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Russian Attitudes Examined at International Conference


With support from a National Science Foundation grant, Associate Professor of Government Sharon Werning Rivera convened a conference on April 20 – 21 titled “Russian Elite Attitudes toward Conflict and the West,” one of two international meetings conducted on campus this past weekend. 

The conference attendees included leading U.S, European, and Russian scholars, whose affiliations ranged from Syracuse University all the way to NYU Abu Dhabi. Presentations analyzed a variety of topics, including “differences in elite and mass attitudes in Russia toward foreign countries, the impact of digital media on elites’ perceptions of the United States, and analysis of the foreign policy attitudes expressed by Russian military versus non-military elite groups,” said Rivera.

Attendees presented papers based on a unique data source that spans close to 25 years (from 1993-2016) and includes a series of more than 1,600 interviews with high-ranking individuals working in Russia’s federal bureaucracy, parliament, military and security agencies, private businesses, state-owned enterprises, universities and academic research institutes, and major media outlets.

Discussions focused on ways to apply general theories from the sub-fields of comparative foreign policy, public opinion, and international relations to the study of Russian foreign policy.

In collaboration with scholars at the University of Michigan and the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg (Russia), Rivera directed the seventh wave of the elite surveys.  Funded by Hamilton’s Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center, the most recent data were collected in February and March of 2016. 

Rivera and her students summarized key findings of the 2016 Hamilton College Levitt Poll in a report titled The Russian Elite 2016.  Two student members of that endeavor attended the conference, Emma Raynor ’18 and James Bryan ’16.  Bryan also participated on a panel with Rivera, where they presented results from a co-authored paper. 

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