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Russian Youth


Hilary Anne Pilkington, Elena Omel’chenko, Mona Flynn, and Uliana Bliudina. Looking West? Cultural Globalization and Russian Youth Culture. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.


A Russian young male from Ul’ianovsk reported, “Young people in the West do not differ from those in Moscow, only from provincial [young people].”


In interviews and surveys of Russian youth in three cities in the late 1990s, a group of researchers found two main categories. Tthe conventional  “normals” don’t have a subculture identity (like punk or metal) and don’t want to stand out in their style. Their focus is local, gathering with friends in a familiar territory near home or school, with drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana is common—they prided themselves on being more able to drink than Westerners. They represent most of the provincial youth. Consumerism may not be impactful when there is no money to buy western goods. A second group of the normals is called the new Russians who are conscious spenders of their money. The conventional yout complained more often than the progressives that their time was consumed by school work and organized sports and clubs.

The “progressives” or alternative youth groups identify themselves as westward looking, seeking new information, identifying themselves by subculture style and music. They are found in big cities like Moscow where they feel part of the nightclub scene and global information worlds. Reading is their third most popular pastime, and youth are the largest group of Internet users. Youth magazines feature news about music, film (including information about the private lives of movie stars) and fashion, including American and British influences and phrases. Although youth were attracted to Western music, films, MTV, fashion and the rule of law, they considered America superficial and unintellectual in contrast to Russian depth and soulfulness. While the West is individualistic and fun, but don’t even know their neighbors, Russians are communal. “Everything here is always shared, people are always trying to come together, we celebrate all our holidays together, and everyone tries to pull together all of the time,” according to a student from Ul’ianovsk. P. 83 Current photos of young Moscovites are available online.[i]



Thinking about globalization, some fear it will lead to a homogenized world dominated by American popular culture and consumerism—the “global imagination industries,” with a dominant core joined by Europe and Japan. Western modernizing missionaries are hard at work in every country, showing the local authorities and intellectuals how to eradiate traditional Eastern mentality…” [ii] France responded by requiring media to include a percentage of French music. Advertisers aim to win over a global youth market. Others view an interaction going both ways leading to hybridization with cultural exchanges.


Jacques Lacan suggested that in modern times the unconscious mind is shaped by media. http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004

[i] Photos 2009 Moscow celebration of “Day of the City” http://community.livejournal.com/russiamagazine/18952.html#cutid1

[ii] Panarin, 19998, p. 65 in Hilary Anne Pilkington, Elena Omel’chenko, Mona Flynn, and Uliana Bliudina. Looking West? Cultural Globalization and Russian Youth Culture. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002, p. 13.



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