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News

Research seminar "The Shadow of the Family: Historical Roots of Particularism in Europe"

Speakers — Aleksey Oshchepkov (Center for Labour Market Studies HSE) and Maria Kravtsova (Laboratory for Comparative Social Research HSE).

Laboratory for Labour Market Studies, Centre for Labour Market Studies, and Institute for Industrial and Market Studies held the Research Seminar on December 13, 2016.

Theme: The Shadow of the Family: Historical Roots of Particularism in Europe.

Abstract: This study provides new evidence on the impact of household formation customs that existed in the past on present day societal institutions and cultural traits. We develop and test a hypothesis that these customs affect the extent to which particularism is spread in societies nowadays. When the prevalence of particularism is high, people tend to treat other people basing on specific circumstances or personal backgrounds and pay much attention to social status, kinship or social connections. The opposite of particularism is universalism when people treat other people basing on the same universal rules equally applied to all. The high prevalence of particularism in society corrodes the rule-of-law principle, justifies the partiality of state institutions, and feeds corruption.
As a testing ground for our hypothesis we consider European countries covered by Life in Transition Survey (LiTs) in 2010. We regress various measures of the current individuals’ particularistic-type values and behaviors on a battery of historical indicators that reflect different traits of the family system existed in the region where these individuals live now. All sub-national historical indicators we use are derived directly from national censuses of the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th century. To assign historical indicators to contemporary localities we place these localities on the historical maps of European countries using their geographical coordinates. Our preliminary empirical findings tend to support our hypothesis: individuals living in the regions where households had a larger stem or kin component, the use of servants was less common, and earlier marriage was more widespread, are more supportive to particularism.