Generation, age, and time: the dynamics of political learning during russia's transformation

William Mishler, Richard Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


When the Soviet Union collapsed, most Russians had lived their entire lives in a quintessentially authoritarian culture. Having been socialized in this environment, how could citizens acquire the attitudes and behaviors necessary to support a new, more pluralistic regime? Cultural theories of political learning emphasize the primacy of childhood socialization and hold that altering initial attitudes is a decades-long process that depends on generational replacement. Institutional theories emphasize adult relearning in response to changing circumstances regardless of socialization. Lifetime learning integrates the competing perspectives. Multilevel models using New Russia Barometer data from 1992 to 2005 confirm the persistence of some generational differences in Russian political attitudes but demonstrate even larger effects resulting from adult relearning. Lifetime learning provides the most comprehensive account and suggests that Russians would quickly acquire the attitudes and behaviors appropriate to democracy - if Russian elites supply more authentic democratic institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)822-834
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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