Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Nadezhda Lebedeva (Higher School of Economics, Russia)

Arto Mustajoki (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Tatiana Larina (Peoples' Friendship University of Russia)

Ekaterina Protassova (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Panel abstract: Cultural Factors in the Modernization Process of Russia

When speaking of Russians as a nation or as an ethnic group, we are dealing with a stereotype. Stereotypes are an important, even an evitable feature of human mind. Small children learn very early to differentiate owns and aliens. Humans need categories in order to picture the environment they live in and to speak of various things and objects. The ability to distinguish between different groups of people is essential also from the point of view of communication.

Stereotypes are dangerous because all human groups are heterogeneous. Speaking of Russian mentality, national character, culture or mind means a strong generalisation. If you look at large Russian cities and remote villages or at old generations and young people, you see, of course, quite different worlds.

It is possible to differentiate and even to measure special features of a certain culture. The very notion of culture includes the idea of comparison. If we say that the Russians are impulsive, it means that they are more impulsive than other ethnic groups we have in our minds. Mexicans would hardly regard the Russians as impulsive; we may argue that an average Russian is more impulsive than an average Finn is, or, in Russia, you see impulsive persons more often than in Finland. Differences between cultures are not only an abstract notion but also substantially influence behaviour of individual people and that of nations. In our section we are trying to describe some specific features of Russianness and then to discuss how they can be seen in communicative patterns, economic activities and intercultural identities.

In approaching the specific features of the Russian mentality/mind/culture, a synthesis will be made on the basis of previous research (Russian philosophical tradition, World Value survey, Lewis's Communication Model, Hfstede's Cultural dimension Theory). Communication practices is one of the most apparent realisations of these features.

The comparison of national development indices of two countries - Russia and Canada - has shown that cultural verticality is a serious barrier for the further development of Russia, including the development of an innovative economy. In cross-national values comparisons, Russia appears to be closer in its value priorities to Post-Communist and Mediterranean countries. There is a sizable value minority in Russia, which is typical for Western European countries, and these people might be a resource group for social advancement, especially from perspective of human-centered approach.

The ethnic composition of the peoples living in Russia has always been multi-coloured; this combines with the idea of greatness / bigness of the country. Russians as a transnational community brings us to all of the European countries and beyond, and Russian has new functions specific for modernization tendencies.

To understand modern Russia it is important to know its cultural values, which constitutes Russian mentality. Though Russia has embarked upon the way of modernization, its core values are still dominant and they determine most of the processes in different aspects of life, sometimes decelerating them. Many features of the present day Russia can be explained through its traditional beliefs and attitudes.