M. G.Matskevich

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  • № 4, 2023

    • Times Can Be Chosen: Images of Desirable Past in the Eyes of Russians

      The article, based on the secondary analysis of all-Russian quantitative and qualitative sociological research data, examines the question of the Russians’ attitude to various time periods in the history of the country. Surveys over the past 20 years have documented an increase in preferences for the present over the past, while the late Soviet period is still relatively attractive. The author interprets the fact that this trend, although to a different extent, can be traced within all age cohorts, as evidence that images of the past, which were similar in their meaning, were formed and promoted in both communicative and cultural memory. The politics of memory, constructing images of the recent past, did not contradict the ideas transmitted by family memory. Data from quantitative and qualitative studies indicate the dominance of a largely negative image of the 1900s and a positive image of the Brezhnev era.

      Having tested the existing explanations for the continued popularity of the Brezhnev era as a desirable past, the author comes to the conclusion that each of them is valid to the extent that it does not claim exclusivity. Nostalgia (in its broadest interpretation), the state’s memory politics, the hardships of the 1990s, and many other factors played a role in establishing the image of the late USSR as a golden age in the Russian history. At the same time, the study once again confirms that presentism dominates the perception of the past, and the attitude towards the past depends to a decisive extent on the current events and the current situation. According to the author, in today’s Russia, the idealized image of the late Soviet period turns out to be what Pierre Nora called a “site of memory”. And the fact that not all Russians are familiar with a detailed map of this “site of memory” does not defy its symbolic significance.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-113-140

      Pages: 113-140