|VOLUME 7 (2005), ISSUE 12 (YEARLY)
EMERGENT CLASS DIVISIONS AMONG YOUNG ADULTS IN THE FORMER SOVIET UNION
In this article, classes are defined as formations based on occupations with similar work and market situations, the occupational aggregates thus created acting as likely bases for the development of common lifestyles, socio-political orientations, perceptions of common interests and related political action. Evidence is drawn from survey investigations conducted in 2002 among a total of 1800 25-29 year olds in six contrasting locations in three different ex-communist countries (Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine). The rapid destruction of the old system and the steep drops in output and living standards in all the countries had fostered widespread feelings that the societies had become classless, that virtually everyone was facing very similar opportunities and problems, or on the opposite that the countries had become divided into prospering elites on the one hand and impoverished masses on the other. However, the survey evidence shows that the emergent class divisions are similar (though not identical) to those conventionally recognized in western sociology - it is argued that the new market economies already have clearly defined middle classes and less homogeneous working classes, and that these classes, especially the middle classes, are already acquiring social and cultural dimensions. However, it is argued that the type of class-based politics familiar in the West is likely to remain a long-term absentee.
Class Structure - Social Stratification - Labor markets - Careers - Eastern Europe - Youth
Ken Roberts is Professor of Sociology at the University of Liverpool, UK, where he has worked since 1966. He is among the UK's leading youth researchers, and has also written extensively on the sociology of leisure. He is a past chair of World Leisure's Research Commission, and a past president of the International Sociological Association's Research Committee on Leisure.
During the last 15 years he has coordinated a series of research projects in a total of 11 countries from the former Soviet bloc, investigating the impact of the transformation of these countries on young people and their life stage transitions. Currently he is working on a study of trends in education and the labour markets in Central Asia. His recent books include Surviving Post-Communism: Young People in the Former Soviet Union (2000), Class in Modern Britain (2001), The Leisure Industries (2004), and Leisure in Contemporary Society (second revised edition, 2006).
This article is a revised version of a paper presented with Jochen Tolen at the 36th congress of the International Institute of Sociology held in 2004 in Beijing, China.
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