The current paper studies the existing notions of “value”, classifications and systems of values. As a result of the analysis we present the interpretation of a value in terms of possessiveness/existence and benefit and the value classification on the basis of their benefit-orientation: a) endogenous – directly focusing on an individual and b) exogenous – directly focusing on a society or its part (a social group, an organization etc.) and indirectly – on an individual. Based on the analysis of the questionnaire filled in by the students (would-be translators) in Togliatti State University, a field model of values is presented in the paper illustrating the priorities in their value system. According to the other questionnaire, aimed at revealing integral and differential values both for Russian and American people, the paper highlighted the transposition of some American values with the different grade of their interiorization by Russian students. The final conclusion of the research is restructuring the values system of modern Russian youth.
Keywords: Valuevalues transpositionvalue prioritieswelfarevalue system restructuringvalue preferences
There are several definitions of “value” in present studies, which can be classified as following: 1) values are equated to ideals and principles (Aubakirova, 2007; Pleshkova & Taghirbekova, 2012); 2) values are defined as the guides of a person’s activity (Bugreev, 2007) in variations: the prior cultural orientations (Klochkova, 2007), political beliefs and the goals of an individual or a society (Selezneva, 2011) ; 3) according to V. Semenov, however , values are not “the final destination”, but “the departure point” (Semyonov, 2012). They are cultural standards, owing to which people define goodness, virtue and beauty and which are the life standards in the broader sense (Gulina, 2008), i.e. there is a touch of orientation in this definition.
The idea “values = ideals and principles” can be seen in the system of moral values, such as: kindness, honesty, decency, respect towards people vs. immorality, selfishness, acquisitiveness (Bugreev, 2007, par. 3-4, p. 339-340). From our point of view, these are rather personal traits; such values as proficiency and competence (Chumakova, 2007) are a person’s skills and expertise.
Values as a guide of a person’s activity can be considered as directives for a person’s behavior, mostly in an organization; see their list: “the order values: discipline, including the sense of duty, responsibility of an employee, stability and predictability of his/her behavior, loyalty (personal devotion), obedience, conformism” (Sereda & Pyatiletova, 2018, par. 12). As it follows from the above list of the corporate values, it also includes personal traits. The notion of values is becoming more abstract due to the author’s remark as to the coincidence of the major corporate values with the goals of the organization [Ibid].
The same mix of personal traits, directives and values can be noticed in the Bucharest Declaration of Ethical Values and Principles of Higher Education in Europe. This document includes the most important values such as: the norms of academic conscientiousness, honesty, accountability, intellectual freedom and social responsibility (Gans & Matrenina, 2007; Higher Education Today, 2005).
The revealed contradictions in the definition and the understanding of values let us accept the interpretation of values by Drozdov (2007) as the most appropriate one: he points out, that a material object can also be a value as they are “objects and phenomena of reality and ideal formations, having great importance and promoting both personal and social progress” (par. 6, p. 313).
This definition gives the opportunity to formulate our interpretation of values in the most abstract wording as of something desired, the possession or a presence of which will bring a person or a society some welfare. In addition, a value can be defined as a super-value, which can be realized in detail in more specific material and ideal values. (In regard to transformation in the meaning, notion and understanding of “welfare” see (Vvedenskiy, 2013).
The understanding of values, accepted in this paper, as a certain desired welfare for the individual and society, realized in specific values, both material and spiritual, allows us to look at the value reality of particular social groups in a new perspective. The value system restructuring of an individual and society as a whole is a long process that depends on many factors, including the social and economic structure of society, its policy and ideology. Global transformations in all areas of our country could not but have an impact on changing the value orientations of the Russian population. However, we consider that little attention is paid to the study of the values of the younger generation whose activity will determine the life of the country in the coming years. The following questions remain open. Which segments of the value system have been restructured due to the political, economic, and social changes in Russian society over the past 30 years? Which values remain resistant to the change?
All the foregoing raises a number of questions that determine the purposes of the study.
What groups of values prevail in environment of students? What proportion of students' value system is traditional? What values have emerged as a result of deep transformations of Russian society? Can we talk about the influence of the cross-cultural factor on the value system of Russian students? Are there any values in the value system of Russian students identical to those of their American peers?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study can be formulated as follows:
1. To reveal and systematize the value preferences of the students of the Department of Humanities (Togliatti State University).
2. To reveal the integral and the differential segments in the set of values in cross-cultural aspect.
According to the purpose of the study, in the course of the research we used the questionnaire by Solovyeva (2014), the results of which are presented in a field form. It caused the implementation of the field structuring method. By carrying out the second task we used the questionnaire by Kohls (1984); its results are summarized on the basis of the quantitative data and the comparative analysis for revealing the qualitative similarities and differences. The main theoretical principle is the inductive one by the analysis of the experimental data.
One of the most common is the classification according to the criterion “institualizer of values”: here personal values (including family ones) and social/state values are distinguished (Artamonova, 2007; Aubakirova, 2007; Estafyeva, 2017; Morokhova, 2007; Parsons, 1997; Rokeach, 1973; Selezneva, 2011; Sidorova, 2007) the detailed analysis of the political values is presented in the paper by Pfetser (2013). The least “global person” in comparison with the state is its entities and organizations — the source of corporate culture values or legal values (Samoshilova, 2007).
This triad appears to be rather contradictive, as a person has a mixed status in the sphere of social and corporate values: the institualizer of values is someone external in relation to him. As a result, a person is an object; and, at the same time, he/she is supposed to share these values and to function as a subject.
Another popular classification is the classification in the frames of the cultural stratification: national-cultural and universal (planetary) values (Aubakirova, 2007; Magomedova, 2007; Sidorova, 2007). However, some works question the existence of global values even in their titles (Schwartz, 1994; Tapilina, 2007). The problem of values transformation also doubts their existence (Dorofeeva, 2007; Inglhart, 1997), as well as the classification according to the geographical criterion: western (European) values vs. oriental values. (It goes without saying that here we used a kind of metaphor, as the western values stand for the cultures of the people living in the West, although the West – East directions are ambiguous in the proper geographical sense). In the opposition according to the criterion “the principles of the state system” democratic or liberal values are opposed to the authoritarian ones [28; the model by S.Flenagan: cit. Pfetser S. (Pfetser, 2013).
In our research, according to the accepted notion of “value”, we classify values on the criterion of their orientation: directly on an individual (we offer the definition “endogenous” for them), directly on a society or one of its entities and indirectly on an individual (we offer the definition “exogenous” for them). In our opinion, this classification correlates to the definition of the value essence by Nietzsche (1993): “Everything that has value in the modern world has it not in itself, not by its nature – there are no values in nature – but because someone has once attached, presented some value to it and these donators were we!” (par. 4, p. 285-286).
Value preferences of students
The respondents were given the following values list, mostly endogenous: health, love, active way of life, true and faithful friends, happy family life, wealthy life, self-development, interesting job, freedom, entertainment, practical wisdom, creativity, learning, fruitful life, and some exogenous values: public recognition, other people’s happiness, the beauty of nature and art.
There were 100 respondents of the training program “Theory and practice of translation” in Togliatti State University. They were asked to name the values in order of their preference.
By analyzing the results of the survey we used in addition the classification by R. Inglhart, who divides the values into materialistic and post-materialistic. According to our classification exogenous values cam be regarded as post-materialistic once, endogenous values include both.
In quantitative terms, the results of the survey showed the predominance of the post-materialistic values among endogenous values: 63 % of mentioning as compared to 37 % of materialistic ones. However in the qualitative aspect, the situation is much more complex and even contrary to the quantitative aspect. This fact is reflected by the field structure of the values set according to the criterion of their preference: the sequence number in the student’s list: the core is made up of positions 1–4, the nearest to the core zone – positions 5–8, the nearest periphery – positions 9–11, and the farthest periphery – positions 12–14; in the course of the analysis we took into consideration the percentage of the respondents, who placed the values into some position.
As it follows from the model, the core consists mostly of materialistic values. In the nearest to the core zone materialistic and post-materialistic values are in dynamic balance, in the nearest periphery they are presented equally, in the farthest periphery post-materialistic values prevail. Exogenous values, being a priori post-materialistic, are represented only in the periphery.
The revealed state of the value preferences is supposed to reflect not only the level of economic and social development of the Russian society, but also the different students’ economic positions, what is represented by the modeled field. We can conclude that the post-materialistic values are postponed values, as their mentioning is rather representative, but they are of less priority for the students in this period of life.
Values in cross-cultural aspect
There is a widely recognized hypothesis that national culture determines the system of vital and personal values. Thus, one may presume that the resemblance of the first one results in the resemblance of the second ones. However, this is not the fact, as Leontovich (2005) claims the similarity of American and Russian cultures while the values appear quite different as shown in the table:
Some scholars consider such key notions as Soul, Fate, Melancholy to be the major values in the Russian culture (Kulinich, 2004; Vezhbitska, 1996) or: “The significant difference between the national values of American and Russian people lies in the Work Orientation and, as a result, in Acqusitiveness (the Americans) and the “Being” Orientation (the Russians) (Kulinich, 2004, par. 1, p. 72).
To reveal whether and to what extent the conclusions, found in scientific works coincide with the Russian reality, the students were given the table of the most popular American values and the values, important for other cultures (Kohls, 1984). They were asked to mark the values, common for Russia and the USA, and the values opposing these countries (it should be noted that some values are, as defined above, personal traits: directness, frankness, openness, honesty and they antonyms; but we let all the nominations as values, because the table is a borrowing).
The most general conclusions of this micro-social survey are: relative dynamic balance of the quantitative data in integral and differential features (14 and 16, respectively). It can be explained by positioning the same features to the integral or to the differential: future orientation, informality, directness/openness/honesty, tradition, individualism.
Some values, being uncommon for the Russian culture as a whole society, are interpreted as integral therefore with some reservation: change (are not always ready), time and its control (do not always control time), equality (not everybody appreciates it), competition (not widespread), work orientation (not very common), materialism / acquisitiveness (more and more common, but not sound).
These data do not much differ from the results of our previous survey (Anokhina, 2007). The absolutely integral features are: cooperation, birthright/inheritance. The absolutely different features are: personal control over environment, self-help (Americans), human interaction, hierarchy, fate.
Thus, the absolutely integral components are represented equally by endogenous and exogenous values. The absolutely differential values exist in the state of dynamic balance: among them four values are exogenous (one American and three Russian values) and three are endogenous where two are also the Russian ones.
As for the classification “materialistic – post-materialistic values”, they are represented by absolutely integral. Among the absolutely differential post-materialistic values prevail: personal control over environment, human interaction, hierarchy, fate; there is only one materialistic value here: self-help.
This state of affairs shows that the main difference between the Russian and the American value systems lies in the sphere of the post-materialistic values in spite of the obvious fact: the level of economic development and welfare is much higher than in modern Russia. This is not consistent with the R. Inglhardt’s idea about the shift of priorities towards post-materialistic values depending on the first factor.
However, these data do not deny the results of the first survey; they accomplish the previous from a new point of view: show their peripheral position because of their low quantitative representation. The status of relatively integral values: work orientation and acquisitiveness, is also consistent with the results of the first questionnaire: each of them is located in different zones of the field model of Russian values.
In the cross-cultural aspect the answers show the double reference: traditional values, common to all Russian people (including the respondents), and values shared only by the respondents – these values are far from being traditional Russian. The answers in the first questionnaire show the multiple references as to the value priority. In other words, the value system in Russia is under restructuring. This is consistent with the idea that “in periods of political and economical instability, like nowadays in Russia, the national culture is in a weak position; it lays the groundwork for interfering the cultures of more developed countries, which are associated with welfare and prosperity” (Leontovich, 2005, par. 3, p. 91).
The group of relatively integral values and the fact that many values are localized ambiguously, especially “individualism”, are bright examples of the value transposition from the American culture; such a value as “birthright/inheritance”, considered by the respondents as Russian, is the transposition from the British value system (the respondents are probably not aware of this fact but nevertheless it was marked as a value opposing the Russian culture to the American one).
The field model of the students’ value system shows the trend to the balance between materialistic and post-materialistic values which indirectly indicates the process of improving the economical and social situation in Russia, although this process is to a certain extent controversial.
The theoretical statements as well as the experimental data leave the question open: whether the universal values do exist, or they are a myth, unanswered.
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07 December 2020
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Anokhina, S. P., & Plakhova, O. A. (2020). Value Reality In Environment Of Students. In A. S. Nechaev, V. I. Bunkovsky, G. M. Beregova, P. A. Lontsikh, & A. S. Bovkun (Eds.), Trends and Innovations in Economic Studies, Science on Baikal Session, vol 96. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 491-498). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.12.64