Parishioners versus participants: what kind of civic culture has been created in Russia

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Parishioners versus participants: what kind of civic culture has been created in Russia
Parishioners versus participants: what kind of civic culture has been created in Russia
24 November, 16:53Photo: Соцсети
As long as the majority of citizens do not actively participate in political life, neither democracy nor totalitarianism threatens the country.

Recently, Russian social networks are increasingly asking the question, what kind of civic culture has been created in Russia in recent years? After all, there is no doubt that Russian society today is radically different from what it was 20 years ago. In this regard, the publicist Yuri Khristenzen recalled the theory that was put forward in the last century by American political scientists, who studied civic culture in different countries. They identified three types of civic behavior.

Parishioners - they are not interested in politics outside the inner circle - the parish (we can't change anything anyway).

The subjects are loyalists, they are interested in politics, but do not participate in it (the authorities are more visible, we support the authorities).

Participants - get interested, participate, go to rallies, organize subbotniks, volunteer, donate money, etc.

The type of political system in the country depends on the ratio of civil cultures. The reverse is also true - the ratio of civic cultures depends on the type of political system. Overcoming this dependence is possible only with the use of mass propaganda and repression by the authorities.

Analyzing the data obtained during the study, the author writes:

“On the left in the graph is the ratio of civic cultures in democracies according to a study of the middle of the last century. More than half of the citizens participate. The state, in response, creates inclusive institutions, pushing for participation (political competition, free elections, self-government, NGOs, etc.).

On the right is the ratio of civil cultures in totalitarian countries. Participation there is obligatory for subjects, but in forms controlled by the state (Komsomol, political information and Lenin's subbotniks). Non-participation of parishioners and independent participation of participants are stigmatized as propaganda and prosecuted.

Autocracies also create controlled forms of participation for the subjects, but they are perfectly content with the non-participation of the parishioners. Autocracies allow independent participation as long as it does not pose a threat to the regime. Otherwise, the participants are branded foreign agents, enemies of the people and repressed.

Let us consider possible changes in the political system in Russia from the point of view of the current ratio of civil cultures. The transition to democracy is impossible without an increase in the number of participants. A transition to totalitarianism is unlikely. For this, it is necessary to repress not only the participants, but also the parishioners…”

The author predicts that in the future in Russia the opinion of the population will habitually fluctuate along with the party line:

“They will say that the population will continue to support the special operation. But he will gladly support peace and détente of international tension, if the authorities so desire.

We have seen how post-Soviet autocracies go through a similar period of turbulence in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. One leader replaces another, and nothing terrible happened. For subjects and parishioners, of whom the majority, nothing has changed..."

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