The Society of Trauma as the Third Modality of Social Development (Experience of Interdisciplinary Research). Gold medal

The Society of Trauma as the Third Modality of Social Development (Experience of Interdisciplinary Research). Gold medal
Author: Toshchenko, Zhan T.
Almanac: Kondratieff waves:Processes, Cycles, Triggers, and Technological Paradigms


At present human development is confronted with the phenomenon which is still poorly studied and little known, which we call the society of trauma. The fact is that in the world there are significant events which cannot be defined by the former terms ‘evolution’ and ‘revolution’, describing occurring changes. The article attempts to prove that, along with the main traditional development paths – revolution and evolution one can say that in the modern world there is such a specific phenomenon as a society of trauma. It is shown how the concept of ‘trauma’ has acquired social significance and how it is conceived in philosophical, psychological and sociological literature. The author classifies the countries which have been stagnating in their development for a long time or are in recession, losing previously achieved milestones as societies of trauma. The article reveals the main characteristics of society of trauma, its causes, and the consequences of its functioning. Particular attention is paid to Russia, which, in the author's opinion, can be attributed to the societies of trauma since in its development, rejecting the socialist past, it did not reach the milestones from which it started its way. In this context, the paper provides the analysis of the obstacles that have not been overcome for the formation of a truly democratic, well-functioning society. In conclusion, the author presents proposals for evading this situation.

Keywords: civilization, revolution, evolution, trauma, development, social transformation, social consequences.

To the History of the Concept of ‘Trauma’

The term ‘trauma’ comes from the ancient Greek word ‘wound’. In modern medical and psychiatric literature, it is understood not only as a physical wound on the body, but also as a wound of consciousness, as a result of emotional shock, which violates the ‘awareness of time, oneself and the world’ (Caruth 1995: 6). Gradually, when studying trauma, they began to pay attention to its social content, as J. Habermas did when he linked it with the study of severe types of depression generated by the crisis in European society (Habermas 2001).

Modern definitions of trauma have led to attempts to consider its new interpretation as a special state of social processes, which are uncertainty, deformation, and diversity of their development. P. Sztompka used this concept when analyzing the problems of socio-cultural development (‘social and cultural trauma’). Describing the combination of changes taking place in the world as a whole, he considers traumas of culture as ‘social transformations’, which are based on ‘long-term, unforeseen, partly undetectable, with an unpredictable ending, processes driven by a collective agency and arising in the field of structural options (limited possibilities of action) inherited as a result of the early phases of these processes’ (Sztompka 2001: 6–7).

When studying the upheavals in Western societies, N. Smelser defined cultural trauma as ‘an exciting and overwhelming event that undermines one or more key elements of culture or culture as a whole’ (Smelser 2004: 38). D. Alexander argues that some events in the modern world are traumatic themselves, that is are the direct causes of the deforming effect (Alexander and Sztompka 1990). Z. Bauman described the traumatic impact on the fate of peoples and their national identity (Bauman 1989). According to R. Eyerman, some events, such as political assassinations, can create conditions for the emergence of social trauma (Eyerman 2013). The social interpretation of trauma began to be used in the analysis of other processes, for example, in the study of problems of collective identity, including religious and ethnic one (Eyerman et al. 2011).

As for domestic researchers, without using this term traumatic aspects were mentioned by M. F. Delyagin (2014) and R. S. Grinberg (2012) in economics; by Yu. A. Krasin (2003), V. K. Levashov (2015) in politics, by M. K. Gorshkov (2015) in social sphere, by O. N. Smolin (2015) and A. S. Zapesotsky (2014) in culture and education.

One can suppose that the interpretations of the ongoing changes given by the above-mentioned authors can be extended to the concept of a ‘society of trauma’ in the light of the contradictory, turbulent and deformed nature of modern social processes, when the analysis of the changes taking place in the world and in specific societies makes great sense in terms of explaining and understanding the essence of the ongoing transformations (catastrophes). While agreeing with the explanations of this concept in the case of specific economic, political, social and cultural processes in the world and domestic science, I wanted to clarify its application, offer different explanation, or rather, explain different approach – the urgent need to apply it to society and consider it as its traumatized state. The former modal development modalities – evolution and revolution – cannot be applied to them. However, such an idea of progress is the result of too much generalization and does not always correspond to reality: ‘… it is not impossible, for to picture world history as advancing smoothly and steadily without sometimes taking gigantic strides backward is undialectical, unscientific and theoretically wrong’ (Lenin 1981: 77).

Summarizing the available research on this issue, before defining social trauma, one should denote the traits, features and indicators that, in our opinion, are inherent in societies of trauma.

Basic Characteristic of Society of Trauma

Recall that there are currently 193 member states in the United Nations, although there are much more of them due to complete or partial non-recognition (Kosovo, Somaliland, Abkhazia, Karabakh, the Turkish part of Cyprus). According to the World Bank, 53 of these countries are in deep stagnation and/or recession. In addition, the UN provides food aid to 80 countries, saving the population from hunger. In other words, almost every fourth country in the world is experiencing a long period of ineffective existence. What are these countries?

First, the trauma in a number of societies began with the forcible overthrow of the existing political regime and the corresponding institutions of governance through military intervention (Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria). The intervention of external forces in these countries led to the fact that they did not cease constant bloody strife, not to mention the fact that in economic development, social security and guarantee of people's lives, not only did they not achieve success, but on the contrary, there was a degradation of all without exception spheres of society.

Secondly, the countries became the societies of trauma as a result of color revolutions, incompetent governing of the country and indecisive actions in relation to the objective needs of social development which led to internal cataclysms (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan). All the shocks that took place in these countries were held under the slogan of the urgency of cardinal changes, with the declaration of the need for serious shifts / transformations in the economy and social sphere, with the promise to achieve a decent life for people and their well-being. These slogans were accompanied by promises to increase the observance of human rights and freedoms. However, since their independence these countries even lost what they had before the collapse of the USSR.

Thirdly, a number of countries such as Zimbabwe, Chad, the Central African Republic experienced a violation of the logic of socio-economic and political development refusal to continue the previously accumulated experience, as a result of which they found themselves in the abyss of continuous economic crises, social and political instability.

Fourthly, previously successful countries which for one reason or another lost their pace of development also became trauma societies. Paradoxically, in the 1960s the Philippines were a model for all its neighbors and then turned into a state plagued by economic ulcers and social conflicts.

And finally, Russia should also be attributed to the society of trauma, which, as a result of turbulent development after three decades, did not achieve the socio-economic results that the RSFSR had in 1990, before the collapse of the USSR.

In other words, all these countries did not solve the main task – to achieve more worthy frontiers, to reach the positions dictated by the modern information age, to ensure people's well-being not so much at the level of developed countries, but at least at the level which people had before the catastrophic changes in these countries. This catastrophe in development is all the more obvious when compared with the fact that a similar problem was solved successfully and, most importantly, for several years – both by capitalist (Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea) and socialist countries (China, Vietnam) (Toshchenko 2020a).

Reasons for the Emergence of Society of Trauma

The society of trauma is characterized by a set of features that sharply and distinctly separate it from revolutionary changes or progressive evolutionary changes.

First of all, this society lacks a clear strategy and there is no understanding of development perspective. The planned transformations are reduced to focusing on the solution of particular problems, sometimes taking into account the experience of other countries (e.g., Georgia, Moldova, and now of Ukraine), or to the implementation of imposed recipes without taking into account national specifics (the experience of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya), and quite often within the framework of the policy of economic and military pressure. As for Russia, the question remains unclear and uncertain – what kind of society it forms (see Buzgalin and Kolganov 2015). Many recipes were discussed, but they were reduced mainly to abandoning the past socialist path of development, using recommendations based on the experience of other countries or simply some theoretically speculative constructions, such as the provisions of the Chicago school, whose conclusions were relied upon by the Russian liberals. There were a number of home-grown proposals that were based rather on fantasy than on science-based development programs.

As a result, the societies of trauma experience a loss and even a rollback from the frontiers that these countries possessed before embarking on the course of changing the vector of their development. Moreover, one can mention degradation, which has set these countries back. This also applies to Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Syria, all of which have a ruined national economy. This situation is inherent in modern Russia as well. We are talking not only about the loss of the pace of economic development, but also about the loss of previously achieved and still not restored. There is a fact that during the period of Gaidar's reforms in the 1990s, the country's national economy lost more than during the Great Patriotic War. The 2000s did little to remedy this. It is the lack of a competent economic strategy in Russia that led to the fact that 25 years ago Russia's GDP was three times higher than China's, and now China surpasses the Russian Federation in this indicator by six times (Ilyina and Zharova 2016: 13).

The lack of a development strategy in trauma societies is due to the fact that they do not have active, driving, creative forces, personified by the ‘collective agency’ (Sztompka 2001: 7), which would guide the desired transformations through a clear, well-thought-out program of action based on objective laws of development. Having access to a fund of structural and cultural resources, the official authorities, without a development strategy, at the same time carry out impulsive actions that often look like imitation of activity. As a result, the development model of modern Russia ‘can be represented as a bicycle, in which the steering wheel is socialist and the pedals are capitalist’ (Livshits 2013: 202).

The societies of trauma are characterized by the conversion of power resources into capital and capital into power, since political power is seen as
a source of income, justification and cover for dubious shares in the economic and financial market (Grinberg 2012). The incomprehensible situation in economic development, generated in Russia by the fruitless and destructive influence of liberal politics, led to the exclusion of the majority of Russians from participation in the work of state and public organizations: 80.3 % do not belong to any public organization, and 93.7 % believe that that they do not have any influence on government decisions (Toshchenko 2016: 356–357).

It is in this context that there arises the question of state ideology, which, along with other worldviews existing in society, would formulate development prospects, taking into account the deep interests of the population. In the meantime, there is, on the one hand, the prevalence of assertions that there can be no state ideology, with reference to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and, on the other hand, the constant repetition of general declarations about the need for a democratic society, absolutely devoid of specifics and understandable to most people. As a result, Russia has a political regime, which a number of authors define as non-ideological (Gaman-Golutvina 2006; Lukin A. and Lukin P. 2015). It is true that in the country, instead of forming a national-state identity, there is a spontaneous search for ways to transform ethnic, regional and local self-awareness, which, in spite of their importance, cannot replace ideological guidelines and the idea of uniting the people. At the same time, the historical experience is completely ignored, i.e. the fact that none of the current and past states can do without an official ideology, while recognizing the possibility of the simultaneous existence of other ideological orientations. The attempts to formulate a national idea have failed, since they reflected the hypothetical ideas of certain representatives of the ruling strata of Russia or the proposals of some scholars, but not the aspirations and desires of the people.

In societies of trauma, the ruling circles do not take into account (ignore) or absolutize (exaggerate) national specifics, what has been accumulated by countries in their historical development. So, in Russian society, the experience of not only the Soviet, but also the previous historical, past is completely and categorically rejected, proceeding from a deliberately pernicious attitude – there was nothing positive in former Russia and especially in the USSR. As a result, the economic and social life is in a state of collapse, for example the main part of high-tech production in the space industry, machine-building, aircraft industry. For instance in 1990, about 74,200 metal-cutting machines were produced in our country, which were purchased even by the FRG, in 2014 only 2,700. As for weaving machines, about 18,300 were produced in 1990 and in 2014 their number was 79, respectively. In agriculture, even effectively functioning collective and state farms were thoughtlessly disbanded, and many successfully developing farms were lost. In 2014, there were 247,300 tractors in agricultural organizations (in 1990 – 1,345,600), 64,600 (in 1990 – 407,800) harvesters, and 2,400 (in 1990 – 25,300) beet harvesters. Similar comparisons can be continued (Uzun and Shagaida 2015).

As for the hypertrophication of national identities, this path most clearly demonstrates the nation-building in Ukraine.

The stimulation of ethno-political conflicts and the promotion of the ideology and system of values that divide ethnic groups and nations according to their relation to freedom, democracy and prosperity is one of the key components in the general strategy of chaotization of the social substrate of unconsolidated regimes (Lapkin 2016: 61).

But of particular importance is the fact that in societies of trauma there has been an unjustified and inexplicable from the point of view of not only theory, but also of common sense increase in social inequality. According to the Global Wealth Report, the share of the richest 1% of Russians account for 71 % of all personal assets in Russia. For comparison, in such large countries as India and Indonesia it is 49 % and 46 %, respectively. In the USA it is 37 %, in China – 32 %, in Japan – 17 %. Worldwide, this figure is 46 %, in Europe – 32 %. In addition, Russia leads the world in terms of the share of the wealthiest 5 % of the population, who own 82.5 % of the country's total wealth, and in terms of the 10 % of the wealthiest citizens, who own 87.6 % of the same wealth. And if we take such an indicator as the wealth of billionaires, Russian billionaires own 30 % of all personal assets of Russian citizens. On average, worldwide, billionaires own only 2 % of all personal assets. In China, they own only 1–2 %, in the United States, where there are 400 billionaires, their share is only 7 % of the total wealth of all Americans. In addition, in the context of falling real incomes of Russians in 2019, the incomes of the ten richest families compared to the previous year increased by 40 % – from 18 billion to 25 billion dollars.

Hence, it is clear in whose interests, for whose benefit a coup d'etat (not a revolution) was committed, which not only changed the socio-political structure of the country, but also destroyed the country itself, and not only its economy, but also the level of social equality, under which the population of the country called the Soviet Union lived. The problem of the authorities is how to behave in this situation: after all, as we know that the largest fortunes are earned or acquired unfairly and that equalization requires super-high taxes on income and wealth. It is obvious that without certain forms of coercion, the situation cannot be changed. But a violent approach is hardly advisable, because the problem is that Russia not only fulfilled the plan for upheaval and revolutions, but also exceeded it. But it is also hardly advisable to wait for an evolutionary, gradual development (in case it goes away). Under these conditions, political will is required, the turn of economic policy in the direction in which a relatively fair society is built, for example, in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, in which the profit tax is from 40 to 65 %. In these circumstances, the society does not understand why the economic bloc of the government which in somewhat different versions continues the Yeltsin-Gaidar reforms is not eliminated, despite the fact that their implementation for more than a quarter century not only did not lead to growth, but they did not also reach those economic results that the country achieved in 1990. It is noteworthy in this regard that one of the initiators of market reforms, one of the architects of perestroika, the former mayor of Moscow G. Popov, stated, ‘Over the decade of Yeltsin no real market or real competition as the driving forces of the economy in Russia has appeared. Telman Ismailov's Cherkizon (‘black’, criminal market – author's note – Zh.T.) appeared. There was no economic recovery. There was no large-scale growth in the well-being of the masses’ (Popov 2015: 16). Gradually, the majority of people came to the conclusion that the pro-Western liberal policy should come to an end.

Deformed processes reflecting the trauma of society, rather than a revolutionary or non-evolutionary development path are taking place in the political sphere as well. Demagogy of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘human rights’ does not correlate in any way with reality and the pressing aspirations (desires) of people. The words of the world's greatest sociologist P. A. Sorokin are still relevant today:

States and countries will remain as selfish, predatory as before – those who believe that the spread of democratic forms of government will change this, forget that the so-called democracies of the past and present are just as imperialistic, like autocracies (Sorokin 1999: 9).

The deformation of politics also manifested itself in the fact that Yeltsin chose the path of the follower, the path of denial of great power status. Russia was gradually becoming a state with which almost all countries ceased to reckon or they even began to push around and demand all sorts of concessions, agreements. It took time for Putin's policy to begin to overcome this syndrome of submission, unaccountable obedience to everything that the United States and European countries wanted. It is noteworthy that the return to the recognition of the importance of Russia in the modern world is taking place with the almost unanimous support of the population for this new foreign policy course. According to the All-Russian study ‘The Life World of Russians’ (RGGU, October 25–30, 2014, 18 regions of the country, 1,750 people, taking into account a representative sample by gender, education, marital status, place of residence, forms of ownership and work experience), 47. 2 % stated that they would like Russia to return to the status of a great power, along with 63.2 % of those who want the country to respect justice and equal rights for all (Toshchenko 2016: 364).

Russian society was traumatized by those groups that were in power and took over most of the media. Most of the representatives of these groups, which are mistakenly called the elite, suffered from pathological hatred of everything Soviet, demanded and still demand a policy of de-sovietisation, ‘de-com-munization’, and even ‘de-Russification’. In their opinion, there was nothing positive, acceptable, and worthy during the existence of the Soviet Union. Therefore, down with everything: the State Planning Committee (despite the fact that planning structures exist in many countries of Western Europe), state property and the state itself (it is assigned the role of ‘night watchman’). But being unable to carry out strategic tasks, their efforts were focused, for example, on such ‘feats’ as renaming the central streets of Moscow – Pushkinskaya street into Bolshaya Dmitrovka, Chekhov street into Malaya Dmitrovka (as if the great Russian writers did not deserve such recognition). But what mattered to liberal radicals was the fact that this street was once laid out by Boyar Dimitry. In addition, the essence of this ‘principled’ act was that these streets were named in this way under Soviet rule. Therefore, it was decided to get rid of these names. This shameful pettiness manifested itself literally in everything – in the renaming of political authorities, in imitation of the West (introduction of the position of ‘mayor’, why not the head of the city or a headman?), in the transition to the so-called Bologna system in education, etc.

It was the society of trauma in Russia that gave rise to the phenomenon that can reasonably be called phantom faces, guided in their actions only by these orientations: to have capital, to be in power and to be in the center of public attention (for more details see Delyagin 2014; Toshchenko 2015).

When interpreting the ongoing processes from the standpoint of the two main characteristics of the directions of development – ‘revolution’ and ‘evolution’ – it is still impossible to cover and explain all the diversity of real, but unique processes and events. Therefore, in our opinion, it is necessary to use the concept of ‘trauma’ as a specific, intermediate option between the named paths of development.

Thus, summarizing the above, one should state that the trauma of a society is a long-term state of uncertainty in its development, characterized by a deep deformation of economic, social, political, spiritual and cultural processes and having unforeseen social consequences. A society of trauma is characterized by the absence of strategic goals, chaotic actions, inability to mobilize active creative forces to implement the program of action and overcome destructive changes. The activity of political and economic actors acquires a special role, leading to unpredictable effects due to the inconsistency of their actions, embodying purely corporate and group selfish interests.

Social Consequences in a Traumatized Society

In all (53) the above-mentioned countries that are in deep stagnation, taking into account the characteristics of each of them, there was disorientation and disorganization of public life. Practically none of them put forward a clear long-term program for transforming state and public life. It is obvious that after turbulent events in each of them at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries, after waiting for positive changes, negative changes that were unacceptable for the population took place – the plundering of national wealth and its concentration in the hands of a relatively small group of people, the growth of corruption, unemployment, the division of society into rich and poor, the priority of profit, the loss of social protection, the failure to comply with the principles of justice. The public conscience in these countries, including Russia, was severely traumatized, because this situation led to the loss of the previous guidelines, and new ones could not be formed (Linetskiy 2016; Somov 2015).

In this situation, the real processes taking place in the public consciousness in these countries demonstrate another important traumatic feature: it becomes conflictual, acutely, but not always adequately reacting to what is happening in life. For many years after the proclamation of reforms, Russians lived with the expectation that corruption and other negative processes would be curbed and that new changes would definitely make life better. But the years passed and instead of positive changes they received not only the conservation of the past, but also an offensive situation for them, accompanied by the enrichment of the people involved in power and the massive impoverishment of people. Thus, conditions are created for passive expectation of change to develop into an active public protest, which does not always bring to power the forces that defend the interests of the people.

The anxiety of people in societies of trauma is not unfounded because they are convinced that both pre-existing and existing political power does not reflect the positions of the majority of the population, but focuses on the interests of two groups – the state bureaucracy and the wealthy. Such an assessment could not but affect the decrease in trust in the political system and basic political institutions. The analysis of the data shows that trauma begins with a negative assessment of the political leadership, many times exceeding the percentage of positive assessments (Fedorov 2010).

There is an axiom in political concepts: ‘People cannot be deceived. If this happens, then not for long’. The promises of color or other revolutions are usually met with approval and inspiration at first (most people admit that ‘one cannot live like that’). But soon people quickly realize the viciousness and the failure of the proposed reforms, which leads to the political death of many ‘creators’ of the reforms. This is especially evident in relation to the fate of the Soviet Union. And to this day, more than two thirds (about 65 %) of the population regret the collapse of the Soviet Union (recall that in March 1991, at the All-Union Refe-rendum, 73 % voted in favor of the preservation of the Soviet Union).

Such characteristics as criticality and even intransigence to other views and ideas are increasingly becoming inherent in public consciousness in traumatized countries. People do not want to put up with poverty, failures, corruption, embezzlement, crime, the existence of which many politicians try to explain by objective reasons. In these conditions, the level of rejection of the implemented and proposed transformations in economic and social life continues to remain high. With the praise and justification of pseudo-market transformations, with the triumph of corruption schemes and shady (criminal) social practices, negative assessments of the socio-economic situation and its consequences for public and private life do not decrease and even grow. With regard to Russia, this is revealed in many sociological studies that have shown the growth of anomie with the loss of worldview orientations (Toshchenko 2020b).

The trauma is also inflicted because the expectations at the beginning of the promised reforms in reality were not met. The analysis of the situation in these traumatized countries shows that a very contradictory, paradoxical picture is emerging. On the one hand, in the early stages, there is an increase in confidence in some promises and even the upcoming changes. On the other hand, assessments of these changes gradually deteriorated in terms of the impact of these parameters on people's lives. It is especially striking that for a number of indicators unemployment and the level of well-being practically not only did not change, but even worsened. Some researchers have noted an increase in poverty after the so-called revolutions in Iraq and Libya, not to mention Afghanistan and a number of newly independent states – Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan.

These data characterize another feature of the trauma of society – the divergence of interests, expectations and judgments with the results of the upheaval and changes that have occurred, with an understanding of how much they do not correlate with official statements, with the ongoing transformations. The trauma of society is also manifested in the fact that confusion and paradoxical behavior grows in the public consciousness, which allows people to move from one position to another, even under the influence of random circumstances. Moreover, despite the diversity of worldviews, all people have hope for a comfortable and stable life in their country, and for a positive assessment of development prospects. This is clearly demonstrated by the analysis of people's perception of the world, both in terms of fundamental problems and the problems of everyday life, which they are guided by when making decisions, both current and prospective (Gorshkov 2015; Levashov 2015).

Among the traumatic components of public consciousness in these countries, one should note that the product of systematic deception, dramatically changed living conditions have become such features of public consciousness and social practices that cannot be ignored when assessing their state and trends – the increasing influence of isolationism and nationalism and the decreasing influence of humanism and tolerance.

An analysis of the traumas of social development allows us to draw another conclusion: under these contradictory, turbulent conditions there is a sharp increase of weight and influence on society of various ambitious and revanchist forces striving for power various ambitious and revanchist forces striving for power, for which two main goals – market and democracy – are only a cover for achieving selfish group goals. For this purpose, various statements are used, like, as D. A. Medvedev did during his premiership, appealing to the authority of J. Schumpeter and stating that Russia ‘is going through another stage of creative (!?) destruction’.

Where is the Way Out?

Thus, such a feature in life of a number of countries, including Russia, as their trauma, expressed in the split, contradictory and conflicting development acquired particular importance. At the same time, there is no doubt that societies of trauma cannot exist forever: under certain circumstances, they must come out of this crisis.

How is it seen when applied to Russia?

In the 1990s – 2000s, steps were repeatedly taken to reach new frontiers of economic and social development. At first, it was privatization with its concomitants – devaluation of the ruble, loans-for-shares auctions, creation of oligarchic capitalism, which led to a complete defeat of the national economy. Then there were the developmental projects in health care, agriculture, education, proclaimed by D. Medvedev when he was prime minister, but they proved to be unsustainable and are now forgotten by everyone. Then there were four I's – Institutions, Infrastructure, Innovation and Investments – which also did nothing to the country. As part of these ambitious projects, there was created the expensive Skolkovo project, which, according to the President of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences N. Ageev, is ‘a marble telephone receiver in the hands of the old genie Hottabych’ (magician from oriental tales – author's note – Zh.T.), and according to Professor L. Graham, an expensive, dubious act, from which ‘most likely Western companies will benefit’ (Graham 2016).

To get out of the traumatized state, it is necessary that ‘the main motives of socially useful economic and political life…<are> not profit or power, but the motive of creative service to society’ (Sorokin 1999: 7).

Lauren Graham, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, speaking at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in May 2016, figuratively formulated the paradoxical state of modern Russia, ‘You need milk without a cow’. He proposed the same thing as Pitirim Sorokin, it is necessary to unleash the creative forces not only of business, but also the creative potential of as many people as possible, who personify the ‘scientific genius of the Russian people’, as well as social reforms that would not only satisfy the needs of the people, but also fuel new technologies in the economy (Graham 2016). In other words, these judgments express the essence of the initial base of successful transformations that allow to get out of the traumatized state – the solution of social problems that will have a beneficial effect on the solution of both economic and political problems.

And the reaction to the almost unanimous opinion of the expert society (and not only it) about the need for a radical change in the economic course of the government was the recent act of the President of the Russian Federation, who decided to create another council, alternative to the Strategic Research Council under the leadership of Alexey Kudrin (one of the prominent representatives of Liberalism in Russia – author's note – Zh.T.), to develop (prepare) a draft of a new socio-economic course of the country.

All this allows us to conclude that the trauma of society and in society occurs when a form of disorganization, displacement, inconsistency in economic, social and political life appears, in other words, when the context of human life and social actions loses homogeneity, consistency and stability, becoming different, even with the opposite meaning.


Alexander J. C., and Sztompka P. (Eds.) 1990. Rethinking Progress: Movements, Forces and Ideas of the End of the 20th Century. London: Routledge.

Bauman Z. 1989. Modernity and the Holocaust. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Buzgalin A. V., and Kolganov A. N. 2015. Global Capital. In 2 vols. V.1. Moscow: URSS. In Russian (Бузгалин А. В. Колганов А. Н. Глобальный капитал. В 2 т. Т. 1. М.: URSS).

Caruth C. 1995. Trauma. Explorations in Memory. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Delyagin M. 2014. The Collapse of Optimistic Illusions and the Starting Point of Economic Recovery. Rossiyskiy ekonomicheskii zhurnal 1: 19–23. In Russian (Делягин М. Крах оптимистических иллюзий и отправной пункт экономического оздоровления. Российский экономический журнал 1: 19–23).

Eyerman R. 2013. Social Theory and Trauma. Acta sociologica 12(1): 121–138.

Eyerman R., Alexander J. C., and Breese E. B. 2011. Narrating Trauma: On the Impact of Collective Suffering. Boulder: Paradigm Publisher.

Fedorov V. V. 2010. Russian Choice. Introduction to the Theory of Electoral Behavior. Moscow: Praxis. In Russian (Федоров В. В. Русский выбор. Введение в теорию электорального поведения. М.: Праксис).

Gaman-Golutvina O. V. 2006. Political Elites of Russia: Milestones of Historical Evolution. Moscow: ROSSPEN. In Russian (Гаман-Голутвина О. В. Политические элиты России: вехи исторической эволюции. М.: РОССПЭН).

Gorshkov M. K. 2015. Russian Society and the Challenges of the Time. Moscow: Noviy Khronograf. In Russian (Горшков М. К. Российское общество и вызовы времени. М.: Новый Хронограф).

Grinberg R. S. 2012. On the New ‘Big Privatization’ and Other ‘Unpopular Reforms’. Russkiy ekonomicheskiy zhurnal 3: 27–32. In Russian (Гринберг Р. С. О новой «большой приватизации» и прочих «непопулярных реформах». Российский экономический журнал 3: 27–32).

Graham L. 2016. Russia Can Offer Great Ideas but is Not Able to Use Them. Novaya Gazeta. July 25. In Russian (Грэм Л. Россия может предложить великие идеи, но не в состоянии ими воспользоваться. Новая газета. 25 июля).

Habermas J. 2001. The Post-National Constellation and the Future Democracy. The Post-National Constellation: Political Essays / Ed. by M. Pensky, pp. 58–112. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Ilyina I. E., and Zharova E. N. 2016. 25 Years of Market Reforms in Russia and the World. What is Next? Predprinimatelstvo 2: 6–23. In Russian (Ильина И. Е., Жарова Е. Н. 25 лет рыночных реформ в России и мире. Что дальше? Предпринимательство 2: 6–23).

Krasin Yu. A. 2003. Political Self-Determination of Russia: Problems of Choice. Polis 4: 114–124. In Russian (Красин Ю. А. Политическое самоопределение России: проблемы выбора. Полиc 4: 114–124).

Lapkin V. V. 2016. Problems of Nation-Building in Multi-Ethnic Post-Soviet Societies: Ukrainian Case in a Comparative Perspective. Polis 4: 54–64. In Russian (Лапкин В. В. Проблемы национального строительства в полиэтнических постсоветских обществах: украинский казус в сравнительной перспективе. Полис 4: 54–64).

Levashov V. K. 2015. Reforms and Crises: Thirty Years Later. Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya 10: 31–38. In Russian (Левашов В. К. Реформы и кризисы: тридцать лет спустя. Социологические исследования 10: 31–38).

Lenin V. I. 1981. About the Junius Brochure. Complete Works, pp. 1–16. 5th ed. Vol. 30. Moscow: Politizdat. In Russian (Ленин В. И. О брошюре Юниуса. Полн. собр. соч.: в 55 т. 5-е изд. Т. 30, с. 1–16. М.: Политиздат).

Linetskiy A. I. 2016. The Mechanism of the Influence of Political Institutions on the Course of Economic Development. Polis 2: 152–170. In Russian (Линецкий А. И. Механизм воздействия политических институтов на ход экономического развития. Полис 2: 152–170).

Livshits V. N. 2013. System Analysis of the Market Reforming of the Non-Stationary Economy of Russia: 1992–2013. Moscow: USSR. In Russian (Лившиц В. Н. Системный анализ рыночного реформирования нестационарной экономики России: 1992–2013. М.: USSR).

Lukin A. V., and Lukin P. V. 2015. To Understand Russia with the Mind. Moscow:

Ves mir. In Russian (Лукин А. В., Лукин П. В. Умом Россию понимать. М.: Весь мир).

Popov G. 2015. 250 years in the Service of the Fatherland. Predprinimatelstvo 6: 15–39. In Russian (Попов Г. 250 лет на службе Отечества. Предпринимательство 6: 15–39).

Smelser N. J. 2004. Psychological Trauma and Cultural Trauma. Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity / Ed. by J. C. Alexander, R. Eyerman, B. Giesen, N. J. Smelser, and P. Sztompka, pp. 31–59. Berkeley – Los Angeles – London: University of California Press.

Smolin O. N. 2015. Higher Education: A Struggle for Quality or an Encroachment on Human Potential? Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya 6: 91–101. In Russian (Смолин О. Н. Высшее образование: борьба за качество или покушение на человеческий потенциал? Социологические исследования 6: 91–101).

Somov V. A. 2015. The Phenomenon of Sovietness: The Historical and Cultural Aspect. Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya 2: 12–20. In Russian (Сомов В. А. Феномен советскости: историко-культурный аспект. Социологические исследования 2: 12–20).

Sorokin P. A. 1999. Conditions and Prospects for a World without War. Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya 5: 3–12. In Russian (Сорокин П. А. Условия и перспективы мира без войны. Социологические исследования 5: 3–12).

Sztompka P. 2001. Social Change as Trauma. Sotsiologicheskiye issledovaniya 1: 6–16. In Russian (Штомпка П. Социальное изменение как травма. Социологические исследования 1: 6–16).

Toshchenko Zh. T. 2015. Phantoms of Russian Society. Moscow: Center for Social Forecasting and Marketing. In Russian (Тощенко Ж. Т. Фантомы российского общества. М.: Центр социального прогнозирования и маркетинга).

Toshchenko Zh. T. (Ed.) 2016. The Life World of Russians: 25 Years Later (Late 1980s – Mid-2010s). Moscow: Social Research Center. In Russian (Тощенко Ж. Т. (Ред.) Жизненный мир россиян: 25 лет спустя (конец 1980-хсередина 2010-х гг.). М.: Центр социол. исследований).

Toshchenko Zh. T. 2020a. Society of Trauma: Between Evolution and Revolution (The Experience of Theoretical and Empirical Analysis). M.: Ves mir. In Russian (Тощенко Ж. Т. Общество травмы: между эволюцией и революцией (опыт теоретического и эмпирического анализа). М.: Весь мир).

Toshchenko Zh. T. (Ed.) 2020b. Precariat: The Emergence of a New Class. Moscow: Center for Social Forecasting and Marketing. In Russian (Тощенко Ж. Т. (Ред.) Прекариат: становление нового класса. М.: Центр социального прогнозирования и маркетинга).

Uzun V. Y., and Shagaida N. I. 2015. Agrarian Reform in Post-Soviet Russia: Mechanisms and Results. Moscow: Delo. In Russian (Узун В. Я., Шагайда Н. И. Аграрная реформа в постсоветской России: механизмы и результаты. М.: Дело).

Zapesotsky A. S. 2014. Culture: A View from Russia. Saint-Petersburg: SPbGUP. In Russian (Запесоцкий А. С. Культура: взгляд из России. СПб.: СПбГУП).