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Introduction: New Directions in Survey Research on Russian Elites

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Post-Soviet Affairs

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Although a vibrant literature on mass public opinion in Russia emerged in the wake of communism’s collapse in the USSR, the systematic investigation of elite attitudes using survey research has lagged conspicuously behind. This gap is particularly noticeable in the realm of foreign policy. Scholars have made strides in analyzing how the country’s key decision-maker, Vladimir Putin, views the world (e.g., Taylor 2018), yet there is a paucity of research on what shapes the foreign policy attitudes of officials who occupy positions a rung or two down from Putin – much less of those who possess elite status in the economic, military, media, and education spheres. We know precious little about how these individuals arrive at their opinions of the outside world, what ideological and informational factors constrain and shape their foreign policy views, and whether and why their attitudes diverge from those of the mass public.

Designed to fill this gap in our knowledge, this special double issue of Post-Soviet Affairs examines the attitudes of Russian elites toward a wide range of foreign policy matters based on a unique survey research project spanning more than two decades. The contributions to this issue were originally presented at a conference held at Hamilton College (Clinton, New York) in April 2018 with generous funding from the National Science Foundation and the college’s Office of the Dean of Faculty. The articles are based on the Survey of Russian Elites (SRE) – a data set consisting of seven surveys of high-ranking Russian individuals that were fielded in 1993, 1995, 1999, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016.

Hamilton Areas of Study

Government, Russian Studies, World Politics

Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center