The All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) reported that 81% of Russians are happy. Well, at least “to one degree or another”. In this news, we will understand how sociologists calculated happiness, and what it means to be happy for Russian citizens. By the way, 100% of VTsIOM shares are owned by the state.
The survey was conducted by sociologists in mid-April by telephone. It is indicated that 1,600 people over 18 were interviewed. Key questions in the study were:
“In life everything is good and bad. But in general, are you happy or not? ”
“Do you think that among your friends and relatives there are more happy people or unhappy?”
Based on the answers to these questions, sociologists calculated the so-called “index of happiness”. The result was 81%: it is precisely such a percentage of Russians, according to VTsIOM, that they feel “generally more or less happy”. It is especially noted that 34% of respondents expressed “extreme degree of agreement” with this wording. It is just right to recall the conclusions of bourgeois sociologists that it was the inhabitants of poor countries who are fully experiencing social injustice who are happier than the rich.
However, it is much more interesting what reasons for happiness the Russians called. As it turned out, for 43% the key was the presence of a family or children, for 25% – their health or the health of loved ones, for 11% – a good job. On the other hand, 11% called financial difficulties the reasons for unhappiness, 19% – the poor state of affairs in the country, instability or unemployment.
A simple analysis of these figures explains how hypocritical the “happiness indices” are. The fact is that sociologists measure the subjective feelings of people, their own opinions about their lives. Imagine, on the one hand, a city dweller in France who is saddened by the closure of his favourite karaoke club and is disappointed with the prospects of quarantine because of the coronavirus epidemic. On the other hand, imagine a Somali peasant who so far manages to save himself and his family from an ongoing civil war. Every evening he can say to himself: “I am happy that I have survived today”. If the sociologists of VTsIOM ask these two people about happiness, then the result is quite predictable: the Somali will be much happier than the Frenchman.
And so the Russians are happy to be alive, healthy and to be close to loved ones.
The objectives of such speculative research are obvious. Opinion polls have long been a way of not so much reflecting public opinion as influencing it. By publishing victorious reports on “happy citizens”, bourgeois propagandists strive to convince the impoverished population that they are doing just fine.
But the fairy tales are easily shattered against the harsh reality.