The Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Academic Center was created in 1993 and has the legal status of an independent non-commercial organization. It has developed alongside the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences and has served as its research division.
In creating the Intercenter, the aim was to promote the development of fundamental, social, academic research that requires great expenses, but does not promise fast results. One of the most important aims is to assist in the formation of an "invisible college" of scholars who research fundamental patterns of Russia’s post-communist transformation.
The idea of creating the Intercenter proved to be a success as its activities were met with lively response from scholars. In 1993, Professor Shanin said, “We dedicated this year to attempt to create a multidisciplinary scientific center that would be built on fundamental long-term research and on patient consideration... This entails creating conditions for scholars where no one pushes them and where the administration exists for the scholars – rather than the scholars for the administration. What is more, we are going further, because more and more people are flocking toward this ‘little fire’... New aims, new thoughts, new organizations, new seminars – it comes at all of us like a wave, so strongly that we hardly can have time to realize it all, but we really can realize a part of it.”
Main objectives include the development and integration of the social sciences and their interdisciplinary interactions, scientific and methodical support for social research, and organization and conducting of fundamental research on the problems of socio-economical developments in modern Russia.
The priority in achieving these goals is the broadening of communication within the framework of the Russian scientific community and its connections with international research centers. Besides this, the planning of the Intercenter’s research is built on the following foundational priorities:
- Emphasis on solving major, long-term, scientific problems (with particular emphasis on fundamental research into actual problems within the sphere of the economical, social, cultural, and political life of society)
- Support of an independent base of empirical research;
- Interdisciplinary research;
- A social approach to the analysis of economic processes;
- Training research personnel by engaging MSSES students in investigative projects;
- Stimulation and support of non-commercial and non-politicized research into modern economic processes in Russia using a wide variety of approaches within the social sciences.
MAIN AREAS OF ACTIVITY
As a creative association of researchers, the Intercenter realizes the following types of investigative projects:
- Projects under the leadership of salaried Intercenter employees or teachers from the Moscow School that are most valuable to the Intercenter;
- Combined projects under the leadership of representatives of other development centers and structures;
- Projects by students and graduates of the Moscow School.
Research projects are approved by the Intercenter and financed using funds from various sources. Projects carried out by students and graduates of the Moscow School are chosen on a competitive basis and financed by the Intercenter itself. The Intercenter’s main sources of financing for its activities are research grants. Since the Intercenter began operations, the HESP, the Open Society Institute, the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Pain Foundation have rendered financial support.
As part of the realisation of the Intercenter’s research projects:
- With the help of the Moscow School, participants of the projects are provided with access to library, information, and publishing services; linguistic centers; various facilities and equipment; data bases; and accounting services.
- It encourages fund raising and improves the material-technical base for the realisation of projects;
- It creates a unified informational base for research projects.
The Intercenter’s priority research topics include:
The socio-economical structure of modern Russian society
- The methodology behind defining the basic groups and layers of Russian society and their assignment to respective economic classes and social statuses;
- The level of income and the dynamics of said incomes for the population; the ideas of a living wage, low-income poverty, and wealth threshold;
- Innovative approaches to problems within the socio-economical structure and identification of the subjects of social changes.
The informal economy and the ex-polar forms of farming in modern Russia
- The typology of ex-polar farming patterns;
- The relations of authorities in local communities and the distribution of economic resources;
- The system of exchange of services in an informal economy
Strategies of economic survival for the population of modern Russia
- Ways of putting together a family budget;
- Strategies within the financial behavior of the population;
- The everyday practices of economic problem-solving in market economies and in the household.
The labor market and the structure of employment in modern Russia
- The partitioning of the labor market in basic branches of the economy;
- The structure and basic forms of unemployment;
- Labor mobility and migration
Small business in modern Russia
- Evolution in the sphere of small business and its social and economic function in the economic system;
- State and private mechanisms, enabling small business;
- A social portrait of the small business owner.
- The Transformational Process in Russia: Its Essence, Subjects, and Mechanisms (project leader - academician T. I. Zaslavskaya)
- Unlawful Social Practices in a Transforming Russia (project leaders - academician T. I. Zaslavskaya and Professor M. A. Shabanova)
- The Informal Economy and the Ex-polar Forms of Economy in Modern Russia (project leader - Professor T. Shanin)
- The Russian Peasant Revolution of 1902-1922 (project leader - Professor T. Shanin)
- Family Connections and Social Relationships (project leader - PhD Candidate, Department of Economic Sciences A. N. Nikulin)
- Communities and Privatization (project leader - PhD Candidate, Department of Economic Sciences A. N. Nikulin)
- The Future of the Youth in Russia (project leader - M. V. Klyatysheva)
- Quality Standards of Phone Surveys (project leader D. M. Rogozin)
Also, the Intercenter develops educational programmes in the systems of higher, secondary, and primary education and publishes scientific works addressing problems within the social sciences (from 1993 to 2004, 22 issues were published).
A separate area of the Intercenter’s activity entails organizing joint scientific, educational, and methodological events: educational courses, internships, symposia, and interdisciplinary and agrarian seminars (the head is А.М. Nikulin).
"What Is Russia Heading For?"
Since its creation, the Intercenter has organized and carried out an annual interdisciplinary symposium under the title "What Is Russia Heading For?" It is dedicated to the problems involved in the transformation of Russian society and is, at present, one of the most respected Russian forums for social scientists. The aim of the symposium is to create favorable conditions for interdisciplinary discussion. Each participant, irrespective of his or her specialisation, has a chance to listen to scientists specializing in different areas. The supervisor and chairman of the symposium’s organizing committee is academician Т.I. Zaslavskaya.
The main aim of holding annual symposia is to organize a regular, collective and, if possible, objective analysis of the process of social transformation within Russian society: overcoming Russia’s totalitarian heritage, the establishment of the new statehood, the development of political democracy, and the privatization of market economy. The main theme of the symposium, though still based within the framework of the general area of research, changes year after year. Among these themes are the following: "Alternatives of Social Development" (1994, 1995), "Social Transformation of the Post-Soviet Space" (1996), "Generalities and Particulars in Modern Development" (1997), "The Transformation of the Social Sphere and Social Politics" (1998), "The Institutional System Crisis: Century, Decade, Year" (1999), "Power, Society, Identity" (2000), "Factors of Macro-, Meso- and Microlevels of the Present Transformational Process" (2001), "Formal Institutes and Real Practices" (2002), and "Results of Social Transformation" (2003). At the end of each symposium, a special issue of materials is published in the general form of an almanac bearing the same thematic structure.
Regular variation of the discussion focus, reflected in the subtitle of the symposium, allows for discussion of the timeliest aspects of Russia’s development. Over the course of several years the subject matter of the symposia "What Is Russia Heading For?" has ranged from the most general discussion of Russia’s probable developmental paths to the analysis of historical factors, motive forces, and inner transformational mechanisms within Russian society. Outstanding scientists from the USA (W. Rosenberg, А. Broomberg, М. Levin, М. Von Hagen, I. Birman), Great Britain (А. Nove, D. Lane, W. Batler, F. Henson, А. McCauley), France (А. Berelovich, М. Mendra), Italy (М. Feretti), Germany (H. Steiner), and Hungary (Т. Pal), and also colleagues from Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and other countries of the CIS took part in the symposium.
STRUCTURE OF THE INTERCENTER
Executive Director – Marina Gennadievna Pugacheva, PhD in Economics
Head of the Centre for Research into the Social Transformations of Russian Society — Tatiana Ivanovna Zaslavskaya
Head of the Centre of Peasant Studies and Agrarian Reforms - Alexander Mikhailovich Nikulin
Research Scientists for the Intercenter: