Time Horizons of Russians Short and Bases for More Optimism in Short Supply, Volkov Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window On Eurasia – Staunton, Dec. 29, 2021)

For six reasons, Russians do not have a long time horizon when it comes to planning, Denis Volkov of the Levada Center says on the basis of his conversations with participants of focus groups. And while their optimism about the future has risen over the past year, few are likely to become more so given the economy and regime policies.

Volkov says that there are six reasons participants say they do not engage in long-term planning: their pasts suggest radical changes in direction are possible, they do not have any sense of efficacy, they lack the resources to affect change, there is little public discussion of the future, young Russians even less than their elders think about the future, and the continuing impact of the pandemic (levada.ru/2021/11/08/budushhee-rozhdaetsya-v-dialoge/).

When Russians do think about the future, they see it as much like today with a few positive developments of current measures and as few negative ones as possible rather than convinced that there can be some radical transformation to an entirely different situation for Russia and themselves, Volkov continues.

Since last summer, the sociologist reports, there has been a slow growth in optimism to the point that one can speak of it being close to where that measure was before the pandemic but not nearly as high as it was during the euphoric period after the Crimean Anschluss in 2014-2015.

What will come next in this regard is “a big question,” Volkov says, “because it is not entirely clear where to find the resources for any growth in optimism.” Moreover, the share of Russians expressing optimism about the future now is only slightly more than that who take a pessimistic position.

And for optimism to grow, Volkov argues, inflation must fall and there needs to be “in the ideal” some economic growth. There also needs to be some political competition and more freedom of discussion. And individuals and businesses must be convinced that the government can be trusted. Otherwise, both will view all policies as conspiracies against them.

[article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/12/time-horizons-of-russians-short-and.html]