The Impact of New Media on Social and Political Processes on the Example of Kazakhstan

Traditional media have long lost their popularity, especially among young people. New media - social platforms, messengers and traditional online media - are becoming an important player in shaping the information agenda and public opinion. Thus, the audience of Vkontakte public pages and Facebook groups is approaching the size of the audience of major news sites.

New media are turning into a powerful lever that affects political processes in society. Politicians and officials have accounts in social platforms Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki, Facebook or Instagram. Parties and organizations of different political orientation are also represented in social media.

Kazakhstan, like some other post-Soviet countries, is one of the most interesting examples of interaction between new media and society.

Now Kazakhstan is going through the process of changing generations of political elites, which is usually accompanied by increased instability and political tension. The extraordinary presidential elections in Kazakhstan will be held on June 9, 2019. Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned in March 2019.

According to 2017 data, 77 percent of the country's population uses the Internet. Therefore, the social media are becoming an active tool of the election campaign.

The purpose of our study is to try to reveal how social media affect the course of elections if at all. We propose typological classification of various forms of social and political processes representation in the new Kazakhstan media. We identified the most popular social platforms, influential bloggers, leading public pages and YouTube channels.

We found out that while the social platform Vkontakte is very popular in Russia, in Kazakhstan Odnoklassniki is more widely used, Facebook is also popular – it sets the agenda of the day. Viber and WhatsApp messengers are mainly used for interpersonal communication.

This year, social media play a big role in the elections in Kazakhstan for the first time. On May 13, it was announced that bloggers in Kazakhstan should provide all presidential candidates with equal opportunities for campaigning. If the blogger publishes information about one of the candidates, the same opportunity should be given to other candidates.

On May 9, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Telegram, as well as websites of a number of media, were inaccessible to Internet users in Kazakhstan. According to the media, access to certain sites was blocked to limit access to protest calls against the government.

Thus, in Kazakhstan we see the emergence of important media phenomena, the conceptualization of which will allow us to reveal the evolution of the interaction of new media and society. The results of the study will be available in the summer of 2019.

This paper is co-authored with Marina Galkina

Presents in panel 3A

Presents in panel 4A

Presents in panel 1B

Presents ib panel 4C

Gamification of Civic Activity (Current Cases in Modern Russia)

Our study aims to highlight the theoretical and practical aspects of gamification in the development of citizen projects in Russia. We consider the innovative forms of cooperation and promote civic participation ideas through new communication technologies.

Until now, the authors have been competing in their attempts to define gamification, and usage with this concept fluctuates between two principal meanings. First, gamification relates to the widespread and institutionalization of computer games, which affects the experience of our daily life and interactions. Secondly, gamification is considered as an application of game elements (points, badges, virtual currencies, levels and progress indicators) to motivate participants in any activity, increase their intensity and retain attention and interest. Among game theorists, there are both critics of gamification (for example, I. Bogost) and analysts of the positive aspects of this trend (for example, J. McGonigal).

We suggest the gamification effects depend on the social context of the activity into which it is introduced. From this point of view, gamification in projects uniting citizens to solve environmental, city, and neighboring problems through the initiative “on the ground” seems to us a positive solution.

We systematized the cases of gamification in public and political projects implemented in Russia, for which a meta-description has been developed, and an electronic database has been built. In the analysis of cases, we relied on the medium theory, which considers the characteristics of communication channels and how these characteristics affect various social, cognitive and psychological effects in the transmission of information through one or another channel. The most critical parameter in the meta-description of the gamification cases was game mechanics, that is, technology-driven action, moving the game in civic activist projects. Game mechanics are points, ratings, group tasks, avatars/characters, storytelling, quests, countdown, activity charts. For example, the rubbery collection competition “Clean Games” take advantage of points, ratings and group tasks (https://www.cleangames.ru/about). Inclusive art project "The game with masterpieces" uses points, ratings and a quest in the labyrinth (https://www.jewish-museum.ru/exhibitions/bum-bam-igra-s-shedevrami-ot-an...). Identifying the specifics of game mechanics helps to get closer to explaining the social and cultural effects of gamification.

We are discussing how the use of game studies language ensures the generation of new concepts and the addition of interpretations of existing ones necessary for new scientific hypotheses and the methodology for analyzing contemporary civic and political activity.

This paper is co-authored with Varvara Sechkareva

Presents in Panel 2D

Blockchain Implementation in the Government Sector. the Analysis of the Active Citizen Project (Russia) Adopting Blockchain Technology for Government Services Provision and Voting Processes as a Source of Legitimacy.

This paper explores the possibilities of Blockchain adoption in the government sector, identifies technological opportunities and managerial challenges. The Active Citizen project adopting Blockchain technology into voting processes is analyzed, its role for government services provision and source of legitimacy is evaluated.

Modern public administration turns from New Public Management (NPM) which means the adoption of market approaches to the provision of government services and involvement of private sector to Digital Era Governance (DEG) aimed at moving public services under the control of citizens. NPM led to decentralization and privatization of government services in couple with the implementation of performance management practices which further was complemented by e-government. The latter is related to electronic democracy, though it is necessary to define these 2 concepts differently. E-government means exploitation and implementation ICT for provision of government services and data to citizens, while electronic democracy uses ICT mainly for turning citizens from passive recipients to active participants of public administration processes.

Implementation of Blockchain technology due to its core characteristics and principles can both contribute to e-government and e-democracy as it can be used, on the one hand, for recordkeeping and value transfer, on the other hand, development of decentralized applications (dApps) using smart contracts can be implemented for voting processes which serve as a source of legitimacy.

The Russian government is no exception and has already implemented Blockchain technology in The Active Citizen project which holds votings on topics ranging from decisions related to the introduction of new electronic services to the improvement and development of the streets. The Active Citizen project initially is a good example of citizen involvement into the decision-making process, in addition, to quite high techno-optimism among Russian citizens implementation of Blockchain technology as a source of government legitimacy would be a perfect tool of e-governance and e-democracy promotion. However, the question arises whether the way the Blockchain technology is currently adopted is relevant because now despite all the benefits and opportunities offered by the technology, the architecture and consensus mechanism of decentralized application (dApp) underlying The Active Citizen platform not only does not promote trust and transparency levels but, on the contrary, undermines credibility of the project and triggers heated debate among the citizens. Moreover, as the project's authentification process has malfunctioned, it leads to the fraud affecting the decisions made and diminishing the role of citizens.

It is necessary to asses not only technological benefits and issues while exploiting such new emerging technology as Blockchain which has immense potential to enhance current approaches in terms of efficiency, transparency and immutability but also managerial processes as it can transform public administration models and redefine the set of stakeholders involved and their roles.

Presents in poster session

Presents in panel 2G

Through Thick and Thin? Russia, China and the Future of Eurasian International Society

One of the many criticisms of contemporary international society is that it is too thin, featuring much normative contestation despite a "thick" institutional architecture. Thin international societies are not necessarily unstable, however, if there is sufficient agreement as to states’ expectations and a shared desire to limit cooperation to a tightly focused set of aims. One such "thin" regional international society at present appears to be situated in Central Eurasia, one of the principal regions in which Russia and Beijing are pursuing collaborative regional ordering and nominally expanding on their strategic partnership.

Russia’s aims vis-à-vis China appear to be limited, including joint support for the norm of non-interference in states’ internal affairs, therefore reflecting a thin international society. Further evidence of this fact is that the respective aims of Moscow and Beijing’s foreign policies differ, with the former more concerned with obtaining great power recognition and the latter more interested in preserving the international conditions necessary to allow it to continue its economic development. Still, one gets the impression that Russia and China are committed to establishing a bona fide regional international society between them capable of having an impact on the norms that govern the global order. The two countries have been driven together by shared perceptions of Western overreach, even if the mutual trust that exists between them is only partial, albeit perhaps growing. Their relationship rests of mixed foundations, leading one to questions how deep their cooperation can go.

Exploring English School literature, this paper will seek to explore the extent to which Russia and China can establish a “thick” international society between them over the medium-to-long term, and will derive conclusions regarding what impact this will have on the international order that is emerging across the Eurasian supercontinent, as well as on global great power relations more broadly.

Presents in Panel 2B

Presents in panel 4B

Presents in panel 1C

This paper is co-authored with Marina Khmelnitskaya

Presents in panel 7C

The Role of Digital Art in the Process of Training Specialists in the System of Secondary Vocational Education in Russia.

In recent decades, with the advent of new technologies and the development of digital space, the need to train highly qualified specialists has increased. The introduction of elements of digital art into the curriculum can help in this. Let us consider the possibilities of using digital art in the process of training specialists in the system of secondary professional education in Russia.

First of all, we will single out three classes of professions that can be obtained in college: 1) those directly related to art (designers, architects, musicians, etc.), 2) those that, at first glance, do not have an art relations (electricians, auto mechanics, etc.), 3) professions closely connected with computer (system administrators, programmers, etc.).

Everything is clear with the first type of professions: it is enough to introduce elements of digital art into the curriculum for professional subjects, to create opportunities for the development of computer creativity. For example, obtaining a specialty 08.02.01. "Construction and operation of buildings and structures" involves the study of the academic discipline "Architectural and construction design." As a result of studying this discipline, a student should have an idea about the historical origins of the architecture of the industrial age, about innovative technologies and materials of architectural and environmental design, about the modern stylistic directions in architecture and design. A student can create his own graphic project using such computer programs as Apophysis, ArtRage and many other programs.

Let us now consider how digital art can help in training specialists of the second profile. let's open the curriculum for the specialty 27.08.43 "Installation, commissioning and operation of electrical equipment of industrial and civil buildings." The compulsory part of the in-depth training of future electricians should include the study of the following subjects: 1) "Fundamentals of Philosophy", 2) "History", 3) "Computer Science". Combining these 3 disciplines will help digital art. For example, students can be asked to create a 3D computer model (discipline №3) of a significant architectural structure (as an option, the recently sadly burnt down Notre Dame de Paris or some local urban architectural landmark). In the course of work, it is possible to discuss with students: a) the need for responsibility for the preservation of cultural works (discipline №1), b) the role of science, culture and religion in the preservation and strengthening of national traditions (discipline №2). You can also discuss the problem of electrification of historical architectural structures.

The third type of specialties is closely connected with computers. For example, obtaining the specialty 09.02.02 “Computer networks” includes the study of such educational disciplines as “Fundamentals of programming and databases”, “Engineering computer graphics”. And here opens a wide scope for the introduction of digital art in the educational process.

Thus, digital art in the educational process can contribute to the integration of general education and vocational training, increase interest in learning and motivate students, as well as the development of creativity and communication skills.

Presents in panel 4F

Agenda Divergence in a Developing Conflict: Quantitative Evidence from Ukrainian and Russian TV Newsfeeds

Although conflict representation in media has been widely studied, few attempts have been made to perform large-scale comparisons of agendas in the media of conflicting parties, especially for armed country-level confrontations. In this article, we introduce quantitative evidence of agenda divergence between the media of conflicting parties in the course of the Ukrainian crisis 2013–2014.

Using 45,000 messages from the online newsfeeds of a Russian and a Ukrainian TV channel, we perform topic modelling coupled with qualitative analysis to reveal crisis-related topics, assess their salience and map evolution of attention of both channels to each of those topics. Until recently, it was a challenge to study media agendas and their change on a large scale as the only method available was manual content analysis that is prone to subjectivity. However, benefiting from the new techniques of automatic text analysis, we use an algorithm of topic modelling that lets us define an agenda objectively, through a loose set of the most typical words, and to perform co-clustering of both most probable words and texts without any prior human preconceptions.

With this approach, we not only retrieve media agendas from two large collections of news texts but also measure their salience and quantitatively assess their distribution over channels at different stages of the conflict. We demonstrate quantitatively that the difference between the two channels in the salience of crisis-related topics grows with time. Additional qualitative analysis reveals increasing differences in framing. Our approach allows us to illustrate a process in which a conflict contributes to step-by-step transformation of a former single media space into two country-level echo chambers that may amplify this conflict and make it irreversible. The offered methodological approach is of visible importance for conflict coverage studies, going far beyond the Ukrainian crisis, as researchers, too, in their attempts to capture agenda change, may find it difficult to break through echo chambers they may be trapped in.

We not only confirm that conflict coverage by the conflicting parties is inverse and aligned with the interests of those parties but we also show that, as the conflict develops, the agendas of the conflicting parties diverge, polarization in framing increases and the alignment takes different forms. Proceeding from the Ukrainian case, we can suggest a typology of stages of conflict media coverage, based on the general theory of conflict stages.

 This paper is co-authored with Olessia Koltsova

Presents in panel 3D

Media Digest and News Agendas Online: A Case of the 2017 Protests in Russia

News sharing is at the core of all social media effects linked with public opinion, political knowledge and engagement. Social sciences have long been focusing on news media as a bedrock of democracy or as enforcers of the status quo. However, today this focus shifts to questions of how people engage news and with what effects. This shift was prompted—among many other things—by the expansion of social media in daily life and everything that is brought by it. ‘Fake news’, astroturfing, filter bubbles and echo chambers now superimposed on already common knowledge about biases, political slant and propaganda.

Social media rapidly outpace ‘older’ media like television and press as a leading source of news. However, in Russia TV is still the most popular and trusted news source. This paper is a part of a larger project aiming to model online news flows. To model news cascades on social media, we have to solve a set of tasks. Among these tasks is the extraction of important latent features on both levels of news message and its audience. In the case of the first one, these are news topics already reported in our previous work. In this work in progress, we aim to investigate what are the typical media agenda sets to which users are exposed and how these agenda sets are related to users’ self-selected media diets, understood as the self-selected lists of subscriptions on 12 leading media channels. That is, we seek to describe how the choice of media sources by users guides the content they receive.

We collected news texts posted by the 12 chosen media channels on social network VK during the entire year of 2017. The resulting dataset consists of 164,426 Russian language posts and 185,029 unique words. Then, following our topic modelling approach, we extracted the media agenda for the whole year. Using factor analysis, we identified typical news repertoires (sets of channels a user typically follows) and mapped media agenda. We investigate results on the case of the largest since 2013 protests against corruption linked with a prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results for the agenda-setting theory and the Russian media system.

Potential for Online Participation in Urban Improvements Discussion in Nizhny Novgorod

The paper aims at mapping the social environment of urban development discussion in a big non-capital Russian city. The mapping includes identifying the key actors, exploring the structure of their relations, and their resources. The special emphasis is made on the structure of relations reflected in the social media, and on the online potential of citizens’ participation.

The methodic approach of the paper is based on the World Resources Institute’s ‘Mapping Social Landscapes’ approach (Buckingham et al. 2018)

In the recent years, big cities of Russia have seen much of political and social activity. They were the scenes of mass political activities, but that’s just one aspect of citizens’ rising involvement. The sphere of urban development and improvement also attracts a lot of attention from concerned citizens, which results in political actions, as well as in less visible, but highly significant process of negotiations and attempts for cooperation between the stakeholders. Moscow gives some of the brightest examples of public activism. However, other big cities of Russia have their own agenda of urban improvements, involving authorities, active citizens, NGOs (and GONGOs), and expert communities.

Nizhny Novgorod provides a number of cases which can be analyzed from the point of view of various actors’ relations. The data of a 2018 regional survey demonstrate that the potential of an active online feedback in the region might potentially exceed 20% of the population. The qualitative data gathered in 2018-2019 suggest that the city by now has a vivid and competitive social environment of urban discussion, which has been evolving and differentiating through the recent years. However, the existing system of public involvement experiences problems with reaching wider population, both in the sense of participation, and feedback collection. This implies that the potential of an online public participation in Nizhny Novgorod if far from being fully realized and those stakeholders seeking public support in urban development debates should rethink their strategies of online activities.

This paper is co-authored with Alexander Soldatkin

Presents in panel 3E

Decoding the Social Media News Consumer: A Comparison of Russian-Language Vk News Publics in Ukraine and Kazakstan

The aim of this paper is to reveal the social-demographic structure of VK news publics in Ukraine and in Kazakhstan.

The role of social media in news consumption is growing, leading to growth of incidental news consumption (Fletcher & Nielsen 2018). An alternative to an incidental news exposure is a strategy of following a news organization / a journalist on social networking sites (Hermida et.al. 2012). Social media news behavior is usually studied via surveys, hence, in case of social media platform Vkontakte a direct access to the statistics of official news media pages is possible. VK is the most popular social network in post-Soviet countries and belongs to the most visited websites -3rd in Ukraine, 4th in Kazakhstan (Alexa 2019). In this study we focus on Russian-language news media VK pages in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, as Russians are the largest minorities in these two countries (Colsto 2018).

The data about followers of a news organization on VK has been gathered in April and May 2019 with Pepper Ninja (demographic and socio-economic data of followers) and Popsters (interests and social media repertoire of followers). The sample consists on the official VK pages of 10 most popular news media outlets (five in Ukraine and five in Kazakhstan). For 8 of 10 pages the share of bots is estimated as higher than 10 % (in average every fourth follower is estimated by SMMUP as a fake or a banned page).

Social media news consumers are older in Ukraine than in Kazakhstan, while the gender gap is more visible in Kazakhstan than in Ukraine. Professional structure of news media VK pages public is quite similar on both countries. In Ukraine, as well as in Kazakhstan directors, accountants, managers and engineers belong to the 10 most prevalent professions among news media VK pages followers.

Social media news users in Kazakhstan seem to be more interested in political news than Ukrainian VK users. Followers of all Kazakh news media VK pages in our sample are also subscribed to other media outlets in Vkontakte (local and national news). This tendency is also reflected in the intersection of audiences: from 19% to 30% of four Kazakh news media VK pages followers simultaneously follow the fifth news media – Nur.kz that is the most popular in Kazakhstan.

Social media news consumption is more widespread among big city residents in both countries. Still, the share of social media users geographically located in Russia is almost twice bigger for Kazakh news media VK pages: 10 – 12 % in comparison with 5 – 7% for Ukraine.

Our findings show that the social-demographic structure of social media news users in two countries is more similar than one might expect because of their difference in the level of press freedom/democracy (Töpfl & Litvinenko 2018). The research goals are rather exploratory (presenting data sampling tools and detecting similarities and differences that might be developed in hypotheses for further research).

 

This paper is co-authored with Anna Smoliarova

Presents in panel 5E

Presents ib panel 4B and 5B

Imagining Female Tech Entrepreneurship in Southeast Europe

This paper explores how female tech entrepreneurship is imagined through policy documents, national Google searches, and personal accounts across several Southeast European countries. Technology is often seen as having a potential for innovation and enhancement of female entrepreneurship by removing information barriers through resource sharing and network building on the Internet. On the other hand, technology can be a barrier to enter the entrepreneurial sector for the lack of ICT skills, and/or finances to invest in ICT (Popovic-Pantic 2014a), and/or to develop and sustain digital infrastructure. In terms of research, the lack of gender perspective in the entrepreneurial literature has been acknowledged (Djuric-Kuzmanovic 2018) together with a call for more research on the profiles and motivation of female (tech) entrepreneurs (Radovic-Markovic 2015). Monitoring the potential of female entrepreneurship has been challenging since statistical data available about small and medium enterprises has not always been gender disaggregated (Popovic-Pantic 2014a). This means that there are insufficient insights into the specific needs of women (tech) entrepreneurs resulting in a lack of adequate support and policies (ibid.). Furthermore, statistics about ICT entrepreneurship is “in early development” (Keser 2014) and the research is often commissioned by businesses (tech companies).

Therefore, this paper aims to address these gaps by mapping the keywords resonance associated with the promises and the perils of female tech entrepreneurship in Southeast Europe seen through keyword analyses of policy documents, national Google Search result pages, and through interviews with women tech entrepreneurs to further the understanding of whether and how the imagined female driven tech entrepreneurship becomes reality. We deploy mixed methods to do so: keywords analysis of EU and national policy documents aimed at enabling female (tech) entrepreneurship, digital methods (Rogers, 2013) to map the resonance of the keywords in the popular imaginary through national Google Search result pages triangulated with data from structured interviews with female (tech) entrepreneurs.

The findings explicate the paradox of female tech entrepreneurship in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Serbia often seen as an emancipatory practice that could elevate poverty and inequality yet being obstructed by lack of access to funding and gender stereotypization. We also detected traces of its contestation: is female tech entrepreneurship about economic empowerment or cheap labour? Furthermore, in terms of actors associated with the resonance of the issue, we found that governmental (both national and European) are the most prominent ones, followed by specialised media portals while country specific specialised organisations and NGOs are entangled with regional / European actors. Finally, we found the detachment between the policies and the local issues on the ground.

The study provides better understanding of the actors and the agendas (governments, media, policy makers, businesses, gender equality activists) involved in shaping the imaginaries around the female tech entrepreneurship in Southeast Europe.

This paper is co-authored with Radmila Radojevic
 

Music Shaping: Corporeality Capitalization in Digital Era

Although aesthetic might be considered as one of the basis of music itself, different music pieces and even music genres reflect both individual (artistic) and social understanding of various phenomenon, such as social and common life experience (e.g.romantic relationships, war, immigration), as well as issues of social stratification and group diversity. Nowadays the process of music consumption is deeply included into everyday practices, and therefore digitised forms of music perception, such as online streaming, music videos watching are linked to the all levels of social behaviour: the average listener and music lover might spend the whole day with a selection of music tracks and videos, which provide the background for his or her routine. One of the key indicators of various representative patterns are body types that are articulated in them, which might be understood as indicator of accumulation of various types of capital, including social, physical and erotic. The main aim of the current study is to observe the processes of various body types transmission made through digital forms of Russian popular music, such as youtube music videos and describe the patterns of capitalization of corporeality. One considers new conditions of digitally industrialised music production, transmission and perception might influence on ways of legitimation of social hierarchy. One of the key features of physical capital is the inability of its direct inheritance. However, its role in the articulation of social hegemony of certain groups cannot be overestimated. Media and art, in particular, music videos, are in this case a tool to legitimize ideas about certain embodied patterns of success or belonging to a particular group. To create the model of corporeality capitalization, we mainly focused on 20 music videos and made a qualitative analysis of their content. We identify three main patterns of capitalization of corporeality: regulation of symbolic values of bodies via images, body transformation that marks one’s position in the social hierarchy and legitimization of gender strategies used for erotic capital accumulation and conversion.

This paper is co-authored with Daria Tkachuk

Presented in panel 3C

Informality and Innovation: An Evaluation of New Management and Business Technologies and Their Role on the Business Environment of the Former USSR

Informality and shadow transactions have been acknowledged as a main component of a large amount of companies operating in post-socialist spaces (Polese 2014; Putnins and Sauka 2015; Schneider 2013; Williams 2016). Little is known, however, on the reasons why companies prefer to remain in the shadow; the relationship between informality, informal practices and performance.

The main goal of this paper is to present the results of the SHADOW survey (Marie Curie RISE project – 2018 – 2022) conducted in five countries of the former USSR (between January and March 2019): Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan).

We scale up the Baltic Managers Survey used to calculate the shadow economy index in the Baltics (Putnis and Sauka 2015) to three post-Soviet regions to explore: 1) the correlation between the effects of technological innovation (including management techniques), the institutional (and macro-economic) environment, its transformation, and the likelihood of a company to engage in informal transactions; 2) the main alleged motivations by company managers to justify this behaviour. In turn, this will allow us to engage with the theorization of informal practices in a cross-country and cross-regional perspective and how they can be interpreted and taken advantage of in public policy perspective

This paper is co-authoered with Arnis Sauka

Presents in panel 5C and 7C

Vkontakte Users’ Social Capital: The Role of Privacy Concerns, Propensity to Make Connection and Access to Online Communities

Social network sites (SNSs) are playing an increasingly important role in interpersonal relationship building and maintenance, including the formation of social capital. Social capital, broadly understood as access to and use of social ties that help achieve specific goals, is associated with a multitude of factors. Knowledge of those factors can help us understand why some individuals are more successful in accumulating social capital than others. In Russia, where formal social institutions are not as developed as in some of the “Western” societies, interpersonal ties are especially important for individual life chances.

However, there are still many gaps in the knowledge on mechanisms connecting SNS user practices and social capital. First, most online studies have been bound to ego-network research. Second, the existing research has mostly employed self-reported data on online social capital, which has its strengths, but also limitations. Third, some obvious potential determinants of social capital have been omitted or under-researched; they include propensity to make connections and the goals of the SNS use, privacy concerns that are increasingly important after a series of scandals related to personal SNS data, and such features as access to diverse online communities.

This study aims to overcome the listed above limitations. Our goal is to figure out what types of SNS user behaviors contribute most to the increase of users’ social capital in a location-bounded online network. To reach this goal, we use the data from VK (VKontakte, http://vk.com) – the largest Russian-speaking social network site. We collect rich observational data consisting of 194,601 user accounts and 9,800,107 friendship ties that represent the full SNS network of a typical middle-size Russian city of Vologda. We then collect self-reported data from a sub-sample of Vologda network (N=375 which roughly corresponds to the margin of error of 5%). While the large sample allows us to model observable social capital, the small sample provides a possibility to model both observed and self-reported social capital.

We find out that the city network is both clustered and highly centralized which suggests the presence of an hierarchical structure: a set of sub-communities united by city-level hubs. Against this background, we find out that multiple group membership – even if they are not city-specific – is positively related to global brokerage and eigenvector centrality, and so is the share of local friends and a number of other factors. In the small sample, we find that relationship maintenance behavior mediates the influence of propensity to make connections on the self-reported social capital, while privacy concerns play no role. We thus confirm the well—known privacy paradox and the importance of brokerage, as well as bring the research that was previously done only in the Western context into a post-Soviet country.

This paper is co-authored with Olessia Koltsova, Yadviga Sinyavskaya, and Yuri Rykov 

Presents in panel 5E

On the Role of Technology in the Field of Fine Art (Based on the Results of Sociological Studies of the Russian Museum Visitors)

The State Russian Museum (SRM) is the largest museum of National Russian Art. The sociological surveys have been carried out regularly by The Department of Applied Sociology of the SRM since the 1980s.

The 21st century’s technological development has led to the realization by the SRM a large-scale project “The Virtual Russian Museum”, united the museum’s state-of-the-art projects in the field of information technologies. The web-portal “The Virtual Russian Museum” enables the user to get access to the collection of the SRM, make a tour around the museum's rooms, visit real and virtual exhibitions as well as get acquainted with the innovative projects of the museum such as the online Lecture Hall, the project for mobile devices "The Augmented Reality", the Multimedia Centre (MC).

The MC houses multimedia and panoramic cinemas, multimedia exposition halls, the history hall of St. Petersburg, a techno-game room, a theater hall, a conference hall, information and educational classes. One of the goals of the МC activities is the creation of thematic expositions which enable the visitors to get acquainted with the museum’s complex, the collection of the SRM via presenting the artwork in multimedia format.

The high-tech interactive exposition "Our Romantic Emperor", dedicated to the epoch of Emperor Paul I, was opened to the visitors in 2016. It consists of an interactive book about the foreign travels of Grand Duke Paul Petrovich and a kinect quiz, a virtual fitting room and 3D modelling used "to enter" into the painting of Martin Quadal "The Coronation of Paul I and Maria Fyodorovna", etc. Altogether they create an opportunity for a deep and fascinating immersion in the epoch of the late 18th century.

In 2018 the Department of Applied Sociology conducted a survey of thе MC audience. The method of study was the questionnaire survey. The results of the study show that thе MC does not attract an additional public, its visitors are rather the museum’s established audience. The composition of the MC visitors, according to the socio-demographic characteristics, as a whole corresponds to the audience of the SRM, and attracts mainly the category whose interests and preferences are in the field of classical Fine Art of the past. According to the 46% of the respondents, the techno-gaming route primarily gives an opportunity to increase knowledge in the field of national history. For some, this visit has become a motivation for independent study of history. Some visitors noted their emotional reactions, empathy for a historical person, the effect of immersion in history.

Importantly, during their passing the techno-gaming route the visitors are primarily impressed by the possibilities of information technology (multimedia presentations, interactive mode for users, micro mapping and kinect technologies).

Thus, the interactive exposition contributes to the expansion of knowledge, but in such a fascinating way that causes bright emotions, active participation and readiness for further self-education.

The modern capabilities of information technology, acting through various channels of perception, contribute to empathy, bringing closer events of bygone days, open the doors to history through visual arts.

Presents in 1D

Presents in panel 7E

Imagining Female Tech Entrepreneurship in Southeast Europe

This paper explores how female tech entrepreneurship is imagined through policy documents, national Google searches, and personal accounts across several Southeast European countries. Technology is often seen as having a potential for innovation and enhancement of female entrepreneurship by removing information barriers through resource sharing and network building on the Internet. On the other hand, technology can be a barrier to enter the entrepreneurial sector for the lack of ICT skills, and/or finances to invest in ICT (Popovic-Pantic 2014a), and/or to develop and sustain digital infrastructure. In terms of research, the lack of gender perspective in the entrepreneurial literature has been acknowledged (Djuric-Kuzmanovic 2018) together with a call for more research on the profiles and motivation of female (tech) entrepreneurs (Radovic-Markovic 2015). Monitoring the potential of female entrepreneurship has been challenging since statistical data available about small and medium enterprises has not always been gender disaggregated (Popovic-Pantic 2014a). This means that there are insufficient insights into the specific needs of women (tech) entrepreneurs resulting in a lack of adequate support and policies (ibid.). Furthermore, statistics about ICT entrepreneurship is “in early development” (Keser 2014) and the research is often commissioned by businesses (tech companies).

Therefore, this paper aims to address these gaps by mapping the keywords resonance associated with the promises and the perils of female tech entrepreneurship in Southeast Europe seen through keyword analyses of policy documents, national Google Search result pages, and through interviews with women tech entrepreneurs to further the understanding of whether and how the imagined female driven tech entrepreneurship becomes reality. We deploy mixed methods to do so: keywords analysis of EU and national policy documents aimed at enabling female (tech) entrepreneurship, digital methods (Rogers, 2013) to map the resonance of the keywords in the popular imaginary through national Google Search result pages triangulated with data from structured interviews with female (tech) entrepreneurs.

The findings explicate the paradox of female tech entrepreneurship in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Serbia often seen as an emancipatory practice that could elevate poverty and inequality yet being obstructed by lack of access to funding and gender stereotypization. We also detected traces of its contestation: is female tech entrepreneurship about economic empowerment or cheap labour? Furthermore, in terms of actors associated with the resonance of the issue, we found that governmental (both national and European) are the most prominent ones, followed by specialised media portals while country specific specialised organisations and NGOs are entangled with regional / European actors. Finally, we found the detachment between the policies and the local issues on the ground.

The study provides better understanding of the actors and the agendas (governments, media, policy makers, businesses, gender equality activists) involved in shaping the imaginaries around the female tech entrepreneurship in Southeast Europe.
 

This paper is co-authoered with Simeona Petkova

Presents in panel 5D

Presents in panel 2F

Presents in panel 1F and 5G

Closed, Safe and Secure: The Russian Sense of Information Security

Security is a feeling that varies from culture to culture and it is sometimes specific to each individual society. Likewise, cybersecurity experienced within one state can radically differ from the cybersecurity experienced within another. In the Russian approach, cyber/information space is used by 'other countries' and hostile forces for the destabilization of Russia. The Internet is a by-product of the dominant American culture and therefore, poses a threat to Russian cultural integrity and independence. 'RuNet' (from words "Russian Internet") as an alternative and familiar Russian language platform has been gradually developing from the bottom-up to challenge the English language dominated Internet. Later, the Russian government began to plan top-to-bottom approach for technical disconnecting of the 'Russian segment of the Internet' from global Internet. It is clear that Russian approach to cybersecurity differs fundamentally from the 'Western' understanding of cybersecurity that is based on global and open Internet. This paper discusses how the Russian sense of information security is merging and fulfilling both, the people's and state's security needs.

The methodology of this paper draws on integrated approach. On one hand, a dialectic method is applied to demonstrate the duality between 'RuNet' and 'the Russian segment of the Internet' and to investigate the synthesis of these two diverse approaches and how in this process the Russian sense of security is developing, merging and fulfilling the people's and state's security needs. On the other hand, cross-cultural research and sociological perspectives are required to understand different national security solutions, human behaviour and decision-making in the field of cybersecurity. A sociocultural perspective is applied to describe the historical, social and cultural factors surrounding Russian cyber/information space and to show through examples how the Russian sense of information security is constructed. Cross-cultural research requires conceptual synchronization and understanding the cultural variation of the 'sense of security'. Thus, firstly, the key concepts are introduced and a dialectic method is used to explain their differences. Secondly, a sociocultural review and analysis as a theoretical framework and methodology is described. Thirdly, in the analytical part of this paper it is shown how the sense of Russian information security is provided through historical fear-based template for the isolation rhetoric, awarding and celebrating the 'Russian way' of doing things and by cleaning together for a safer environment. Fourthly, the Russian understanding of information security is examined through the state project to control of 'the national segment of Internet'. And finally, this paper discusses how the Russian sense of information security is verified by the state.

This paper is co-authoered with Juha Kukkola

Presents in panel 7E

Museification and Memefication in the Digital Literary Spaces and Media

Within the past decade, many traditional paper-based scholarly projects in the humanities have been supplemented with sophisticated digital components. This trend is especially true of projects that aim at historical contextualization, presenting and organizing multi-media and multi-modal sources, as well as curated literary projects, such as anthologies. The paper focuses on the structural challenges posed by digitization, on the transformation of form and content between the different paper-based and virtual media, and on the problems and opportunities this creates both on the end of production and of reception. Drawing on notable examples of successful digital projects in the humanities, the paper argues that these projects usually activate two different principles of content presentation, thus partly determining how the content will be interacted with: that of museification (emphasizing synchronic and diachronic connections to other artefacts, themselves organized in a neutral “a-temporal” space) and of memefication (emphasizing the temporal indexing of the content, and its appeal “here and now” to live users who are thereby drawn into taking part in its dissemination). Drawing on our own experience of curating a digital iteration of the paper-based literary anthology we co-edited (Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine, Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2017), we examine the respective advantages and shortcomings of these models, with a view to developing a carefully curated hybrid model that taps into the positive aspects of the other two. Such a model, we argue, would both enhance learning as well as keep the target audience maximally actively engaged with the content. The paper emphasizes that the practical question of “how to go digital” cannot be answered in isolation from the theoretical questions raised by the use of digital tools, the possibilities they open up to enhancing our cognition, and the dangers they pose in exploiting and tapping into our cognitive limitations.

This paper is co-authored with Oksana Maksymchuk 

Presents in 1D

(Inter)Nationalization of the Self-Driving Car Technologies in Russia

This paper analyses young people's perception of risk behaviors in relation to the use of technology and the control of this process in different European countries. The Internet is now an integral part of modern life but it has produced a new environment in which a wide range of problematic behaviors may emerge. One of the fundamental purposes of government is to regulate the behavior of society to ensure security of citizens.

Today parents have least control over the type of content their kids are exposed to on the internet and with the increasing number of teenagers who are finding their way towards internet; it certainly has become a topic of concern as well as fear for their parents. With virtual relationships and friendships given more relevance over the real ones, it is high time that government regulate the extent of internet exposure provided to children.

Today, Internet content in Europe is controlled by three groups of factors: region-wide organizations (the EU), individual countries, and companies (e.g., ISPs, search engines). While governments have been extremely active in promoting filtering for child pornography and surveillance technologies for copyright infringement, they are increasingly finding that they can achieve their aims through indirect means.

In 2006, the U.K. Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center made 13 arrests in a pay-per-view pornography program. In February 2007, Austrian authorities were able to uncover a child-pornography ring involving more than 2,300 people in 77 countries.

In December 2008, the Romanian Regulatory Authority for Communications and Information Technology on the basis of Law No. 196/2003 ordered ISPs to block access to 40 Web sites containing illegal material.

Recent reports show that the Save the Children Denmark hotline, financed in part by the European Commission’s Safer Internet Plus Program, had nearly 9,000 reports of child abuse images in 2006 alone.

While Europe has been very successful in mobilizing filtering technologies against child pornography, it has been less successful at coordinating efforts against gambling.

In 2006, Italy enacted a law that requires ISPs to block the Web sites of gambling operators not licensed nationally. In 2007, however, the European Court of Justice ruled Italy’s law in violation of EU standards.

A 2007 proposal in Norway blocked access to foreign gambling.

At the EU level, countries are increasingly working to harmonize Internet regulation, especially with regard to negative content for young adults and adolescents. Given the significant cultural differences between countries and existing regulatory frameworks, creating a common platform for legislation at the regional level is a slow and complex process. Nonetheless, it is increasingly the arena where decisions about Internet filtering and monitoring are made.

Presents in panel 6A

Vkontakte Users’ Social Capital: The Role of Privacy Concerns, Propensity to Make Connection and Access to Online Communities

Social network sites (SNSs) are playing an increasingly important role in interpersonal relationship building and maintenance, including the formation of social capital. Social capital, broadly understood as access to and use of social ties that help achieve specific goals, is associated with a multitude of factors. Knowledge of those factors can help us understand why some individuals are more successful in accumulating social capital than others. In Russia, where formal social institutions are not as developed as in some of the “Western” societies, interpersonal ties are especially important for individual life chances.

However, there are still many gaps in the knowledge on mechanisms connecting SNS user practices and social capital. First, most online studies have been bound to ego-network research. Second, the existing research has mostly employed self-reported data on online social capital, which has its strengths, but also limitations. Third, some obvious potential determinants of social capital have been omitted or under-researched; they include propensity to make connections and the goals of the SNS use, privacy concerns that are increasingly important after a series of scandals related to personal SNS data, and such features as access to diverse online communities.

This study aims to overcome the listed above limitations. Our goal is to figure out what types of SNS user behaviors contribute most to the increase of users’ social capital in a location-bounded online network. To reach this goal, we use the data from VK (VKontakte, http://vk.com) – the largest Russian-speaking social network site. We collect rich observational data consisting of 194,601 user accounts and 9,800,107 friendship ties that represent the full SNS network of a typical middle-size Russian city of Vologda. We then collect self-reported data from a sub-sample of Vologda network (N=375 which roughly corresponds to the margin of error of 5%). While the large sample allows us to model observable social capital, the small sample provides a possibility to model both observed and self-reported social capital.

We find out that the city network is both clustered and highly centralized which suggests the presence of an hierarchical structure: a set of sub-communities united by city-level hubs. Against this background, we find out that multiple group membership – even if they are not city-specific – is positively related to global brokerage and eigenvector centrality, and so is the share of local friends and a number of other factors. In the small sample, we find that relationship maintenance behavior mediates the influence of propensity to make connections on the self-reported social capital, while privacy concerns play no role. We thus confirm the well—known privacy paradox and the importance of brokerage, as well as bring the research that was previously done only in the Western context into a post-Soviet country.

This paper is co-authored with Olessia Koltsova, Alexander Porshnev, and Yadviga Sinyavskaya

Presents in panel 5E