Key Insights into Contemporary Russian Culture

N. Anthony Brown, Brigham Young University

This paper grew out of a project conducted by the researcher while participating in the Summer Russian Language Teachers Program sponsored through ACTR/ACCELS at Moscow State University in 2004.  In preparation for a course on Russian culture, the researcher became acquainted with Julia Nemirovskaya’s Inside the Russian Soul (2001). The textbook contains several questions at the end of each chapter for students to discuss during class; occasionally chapter-end questions asked specifically for a Russian perspective on a topic.  So as to avoid possible overgeneralizations and/or western-oriented value judgments, the researcher compiled a list of seven questions from Nemirovskaya’s textbook and asked Russian students at Moscow State University to respond to them.  Listed below are the questions as they appear in the textbook, however, when administering the survey, the researcher replaced the term “Russians” (русские) with the formal “you” (Вы).

1. Что русские считают главной особенностью своей культуры?
2. Как русские понимают словоширота”?
3. Как русские ответят на вопроскак дела”?
4. Как русские относястся к деньгамЧто они определяют в их жизни?
5. Что такоекультурный человек”?
6. Какие правила поведения русские считают необходимым соблюдать, а какиенет?
7. Какие сказачные персонажи и литературные герои воплощают в себе национальные черты русского народа?

Participants filled out the questionnaire on their own and returned it to the researcher upon completion.  Statistical analyses of the data consist largely of frequency tests in order to ascertain whether significant patterns and trends arise in participants’ responses.

Preliminary analyses reveal fascinating insights into contemporary Russian culture.  Students of Russian at American universities can benefit greatly from understanding their Russian colleagues’ perspectives on key culture-related topics.


Nemirovskaya, Julia. (2001). Inside the Russian Soul: A Historical Survey of Russian Cultural Patterns. Boston: McGraw-Hill Primis Custom Publishing.