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Mass and Elite Political Outlooks in Post-Soviet Russia: How Congruent?
Political Research Quarterly (1996)
  • William M Reisinger
  • Andrei Y Melville
  • Arthur H Miller
  • Vicki L Hesli, University of Iowa

Political scientists have long sought to understand the representation of mass publics by their political leaders. Empirical research has primarily focused on patterns of representation in industrial democracies with es tablished democratic traditions. Post-communist countries like Russia, by contrast, provide the opportunity to examine patterns of and attitudes toward representation in a society in which the electoral institutions and the attitudes are newly emerging. We employ survey data from coordinated samples of Russian elites and the mass public carried out in 1992 to address the following questions: Who are the elites in today's Russia? Are their views different from those of the public? In particular, where are the critical pressures for change in Russian politics and society coming from and who is resisting change-those at the top or the bottom of the political hierarchy? How do cleavages among different elite groups relate to the atti tudinal cleavages among the general public? To what extent did the first competitive elections in Russia produce attitudinal correspondence be tween Russian citizens and their representatives in the legislature? We ana lyze elite and mass outlooks on key political and economic dimensions, first for the country as a whole, then within different districts. We show that Russian elites differ in social background from the mass public in the same manner as Western elites differ from the public. Russian elites also differ attitudinally from the Russian populace by being, on average, more reformist (politically and economically). The correspondence, or con gruence, between Russian elite and mass views-overall and region by region-is only moderate but of roughly the same magnitude as that found in Western democracies.

Publication Date
March, 1996
Citation Information
William M Reisinger, Andrei Y Melville, Arthur H Miller and Vicki L Hesli. "Mass and Elite Political Outlooks in Post-Soviet Russia: How Congruent?" Political Research Quarterly Vol. 49 Iss. 1 (1996)
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