№ 4, 2022
The Phenomenon of Social Apathy and Its Relevance in Modern Russia
The article is devoted to the analysis of the phenomenon of social apathy in the modern Russian realities. Despite the prevalence of the term “social apathy” in the assessment of the current state of the Russian society, there is still no consensus as to whether apathy boils down to rejection of the socio-political sphere or implies broader interpretations — the dominance in the society of an orientation towards minimizing activities, or even loss of faith in the value of the present day (except family and immediate relatives and friends).
The key problems in using the concept of social apathy are the lack of a proven scientific methodology for applying the concepts of individual psychology to the collective, mass states, as well as the historically unambiguously negative attitude towards apathy as a vice, deviation, laziness, which makes it difficult to fully comprehend this phenomenon.
The article outlines key approaches to explaining social apathy in the modern Russia, revealed in the course of the research project “The Phenomenon of Social Mobilization as the Antipode of Social Apathy”, carried out by the Petersburg Politics Foundation jointly with the “Insomar”, the Institute for Social Marketing, in the second half of 2021. Possible reasons for social apathy include purposeful actions of the authorities, spontaneous reaction of citizens to the activities of politicians, anxiety about the future against the backdrop of the weak attractiveness of the present, the collapse of paternalism in the face of a shortage of tools and skills for living without the help of the state, and the unresolved internal conflicts. The authors reconstruct the main interpretations of the triggers of the current cycle of apathy, such as the economic changes of the 1990s, the failure of the “Medvedev thaw” and the pension reform of 2018, the consequences of which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on the results of an expert survey and focus groups, the authors delineate hypothetical scenarios for overcoming social apathy and possible directions for the development of the public sentiments, and formulate a number of recommendations for managing political risks, taking into account possible social dynamics.
Main Page ~ Authors ~ A. A.Suslova