Mikhail M. Sokolov

European University at Saint Petersburg, Russia

Articles. Research
This paper argues that consumption patterns and lifestyles, which—in the Western-European and the US contexts—mark the boundaries of the uppermiddle class, demonstrate a much stronger affinity with the boundaries of the younger age cohorts in Russia. Using the results of a representative survey carried out between April and May 2017 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, we apply multiple correspondence analysis to demonstrate that the observed consumption patterns are best described by a two-dimensional structure, one axis of which describes the total level of (in)activity, while the other axis stands for the relative amount of cultural capital. Counter to what one might expect on the basis of international stratification and consumption studies, however, age—rather than occupation, education or income—is the strongest predictor of overall participation, explaining around 38% of the variance. Using the results of a series of regular cultural consumption surveys available since 2011, we argue that age should be interpreted as belonging to a certain generation—rather than a certain passing stage of a lifecycle—as generations retained the same level of
activity across the time span of 12 years. In the last part of the article we interpret these differences as being the result of an exposure to Western status culture at different stages of one’s biography, making younger people the most receptive to its omnivorous affirmation of multi-faceted activity.
Keywords: sociology of consumption, social stratification, social structure in Russia, lifestyles, cultural capital, generations