Working Paper 104

Conditions and Limitations of Lifestyle Plurality in Siberia: A research programme

Joachim Otto Habeck

Siberian Studies Centre

Year of publication

Number of pages

Working Paper 104

This paper presents the research programme of the MPI’s Siberian Studies Centre for 2008-2012. The aim of the programme is to describe: the preconditions and processes that lead to the differentiation of lifestyles; the scope and dimensions of social recognition, indifference or intolerance towards different models of behaviour; and the factors that facilitate the mainstreaming of such models and/or limit the diversity of lifestyle choices. With the overall improvement of the economic situation in Russia, free time and levels of consumption have increased. So has their significance for people’s sense of self, even though work as a frame of reference continues to be important. On the one hand, there are many signs of growing diversity of lifestyles in Siberia (and Russia in general); on the other, the State’s current emphasis on patriotism, family values, and proper moral education indicates a normative, mainstreaming tendency, with the likely result that space for alternative lifestyles and projects will be limited. After presenting a short rationale for conducting this research at this very time in this very region, I shall introduce the concept of lifestyle and then outline the research questions. In the next parts I briefly comment on two central concepts in anthropological research on Siberia: ethnos and modernisation. Highlighting the reflexivity of actors and the element of choice, the subsequent sections are devoted to divergent, often contested, frames of identification and the performative, even playful character of representation. The final part charts the scope for collaboration with other research units at the MPI. It is hoped that the paper will induce readers to contribute to the future research agenda of the Siberian Studies Centre through their comments and ideas.

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