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SPP 412

Author: William Mishler and Richard Rose
Description: When the Soviet Union collapsed most Russians had lived their entire lives under an authoritarian regime. Having been socialized in such an environment, how could Russians learn to support a new, more pluralistic regime? Cultural theories of political learning emphasize early life socialization and hold that altering basic attitudes is a difficult, decades-long process that depends on generational replacement. Institutional theories emphasize the adaptability of individuals to new circumstances regardless of generational socialization. A lifetime learning model integrates both perspectives and facilitates comparative assessments. Multi-level modeling with data from the pooled New Russia Barometers (1992-2005) confirms the importance and persistence of generational differences in Russian, but shows that adult experiential learning has even larger effects. An integrated, lifetime learning model provides the best account of the evolution of political attitudes in Russia, and suggests, contrary to cultural fears, that Russians would quickly acquire the attitudes appropriate to democracy, if and when more democratic institutions and leaders emerge.

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CSPP School of Government & Public Policy U. of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ Scotland