Informal Practices of the Russian Elite (An Approbation of Cognitive Approach) 26
The article discusses prospects for the so-called cognitive approach to be applied when studying informal practices of Russian power elites. Proceeding from the postulate that participants of informal interaction possess certain common (institutional) knowledge, which includes: (a) criteria of orientation within the field of interaction, and, among these, criteria for judging as to “correctness” of one’s own and of others’ behaviour, (b) coherent objectivated idea of these practices, and (c) their substantiation at the level of comprehending an institution’s social function or mission, — the author analyzes informal practices of the regional elite of St. Petersburg. A series of pilot interviews among people occupying high status positions in the political, economic and administrative spheres of municipal governance, constitutes the empirical basis of the research. According to the author’s conclusion, the system of interaction within the circles of the Russian elite has formed as an institution in view of the practices and institutional knowledge becoming structured, but it has not become an institution as implying a sense-generating activity constructing the “public meaning” and social identity of the individuals included.
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