Svyatoslav Kaspe 1
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

Many Skeletons in This Closet: The Political Use of Tradition in Modern Russia

2022, vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 9–37 [issue contents]
The author sees tradition as a special type of human interaction, typical of modern and changing societies rather than of traditional ones; for that reason, his focus is on its use as a category of political struggle and as an instrument of power. There are four strata of modern Russia, and tradition has its own modus operandi in each of them. These groups are the scientific community, the intellectual elites (reflexive and functional), the political elites, and the masses (the latter covering all groups not belonging to the listed above). The scientific community generally adheres to the ethos of professional neutrality. Intellectual elites produce more-or-less politically-biased interpretations of tradition, guided both by their moral pathos and by their contractual obligations to the political elites. The latter use tradition directly as a tool of political governance. Such use is (a) instrumental, (b) quite indifferent to the content of those policies and courses that are intended to serve, and (c), quite indifferent to the authenticity of the tradition as such. However, the effectiveness of these impetuses from the elite directed at the masses remains highly questionable. Until recently, no research has been conducted to find out what the Russian masses consider to be traditional, and how positively this tradition is perceived. The situation has only started to change in recent years, thanks to the work of the ZIRCON group. For the time being, however, it is not known to what extent resorting to tradition (that is, to the kind of substantivized speculation that is suggested to be seen as tradition) could play in the integrating and legitimizing role which the political elites expect from it.
Citation: Kaspe S. (2022) V etom shkafu mnogo skeletov: politicheskoe ispol'zovanie traditsii v sovremennoy Rossii [Many Skeletons in This Closet: The Political Use of Tradition in Modern Russia]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 21, no 1, pp. 9-37 (in Russian)
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