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ESA 2013 - Crisis, Critique, Change

ESA 2013 took place in Turin, Italy from 28 to 31 August 2013. Our Lab presented three papers there.

The conference ESA 2013 – Crisis, Critique and Change took place in Turin, in Italy from 28 to 31 August 2013. The conference was organized jointly by ESA and the Department of Culture, Politics and Society at the University of Turin. Our Lab presented three papers. 

Technical College as a Low-Risk Strategy in the Face of Economic Uncertainty, Ksenia TenishevaDaniel Alexandrov and Svetlana Savelieva.

The proposed paper views educational choice between academic and vocational tracks from the vantage point of risk aversion in the face of uncertainty. J.Goldthorpe and R.Breen suggested that when making educational choice individuals try to avoid the risk of status loss, which could inhibit their upward mobility. In Russia these days the most direct pathway to tertiary education is via academic high school. It implies higher costs, delayed entry to the labor market, and the risk of dropout or future unemployment. The second important pathway to tertiary education is via technical college after which many students make a lateral transfer to university and can transfer credits for advanced courses they took in the third year of technical college. We suppose that vocational schools are chosen by students with working class backgrounds, technical colleges are the choice of the lower middle class, and staying on academic track with going to university after the 11th grade – that of the middle and upper strata. We use data from long-term mixed-method research: interviews with 9th graders and their parents, a local survey of 500 9th graders from 18 schools in a district of the Leningrad Region and a large scale survey of 100 schools and 7500 students in St. Petersburg. In both urban and rural areas about 13% of students after the 9th grade choose technical colleges to further proceed 476 to tertiary institution. This is a strategy of lower middle-class families, who value higher education but are pragmatic enough to care about warranted future employment. It allows them to have persified options and a fall back strategy of having technical qualifications at hand to enter the labor market in case they fail in university.

Migration, Ethnicity and Identity Politics on Social Network Sites in the former Soviet UnionAlexey Gorgadze and Daniel Alexandrov

Many young people from the Caucasus (both from independent states and the republics of North Caucasus) live in respective diasporas in many cities all around the Russian Federation as their parents moved there earlier or because they went to study in Russian universities. Social network sites provide them with powerful tools to form e-diasporas and engage in identity work and boundary work, forging networked virtual communities with different identity labels. We study diaspora groups from the Caucasus on VKontakte (VK), the Russian social network service most popular among young Internet users in the FSU with about 195 million accounts by December 2012. Certain open features of VK profiles allow for analysis of geographic mobility and the educational background of users, for example, how many graduates of high school in Baku (Azerbaijan) are now studying in universities in different cities. Another important feature is the ability to make 'friendship' ties between groups and public pages, which allows for network analysis on a group level. In particular we are interested in groups and public pages that create virtual communities with local identities (“We are from Baku”) or regional 'supra-ethnic' identities (“Men from Caucasus are cool” or “United Caucasus”). Many users participate both in ethnic groups narrowly defined ("True Armenians" or "Real Azeri Men") and 'supra-ethnic' groups at the same time. We will present the data on ethnic, gender and geographic composition of different groups, on their activity, and on inter-group ties. We will discuss the issues of migration, gender, language and ethnicity as bearing on identity performances and identity politics in online communities of migrant youth.

Sociometric Popularity in the School ContextVera TitkovaValeria Ivaniushina and Daniel Alexandrov.

Peer popularity and acceptance plays a central role in adolescent socialization, integration into school life, and the formation of attitudes. In particular, peer relations have an essential but controversial role in the development of pro-school and anti-school attitudes, and thus determining (in part) academic success or failure in school. Our research is focused on the relation between academic context, students’ academic achievement and her/his popularity. We surveyed 98 schools in Saint Petersburg (5058 students in 270 classes) eliciting social networks of friendship for each class. Attitudes towards school were measured by 9-items study involvement scale (Van Houtte 2006). Multi-level hierarchical modeling (HLM 7) has been used for data analysis. We hypothesized that in classes with high level of academic motivation individual academic success is positively related to popularity among peers while in classes with low level academic motivation the relation between popularity and academic success is negative. We also assumed that effect is gender-specific: stronger for girls and weaker for boys. Results show that for the girls good grades are positively related to popularity regardless of class academic context. For the boys relations between academic achievement and popularity depends on academic context: in classes with a low level of academic motivation good grades are negatively related to popularity, while in classes with high levels of academic motivation the relation is positive. We have also found different effects of school and class context: the academic motivation of a class is more important than the motivation of the school. The potential context’s mechanism of school and class will be discussed.