Conditions and Limitations of Lifestyle Plurality in Siberia (2008-2012)

"Conditions and Limitations of Lifestyle Plurality in Siberia" (published in the Institute’s Working Papers series) is the main research programme of the Siberian Studies Centre for the period 2008-2012. The aim of the programme is to describe the preconditions and processes that lead to the differentiation of lifestyles; to explore the scope and dimensions of indifference to or social recognition or intolerance of different models of behaviour; and to determine how certain models come to be dominant (and thus habitualised), while others are marginalised.

Patterns of consumption and the ways that people spend their free time have markedly changed over the last few decades. Periods of economic growth and downturn have created new dimensions of social inequality. While taking these factors into account, our analysis goes beyond notions of lifestyle defined solely in terms of consumption and taste; rather, it addresses the norms, predilections, orientations and convictions with reference to which people make decisions in the course of their lives, bond with others, and present themselves in public. On the one hand, there are many signs of a growing diversity of lifestyles in Siberia (and in Russia generally); on the other hand, the pervasive discourse on patriotism, family values, and methods of education indicates a normative tendency, with the likely result that space for alternative lifestyles and projects will be limited. Within the framework of the programme, two investigations are currently underway: (1) Changing habits of travelling, and (2) Visual forms of self-presentation.

Changing Habits of Travelling

This research focus is devoted to the role of travel in people’s biographies. Of interest here are not only tourists and providers of recreational facilities, but also long-distance commuters, settler populations and their links to the “mainland”, traders, professional travellers, and individuals who combine life in the tundra or taiga with life in the settlement. Changing habits of travelling point to changing degrees and meanings of mobility for the individual. Beyond that, we want to examine the significance that these journeys or spaces have in people’s lives, how people interpret them and how (if at all) they interpret them as elements in coherent stories about themselves. There are several important developments that trigger interest in this field of research:

  1. the collapse of aviation in the 1990s (with the consequence that many people in Siberia found themselves “trapped”, so to speak, as they could not travel at all);
  2. the recent “return” of aviation (we have to check to what extent this is also the case in remote areas of Siberia);
  3. better accessibility by car, and a larger number of cars, in many parts of Siberia;
  4. the rapid development of tourism – to and within Siberia, but also from Siberia to European and other countries;
  5. and, finally, changing practices of taking holidays. In Soviet times, the tourism infrastructure was designed to cater to groups; more recently, individual tourism has gained importance.

Visual Forms of Self-Presentation

The emphasis here is on individual stylisation, on crafting one’s identity in the Internet, or keeping record of important moments (events, locations) through a photo album. This type of documentation is crucial in order to show oneself and others that one has actually been to a destination or experienced an event. Visual forms of self-presentation have received attention in psychology, cultural and media studies, etc., but, as of yet, the number of works dealing with the spatial aspect of self-presentation is small.
Since the Internet offers a vast range of digital destinations and events, people whose physical space for action is very limited may in fact seek to act within a large virtual space. Online forums provide easy access and follow certain standardised practices of communication. “Second Life”, web-based role-playing games and other online identities offer themselves to an investigation of just what makes people participate in certain events or visit certain destinations. We plan to explore how destinations and events in real life are used for online self-presentation. The team of researchers has specified the actual procedure, the research methods and instruments in the course of 2010, so that the fieldwork of the new team can take place in 2011.
See also the individual research projects of what makes people participate in certain events or visit certain destinations.

Jaroslava Panáková
Research Fellow
Ethnotourism in the far north of Russia: transformation of lifestyles on the microlevel

Tatiana Barchunova
Role-playing games: travelling and self-presentation of players (in several cities of Siberia)

Natalia Beletskaya
Role-playing games: travelling and self-presentation of players (in several cities of Siberia)

Ludek Broz
Research Fellow
Altai – (Re)birth of a destination: taste, identity and the new geography of leisure in southwest siberia

Stephan Dudeck
Ph.D Candidate
Diversity of lifestyles between reindeer herders’ camps in the taiga and the oil city Kogalym, Western Siberia

Joachim Otto Habeck
The Public Sphere of Culture in Siberia: Houses of Culture in and around Novosibirsk

Joseph Long
Research Fellow
Urbanisation, social networks and lifestyle choice among western Buriats in south-eastern Siberia

Maria Nakhshina
Research Fellow
Coastal villages: economy, infrastructure, community and tourism (at the Terskii Coast, Murmanskaia oblast’)

Eleanor Peers
Research Fellow
Ysyakh: organisation and practice of a Sakha (Yakut) national holiday

Artem Rabogoshvili
Research Fellow
Recognized and non-recognized communities of the non-native population of Baikal region in the post-Soviet period: lifestyle limitations under the conditions of developing infrastructure

Tatiana Safonova
Digital hunting in East Siberia: self presentation and new technologies in practice

Ina Schröder
Ph.D Candidate
“The Time of Singing Arrows”: role-play, tourism and self-presentation in indigenous culture camps for children and youth, Western Siberia

Denis Zuev
Computer-mediated hospitality networks in Siberia: investigating reciprocity, trust and social connectivity along the TransSiberian Railroad and beyond

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