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

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

Мareeva S.V.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Head of the Center for Stratification Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Leading Researcher, Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia smareeva@hse.ru

ID of the Article:

The research is supported by grant of the Russian Science Foundation, project No. 17-78-20125-П.

For citation:

Мareeva S.V. Middle-Class Perceptions of Inequality Compared to Other Russians: Consensus or Disagreement?. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2021. No 1. P. 38-49


The paper examines specifics of inequalities perceptions by the Russian middle class on the eve of the 2020 crisis. The empirical analysis is based on the data from the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). The middle class was defined in the tradition of multidimensional stratification according to the criteria of socio-professional status, education and income levels. It is shown that the middle class shares with other groups of the population a common understanding of the system of inequalities that characterizes modern Russian society. Despite a more advantageous position of its representatives in this system and higher chances for its positive dynamics, the existing inequalities are assessed by middle class, as well as by Russians in general, as excessively deep and illegitimate. It is shown that middle class representatives consider themselves 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 themselves. This fact is reflected in the specific perceptions of the social conflicts as seen by the population, the key to which they currently consider to be a conflict between the poor and the rich. Dissatisfaction with the lack of action on the part of the state in regard to inequalities among 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.

middle class; inequalities; income inequality; social structure; public opinion; attitudes; perception of inequality


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