Extensiveness And Intensity Of Development Of Russia: Dissonance Between Tradition And Trend


The beginning of the 21st century is associated with radical changes in the social reality of Russia. As a result of the ongoing social shifts, Russian social reality is the bearer of three forms of technological experience: the ‘old’ technological culture, the one with borrowed advanced foreign technologies and up-to-date technological procedures and meanings. The problematic situation is obvious: the country needs an effectively operating technology, but its priority needs argumentation supported by comprehensive and systematic scientific and practical study. Technological principles that affect the effectiveness of social reality, ensure the dominance of a certain mood in the mentality and practical activity of an individual can be qualified as extensiveness/‘amount of work’ or intensity/‘quality of work’. Technological principles for implementation of the social model include, on the one hand, the dominant value orientations in a given society, and on the other, they depend on an objective set of life constants. The level of technological culture of Russian sociality, the priority implementation of a true orientation towards intensive development is an important condition for effective functioning of the state mechanism. The study focuses on technological principles of extensiveness and intensity, which, according to the authors, are in a state of dissonance, which in turn affects the dynamics and specifics of the development strategy of the Russian Federation. The analysis of the internally discordant technological complex extensiveness-intensity is relevant due to the need to understand and predict trends of modernization of the Russian statehood.

Keywords: Dissonance, intensity, development, tradition, trend, extensiveness


The society self-actualizes and asserts itself, being objectively guided by socio-ontological technological principles of extensiveness and intensity among other things.

implies accentuation of quantitative parameters of the functioning of social life – ‘the more, the better’: an increase in volume/number/area; growth of dimension; horizontal surface ‘in breadth’; length; plurality; fullness; enlargement. correlates with qualitative indicators of the development of social reality – ‘better less but better’: efficiency of application, use of resources; rationality; improvement; compactness; innovation of activity; downsizing; vertical submersible ‘in depth’.

The historically established preference for one of these technological principles, in our opinion, can be regarded as a key marker of the socio-ontological development of Russia, which, in turn, actualizes cognitive interest in the situation. In our opinion, comprehension of the status of extensiveness/intensity as an established unshakable technological tradition or technological trend is of fundamental importance for substantiating the very possibility of social transformations, and vectoriality and effectiveness of the modernization process.

Problem Statement

Framing for problematization of the research topic depend on the fact that extensiveness and intensity are studied primarily as paired, but relatively independent principles of the development of socio-economic institutions (Abalkin, 2002; Aganbegyan, 2003; Glazyev, 2014). At the same time, we believe there is no research interest in these principles as socio-ontological concepts. The features and consequences of the between the traditionally existing extensive development model and Russia’s socio-ontological claim to intensive development as an up-to-date trend have not been disclosed. Cognitive vagueness of the conceptualization of the status of extensiveness and intensity technological principles in modern Russian social science makes us consider it legitimate to study the conditions for formation and essence of this contradiction as one of the key obstacles to effective social changes in Russia and, thereby, to replenish the resulting scientific research gap.

Research Questions

Dissonance between extensiveness as a tradition and intensity as a trend in the development of Russian reality.

Dominance in modern Russian reality of the technological principle of extensiveness as historically established tradition.

Implementation of the technological principle of intensity as a modernization trend into modern Russian reality.

Purpose of the Study

The study aims to overcome the limited economic explication of technological principles of extensiveness/intensity and substantiate their socio-ontological status; to interpret the essence of the dissonance between extensiveness-tradition and intensity-trend as a factor that determines the content and prospects for the development of modern Russian reality.

Research Methods

Theoretical and methodological configuration of the research is formed by the cognitive potential of the concept by C. Montesquieu ‘geographical determinism’; elements of systemic, comparative, structural and functional methods of analysis; dialectical principles of inconsistency, complementarity and correspondence, which were used in the framework of social-critical analysis.


Social evolution of Russia was affected by a number of circumstances and factors, among which a significant role is played by peculiar agents of evolution – socio-ontological principles as some initial basic concepts, fundamental meanings that together determine the format of the state and its content-essential content. We believe extensiveness and intensity of social development belong to the array of socio-ontological principles (simultaneously being technological principles), since they reveal themselves in all spheres of social life and have a undoubted powerful determinative potential for evolution of the Russian state.


. The topological model of the Russian state can serve as a precedent for the dominance of the ontological principle of extensiveness. The possibility of annexing new lands, obtaining new natural resources almost immediately became permanent (Vernadsky, 2000). The territory of the initial settlement of the Eastern Slavs – the East European Plain – did not lack in land primarily due to the northern and eastern directions, which became the main ones in the policy of self-colonization of the East Slavic princes. In Ancient Russia, the inhabitants of the East European Plain were convinced of the ‘land growth’ through border expansion (Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, 1915). The systemic picture of the state’s territorial acquisitions started to shape at the time of formation of statehood during the reign of Ivan III: consolidation of central power by Moscow created conditions for ‘land collection’ by the Moscow princes. Under Ivan the Terrible, the process turned to its active phase: one after another, the Kazan, Astrakhan and Siberian khanates became part of the Moscow kingdom. Under Peter I, Russia strengthened its positions in the Baltic and Azov Seas, and under Catherine the Great the Crimea and Poland provided the ‘growth’ of the state. In the 19th century, Russia successfully advanced to Finland, Central Asia and the North Caucasus. The next geopolitical breakthrough occurred at the end of World War II, when the borders of the Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova were restored, and additional territories were acquired in Eastern Europe at the expense of Finland, Prussia, Poland, and in Asia at the expense of South Sakhalin, the Kuriles and Tuva. The natural result of the permanent expansion of Russia has become a complex extensive derived from topological immensity (length, boundlessness, underdevelopment) and specific social reality (impulsivity, disorganization, unevenness, irregularity, irrationality). It was stated at different times by a number of researchers: ‘... a geographic element, that’s what they don’t want to understand; our whole history is a product of the nature of that vast land that we have inherited. This is what scattered us in all directions and scattered us in the space from the very first days of our existence ...’ (Chaadaev, 2006, p. 18); ‘Our originality is derived from the space, ... from distant scattering in the space ...’ (Ilyin, 2003, p. 72); ‘Russian laziness, carelessness, lack of initiative, and a poorly developed sense of responsibility are associated with the power of the breadth’ (Berdyaev, 1990a); ‘The Russian people have not yet covered the vast territory of their state’ (Lossky, 1991); ‘The Russian soul is hurt by the breadth, it sees no boundaries. The vastness of Russian space did not enhance the development of self-discipline and amateur performance in a Russian person – he blurred into the space’ (Berdyaev, 1990a, p. 63); ‘The Russian person ... feels helpless to cover this space and organize them’ (Berdyaev, 1990b, p. 35). It is apparent that the Russian topological environment is defined as extensive and dominant-determinant in relation to the specificity of the state of Russian social reality.

. The extensive nature of the economy is represented primarily by the priority role of the agricultural sector (for most of the historical time, agriculture in Russia was on key positions, and increased craving for economic traditionalism in society, which prefers to permanently put additional land into circulation, scaling agricultural land); inculcation of habit of working ‘in the image and likeness’ of previous generations without bothering to employ intensive soil cultivation technologies (‘a farmer is a slave to habit’). It should be noted that similar attitudes were characteristic of Russian landowners, peasants, and the Soviet collective farm system. For example, P. Stolypin’s resettlement policy at the beginning of the 20th century can be considered a classic of the extensive development of agriculture; development of virgin and fallow lands in the 50–60s of the 20th century in the southeastern and eastern regions of the country.

Extensiveness of the Russian economic model demonstrates the predominant development of the raw materials/extractive sector of the economy. For centuries, natural resources have been treated in Russia as an inexhaustible source of profit-rent, which made it possible to make a choice in favor of an export-raw material management strategy as a deliberately thought-out and calculated decision of the Kiev princes, Moscow tsars, Petersburg emperors, Soviet and Russian leaders. Russian furs, timber, metals, oil and gas have always been produced and sold in a great amount and made the Russian reality a hostage of extensive rental and resource management. The attitude towards the human labor factor is very indicative. Opportunities for labor involvement/recruitment in Russia have always been great: hundreds of thousands of people were effectively transferred to the places of construction of cities and factories (the initiative of Peter I), hydroelectric power plants, to the virgin lands or BAM (initiatives of the Soviet period). Modernization qualities of the workforce were not considered important and were not taken properly into account, therefore, the share of manual labor of a large number of workers in Russian production was permanently predominant, and technological efficiency was replaced by mobilization labor enthusiasm. It was identical to the mindset ‘come on the whole world’ and to achieve the goal ‘Not by skill, but by number.’

. In Russian reality, throughout the entire social and evolutionary process, one way or another the dominated form of power was monarchism and that of the political regime was authoritarianism (reign in Kievan Rus, reign in Muscovite Rus, autocracy in the Petersburg Empire, monopartocracy in the Soviet Union, hypertrophied presidency in modern Russia), which corresponds to extensive geopolitics and economics. In the 18th century, the French philosopher Montesquieu (2005), within the framework of his concept of geographical determinism, substantiated the idea that ‘Asia has always had vast empires; in Europe they could never resist. The fact is that in Asia we know the plains are much more extensive ... Therefore, the power in Asia must always be despotic ...’ (p. 63). Russian Empress Catherine II inspired by the ideas of the French Enlightenment, tried to correlate them with real Russian reality and under the influence of Montesquieu concluded that ‘The Russian Empire is so vast that, apart from the autocratic sovereign, any other form of government is harmful to it ... A vast state suggests autocratic power in the person who rules it ... Any other government would not only be harmful but completely ruinous to Russia’ (Soloviev, 1997, p. 65). In the 20th century. Polish sociologist Schepansky (1969) argued that ‘democratic systems have developed in countries with natural borders (Switzerland, Iceland); that in countries with open borders, subject to raids, a strong absolutist power has arisen’ (p. 72). Overprotection on the part of the state leader (Father archetype) in relation to all aspects of society’s life (Child archetype) can be considered as an extrapolation of the paternalistic management method in a large patriarchal family.

In our opinion, it is legitimate to refer to the manifestations of political extensiveness as the procedure of ‘specific federalization’ – formation of a multinational state in the course of self-colonization of Russia. It can be considered as a simultaneous process of geographical expansion and colonization by the most powerful central regions of many border settlements of peoples (Finno-Ugrians, Tatars, peoples of Siberia, the Far East, the Caucasus and Central Asia). Political extensiveness is exhibited through the construction of party and political institutions: mass parties (the number of the CPSU reached 18 million people, the number of United Russia significantly exceeds 2 million people), mass social movements (pioneers, Komsomol, the organization of Soviet women in the Soviet Union; ONF, official volunteering, mass action ‘Immortal regiment’ in modern Russia). It should be noted that it is the quantitative parameter that was and remains a priority for assessing the activities of these institutions as positive. Therefore, managers of different ranks report according to a hierarchical scheme on the number (so-called ‘coverage’) of the subjects involved, guided by the principle ‘the more, the better’ while ignoring the principle ‘better less but better.’

. The health and education systems are full of evidence of the dominance of the extensive approach in the social sphere: a normatively large number of patients are appreciated to be appointed to the doctor, the occupancy rate of wards in a hospital is high, per capita principle of remuneration of teachers in secondary schools, permanently increasing occupancy/enlargement of kindergarten groups, school classes, student groups; finally, the notorious publication activity of scientists is evaluated by the quantity, not the quality of published papers and monographs.

In Russian sociocultural reality, the technological principle of extensiveness is actively manifested: in pre-revolutionary Russia, mass visits to religious organizations and collective prayers can be considered very indicative, and in Soviet and modern Russian society, mass festive demonstrations of workers, sports and cultural and entertainment events with a significant quantitative coverage of the population (mass race/marathon; popular holiday City Day), mass thematic flash mobs, mass music shows (pop concert at the stadium) can be attributed to the ‘carriers’ of extensiveness. As a rule, such views are defined as precedents of mass culture. Even at the everyday level, extensiveness dominates: celebration of the anniversary, wedding celebration, ritual ceremonies in most cases are mass events ‘on a grand scale’. Obviously, the Russian mentality includes extensiveness as one of its basic characteristics.


The technological principle of intensity as a socio-ontological characteristic of the quality of public institutions declares itself, and then comes to the fore in the industrial states. In the context of scientific and technological progress, civilization growth in post-industrial countries has become priority intensive – innovative and science-intensive since approximately the middle of the 20th century. The principle of intensity is a trend marker of development, adoption of which is essential for the state not to become a permanently lagging one. Modern Russia formally declares intensity as the most important setting for social change, but at the same time it actually retains the principle of extensiveness as the dominant technological tool of state policy, thereby generating a socio-ontological dissonance between extensiveness-tradition and intensity-trend. Apparently, the most striking example of such a situation is the process of the so-called optimization, which is observed in all spheres of public life.

In Russian social reality, the intensification sense is emasculated from optimization, and instead of deep implementation of new production technologies, real improvement of production organization, rational allocation of resources, reduction of resource intensity and labor input of the production process, in theory, optimization implies ‘modification of the system to improve its efficiency’ (intensity-trend), but in practice it exhibits reduction/cutting of funds and mechanical merger/consolidation of structures (extensiveness-tradition). At best, the result of socio-ontological dissonance is stagnation in development, at worst, it leads to degradation of the quality of public institutions. Social institutions, health care and education can be considered the most indicative victims of the formal approach to the technological principle of intensity.

The fact that high-quality human capital is the most important intensive factor-trend in social development cannot be neglected. Permanent improvement of the cultural and professional levels of employees improves the quality of goods and services, the cultural climate and the general state of life in the country. In modern Russian reality, it is not uncommon to replace real training and retraining of employees with formal data on the number of training courses completed, which reduces the intensity-trend towards simulating of the effectiveness of the subject potential (Korchagin, 2005).


The initial goal of the study was to substantiate the fact that Russian society develops based on deep, permanently relevant foundations in the form of dissonance between extensive and intensive dimensions of social reality. The main findings of the study can be formalized in a series of generalizations relevant to the cognitive goal in order to come closer to understanding the meaning of the dissonance between the principles of extensiveness and intensity as the basic determinant of the socio-ontological development of Russia:

  • the development of human civilizations initially took place on an extensive basis, which naturally and objectively corresponds to the natural-geographical and socio-economic conditions in which societies were formed. Naturally, as the population grew, natural resources were depleted, vacant land was exhausted (decreased agricultural land per capita, reduced exploitation of forests as a source of energy and construction material, etc.). States, for example, in Western Europe, were forced to switch to intensive development, which, in turn, promoted the development of crafts/industry and technologies: development of new methods for soil cultivation, breeding of more productive varieties of plants, selection work with domestic animals to increase their productivity, creation of technical devices and mechanisms up to modern machines and industrial robots, computer technology;
  • for many centuries, Russian reality has remained hostage to its topological and economic state: the real geographic contour of the country’s development was historically formed under the impact of inexhaustible natural potential (land, minerals, timber) and took shape as an extensiveness-tradition with the priority role of the mining and agricultural sectors of the economy and a non-democratic model of management, which confirms the conclusions made by the ancient Greeks: ‘The majority of people believe that a happy state should be large in size. ... Experience suggests, however, how difficult, if not impossible, for a too populous state to be governed by good laws; at least we see that all those states whose structure is reputed to be excellent do not allow an excessive increase in their population’ (Aristotle, 1984, p. 99);
  • among the advantages of extensiveness-tradition, the growth of production units and the development of new lands should be noted; due to the purpose to increase the number of jobs, the unemployment rate is reduced, which positively affects the social climate and helps reduce the risks of social tension. However, there are very tangible negative aspects of dominance of the principle of extensiveness: technological stagnation occurs due to the lack of concern for quality in the state, which poses the risks of dependence on more technologically advanced countries, in addition, the development of labor productivity is constrained; topological immensity gives rise to an uneven distribution of the population, creates an inefficient pattern of transport infrastructure, and regular and excessive exports of natural resources seriously hinder the development of the country’s economy;
  • the study of the state and relationship of technological principles shows that the relationship between extensiveness and intensity in modern Russia is manifested in the reduction, replacement of intensity with extensiveness with an obvious need for innovative restructuring of territories and rementalization of social capital in these territories, and the need for creation of institutional conditions for priority positioning intensity-trend within the socio-ontological system of Russian reality; extensive and intensive principles of social development can ‘coexist peacefully’, but to determine the efficiency of society in such situation, it is necessary to correlate the basic technological principles (extensiveness and intensity) with those development claims that the state is guided by when developing projects and models of activity;
  • the authors identified the main contradiction – dissonance – between technological traditionalism (extensiveness) aimed at protecting the stability of socio-ontological development scenarios and the objective historical need for a qualitative change (intensity) of social reality in the format of technological transformations in Russia. The relevance of dissonance between extensiveness-tradition and intensity-trend remains underestimated, and the significance of its impact on the state of Russian sociality is only fragmentarily in the research focus, which is the basis for intensifying research efforts in this direction.

The technological imperatives of society are firmly linked to the fate of the state: owing to them, the development of the country is a certain composition, which includes progressive, stagnant or regressive tendencies; the functions and significance of the technological factor in relation to the prospects of the state development are updated. It is necessary to create conditions for modernization of the ‘old’ technological culture through the elimination of inertia, patriarchy, stereotyped activity and the emancipation of the creative technological energy of human capital. It is important that the ultimate goal of socio-ontological development is not only a quantitative state, but a qualitative transformation of all spheres of the country’s life and the welfare of its citizens. The study showed that the technological principles of extensiveness and intensity determine the content and nature of relations between social institutions, influence the motivation of activity in various spheres of public life, and set the directions for social activity.

Analysis of the dissonance of the technological principles of Russian social reality asserts that its mitigation and minimization can be crucial for effective functioning and dynamic development of Russian statehood: a true priority of intensity-trend is a basis for the innovative system of state development. Thus, the initial goal seems to be reached, but the results obtained cannot pretend to be reliable and comprehensive. In this regard, this topic is promising in terms of further studies aimed at certain clarifications and detailed elaboration.


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Mullyar, L. A., Kuliev, F. M. O., Ozherelyeva, O. Y., Ageeva, E. A., & Grigoshina, L. Y. (2021). Extensiveness And Intensity Of Development Of Russia: Dissonance Between Tradition And Trend. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 892-900). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.05.120