Ideological Change under Vladimir Putin in the Perspective of Social Identity Theory
- Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization
- Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University
- Volume 23, Number 4, Fall 2015
- pp. 401-426
- Additional Information
This article places Russia’s recent ideological developments in a perspective that is drawn from social identity theory (SIT). The analysis presents examples of all three of the identity management strategies that SIT describes – social mobility, social competition, and social creativity – in the words and actions of Soviet and Russian leaders from the Brezhnev period to the present time. During 2012 and 2013 the Putin regime adopted a new strategy of identity management, for the first time in the post-Soviet years placing primary emphasis on social creativity. That change in approach has involved the open endorsement of an ideology that Russia’s political leadership calls “conservatism.” In the ideology of the Putin regime, hostility toward the West has assumed an increasingly prominent position, as Putin charges that the West is generating the most basic threats to Russia’s identity, its security, and its domestic stability. Putin’s increasingly anti-Western outlook has been reflected in his denunciation of the alleged disintegration of traditional moral standards in Western countries. This article also notes that Putin’s emphasis on the importance of a unity of moral values for members of the Russian national community calls into question his previous pledge that the state will not interfere in the personal life of each citizen.