Searching For ‘The Great Russian Dream’

Most Russians would choose personal wealth over a more equal society or true love, according to a report published on Friday.

The Russian Academy of Sciences report, titled What Russians Dream About, found that 40 percent of respondents dreamed of being able to “spend money without counting every single penny.” Most said, however, that they had no need of status symbols such as yachts or expensive cars, the report said.

Some 30 percent of Russians said they dreamed of living in a “fairer and more just society.”

Family happiness and owning their own home were also common dreams, the report found.

Just some six percent said they dreamed of true love, something researchers said was due to this being considered an achievable goal, rather than a dream.

Sociologists said dreams and aspirations differed wildly in each of what they called Russia’s “three separate universes.”

“We have the traditional society represented by villagers and people living in small towns, the industrial society that includes residents of regional industrial cities and post-modernist society which comprises Moscow and St.Petersburg, Russia’s largest and most prosperous cities,” said Alexander Chepurenko, the dean of the Sociology Faculty of the Russian Research University – Higher School of Economics.

In the report, which involved 1750 respondents from the age of 16 to 55, people also had to name a fairytale which best described the “Russian Dream.” According to the results, Russians recognize themselves in Cinderella, a fairytale depicting a poor girl whose dreams come true after she meets a good fairy, as well as a traditional Russian fairytale about a lazy man, Emelya, who catches a magic fish which makes his dreams come true.

Alexander Arkhangelsky, a TV journalist and writer, famous for his philosophic debates on the Culture TV channel, said that Russians do not have a common clearly-cut dream since the country is still in the process of development.

“We had the empire nation that was destroyed by the Bolsheviks at the beginning of the 20th century and turned into a Soviet one. Then the Soviet society collapsed in 1991, but the post-Soviet society is still developing,” Arkhangelsky said, adding that it would take years for a common Russian dream to appear.

“The French have their Republic and cuisine, American dreams are of individualism and something that is loftier than the dollar but expressed through the dollar,” Arkhangelsky said.

The survey, which also asked Russians “What do you want from life?” indicated that 45 percent of the respondents wanted equal rights for everybody and a strong state. A quarter of those polled named the freedom of self-expression, democracy and Russia’s status as a great power among their general values.

“Justice in its broad sense is Russians’ supreme dream,” said Andrey Andreyev, a sociologist from the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences who contributed to the survey.  

“The idea of justice is the central point in Russians’ mindset, that’s why we challenge everything in regards to justice,” Andreyev told RIA Novosti.

Asked how they viewed an ideal state, the majority of the respondents (57 percent) wanted to see Russia as a strong country with the elements of socialism.

Twenty eight percent of Russians said they would prefer to live in a liberal state with a mixed type of economy (21 percent), while just seven percent said they wanted to live in a purely capitalist country.

Only ten percent of those surveyed wanted the state to take a leading role in the economy and nationalize the country’s major enterprises.


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