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Main page / "Knowledge. Understanding. Skill" Journal / Contents / 2014 / No. 2

Emelyanova T. P., Drobysheva T. V. Is Poverty a Social Problem for Russians: An Analysis of Mass Media Publications and Polls Results

The article was written within the framework of the project The Construction of Social Representations about Poverty in a Changing Society (with the support of a grant from Russian Foundation for the Humanities, No. 13-06-00063).

(Moscow University for the Humanities),
(The Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

Abstract ◊ The article is dedicated to the problematization of the poverty phenomenon within Russian society. The literature on the subject reveals a contradiction between the existence of poverty as a statistically confirmed social phenomenon and the absence of its problematization both in mass media and mass consciousness.

Our analysis was conducted by means of comparing two spheres of societal consciousness: mass media publications contents and public opinion. The Argumenty i Fakty newspaper was chosen as an example of printed media. The results of polls carried out by the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2013 have been used for analyzing social opinion on poverty.

In mass consciousness, poverty is related to low income and substandard quality of life. This is consistent with representations featured in the Argumenty i Fakty. According to the newspaper, the ranks of the poor are being replenished by economically active groups of population not able to satisfy their basic needs. The perceived causes are low wages, reforms in the public sector (education and medicine), and banks credit policy. The publications mainly feature the stories of industrial and regional poverty. The female and especially child poverty are not represented in the Argumenty i Fakty. Mass consciousness seems to endorse the general opinion that the increasing number of kids in a family leads to poverty.

The publications in the newspaper construct representations of administrative, legal, and social problems as the chief factors of poverty. At the same time, socio-demographic factors are barely mentioned. The flaws of state economic policy as a poverty factor are also rarely discussed in the newspaper. The opinions of the population do not mention the economic policy either.

We show that treatments of poverty in mass media and mass consciousness partly coincide and, to some extent, differ. At the same time, there is no emphasis on poverty as an acute social issue in either of the two.

Keywords: mass media psychology, public opinion, construction of social problems, poverty perception, social problem, poverty, mass media.

Emelyanova Tatiana Petrovna, Doctor of Science (psychology), professor, professor of the Social and Ethnic Psychology Department, Moscow University for the Humanities. Postal address: B. 3, 5 Yunosti St., Moscow, Russian Federation, 111395. Tel.: +7 (499) 374-56-11. E-mail:

Drobysheva Tatiana Valerievna, Candidate of Science (psychology), researcher of the Laboratory of Social and Economic Psychology, the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Postal address: 13 Yaroslavskaia St., Moscow, Russian Federation, 129366. Tel.: +7 (499) 374-56-11. E-mail:


Citation: Emelyanova T. P., Drobysheva T. V. Is Poverty a Social Problem for Russians: An Analysis of Mass Media Publications and Polls Results // Znanie. Ponimanie. Umenie. 2014. 2. S. 5160.



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