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Our impressions of the summer student expedition

Hello dears! 
We would like to share our impressions of the summer student expedition, which is held in the Kaluga region of Russia. Moscow campus of Higher School of Economics has been implementing the “Rediscovering Russia" program for several years, which funds student research expeditions to different regions of Russia on a competitive basis.

This year St. Petersburg is also involved in the project. 14 students from the second, third and fourth years, master students, as well as a team of researchers from the SES Lab went to the small village of Gorki, near the town of Kondrovo in order to implement the full range of their knowledge and skills to study current problems of youth. The official name of our expedition is “Teenagers in a small Russian city and countryside”. The choice of the region is due to the fact that SESL has been collecting data on schools for a long time - together with the project “Teacher for Russia” in Kaluga region. Two waves of students survey on the topic of bullying, attitude to school and teachers, and involvement in learning has been conducted. Now we have to supplement the quantitative data with qualitative explanations. The main methods of data collection in our expedition are interviews and observation technique. 

Preliminary results show that in rural areas, most schools focus on social work rather than on academic achievements. At the same time, schools aimed at top educational outcomes demonstrate a high level of intra-school segregation: students of one class show high motivation and discipline, while their peers from another class often exhibit deviant behavior and indifference to their career paths planning.

Data on bullying illustrates that in schools with a high rate of aggression teachers are not involved in solving current conflicts between students. Moreover, not only local minorities students (migrant children, children from social rehabilitation centers), but also those who differ from the group majority due to academic performance, interests and appearance are the most exposed to aggression. 

Digital anthropology group focuses on understanding the current trends of social networks usage. The most popular social network site Vkontakte has become a public field of interaction for not only young people but also their parents and teachers who apply new practices of content control (they create fake pages; monitor ‘likes’, ‘shares’, subscriptions). We have found sophisticated ways to configure privacy as a response to this excessive supervision that is related not only to personal data (for example, family photos), but also personal preferences (music or subscriptions to thematic groups). Cyberbullying is also an essential part of our work: we have revealed cases connected to sending awkward photos, creating memes with the victim of aggression and exclusion from the community due to a violation of accepted norms. 

In conclusion, we would like to note that the students not only improved their theoretical knowledge and practical skills associated with quality scientific approach, but also spent a great time, made friends between courses of different ages, and enjoyed a summer vacation outdoors in a company of highly motivated people.