Kanarsh G. The Contours of Russian Modernization (a report on 2nd International Modernization Forum)
During the whole post-Soviet period modernization has remained the pivotal problem and the main task of the development of Russian society. As an official social and political task, the Russian authorities put it forward in 2008 and since then it has been the constant topic for academic discussions and forums. At the same time, the academic elaborating on this theme has not advanced in Russia for different reasons. Following the conception of “national model of modernization”, it is possible to propose some theoretical considerations about different aspects of this process in Russia.
One of the main problems of thinking over modernization in social and economic sphere is the dominance of the conception of “catch-up development”. Many Russian social researchers are continuing to consider the way of Russian modernization in terms of this theory, which includes the idea of the West as a pattern for economic and political transformations. Another viewpoint is offered by those who consider that we can use the resources of our own culture for the purposes of modernization. For example, some positive sense of Russian labor and entrepreneurship culture is provided by the conception of “Russian world”. This conception dispels the myth about the inaptitude of the Russians for entrepreneurship and underlines the significant social tendency in the pre-Soviet business traditions.
The novelty of the proposed approach to the analysis of modernization consists in the following. Firstly, the necessity of taking into considerations peculiarities of national mentality. According to recent studies, there is a close proximity of the basic features of the Russian mentality to the mentalities of such countries as Israel, Hungary, France, Belgium, and Italy. Russian sociologists propose to pay special attention to the Israel experience, which includes powerful traditionalist and socialist lines in politics, a significant agricultural sector in economy, and a multi-component structure in social and cultural spheres. Secondly, a pragmatic approach in the field of practical politics of modernisation. It seems that we need different models and approaches — such as the capitalist model (the model of reindustrialization on the new economic and social foundations), the social and democratic model (with the idea of redistribution) and the traditionalist conservative model (which stresses the organicist potential of the society). The realistic approach should combine the elements of these different ideological positions in concrete social and political circumstances. Thirdly, the key precondition of successful modernization in Russia is the practical realization of the idea of justice in different spheres of social life. This idea presupposes the development of democracy and civil society with direct involvement of the state and its leading role in the modernization process. Fourthly, it is necessary to pay special attention to the importance of regional differences in Russia as in China.
In general, it appears that only this way — of consideration of the national and regional peculiarities — may be profitable for current processes of Russian modernization.
Publication has been made by the support of the Russian Fund for the Humanities (project №16-03-15003)
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