg. Basic research methods: focus-groups and problem-oriented interviews.

Researchers: Lubov Ejova, Larisa Sedova.

Supported by the Consulate General of Germany in St. Petersburg.


OTHER RUSSIANS”: MOBILIZED MENTALITY

June 2000 – February 2002.

Coordinator: Boris Firsov (the European University at St. Petersburg).

The project focused on the study of post-soviet mass migration of “Russians” or “other Russians”, as they are often called, from former soviet republics, mainly from Central Asian republics, to Russia. The methods of narrative interviewing and fragmentary participant observation were used. Special attention was paid to migration and further integration/adaptation strategies of migrants, to their economic strategies and practices during the soviet era, and to the role ascribed to “other Russians” in the historical development of Central-Asian nationalism of the 90’s. As a result two collections of articles were published.

Participant from CISR: Sergej Damberg.

Supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


HATE SPEECH ON THE RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE INTERNET

March – October 2002 (first stage), June – November 2003 (second stage).

Joint project with the European University at St. Petersburg.

Coordinator: Philippe Tortchinski (EUSPb).

The project was carried out within the “Forming Frames of Tolerant Consciousness and Prevention of Extremism in Russian Society (2001-2005)” Program (subprogram “Using the Scientific-method to assist the Mass Media and develop Campaigns for the Propagation of Tolerant Behaviour”. The project studied extremist texts found on the Russian-speaking Internet.

The main goal was to systemize information about extremist ideas promoted on the Internet, to reveal the organizer and methods of distribution of such information, and the intended audience. The project was implemented in collaboration with the company “Yandex” (Moscow). As a result of the first stage of research the following book was published, (Язык вражды в русскоязычном Интернете: материалы исследования по опознаванию текстов ненависти. СПб.: Изд-во Европейского университета в Санкт-Петербурге, 2003 / Hate Speech on the Russian-speaking Internet: Research Material on Recognition of Texts of Hatred). European University at St. Petersburg, 2003).

Participants from CISR: Oksana Karpenko (both stages), Olessia Koltsova (first stage).

Supported by the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, the “Forming Frames of Tolerant Consciousness and Prevention of Extremism in the Russian Society (2001-2005)” Program.


AFRICAN REFUGEES AND ASYLUM-SEEKERS IN ST. PETERSBURG AND THE RUSSIAN NORTHWEST

September – December 2002.

Coordinator: Lubov Ejova (CISR).

An analysis of the social situation of refugees from African countries living in St. Petersburg and of the possibility of their integration into Russian society was carried out. Researchers have come up with recommendations for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Participants from CISR: Sergej Damberg, Lubov Ejova.

Supported by the UNHCR.


DEVELOPMENT OF METHODOLOGY AND THE ORGANIZATIONAL MECHANISM OF CONTENT MONITORING OF MASS MEDIA PRODUCTION

October – December 2002.

Joint project with the Glasnost Defence Foundation.

Coordinator: Alexei Simonov (Glasnost Defence Foundation).

The goal of the project was to develop a technique for monitoring intolerant texts in the mass media. The developed method is expected to be available for state bodies and public organizations. It contains a number of quantitative and qualitative blocks, and was tested with the participation of independent coders and with the help of newspaper sampling in six regions of the Russian Federation.

Participant from CISR: Olessia Koltsova.

Supported by the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation.


NATIONAL-CULTURAL AUTONOMY: IDEA AND PRACTICE

June 2003 – October 2004.

The project aims to study the impact of the Federal law on “National-Cultural Autonomy” (1996) and also analyze public discussion of the concept of “National-Cultural Autonomy” (NCA). Special emphasis is placed on how NCA is conceptualized within three communities that define the course of public debate and the decision making process: executive power representatives, academic experts, and ethnic activists. The research included the following activities: interviews in three regions of the Russian Federation, study of shorthand records and legislative records of the Committee for Nationalities Affairs in the State Duma Archives, and analysis of academic publications on ethnic issues.

Researcher: Alexandr Osipov.

Supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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