Psychology in a Transitional Russia

Can the teaching and practice of psychology thrive if they are not supported by a vigorous home-grown research base? The question preoccupies many Russian psychologists today as they see research funding from the Russian Academy of Sciences shrink almost to the disappearing point. Russian researchers are struggling to keep their research activities from following the same free fall.

Psychology education is holding its own, however, sometimes at the expense of psychological research, it appears. Today, student voices are echoing through the halls of Russia’s leading government research institute, where a new psychology department has emerged. At the same time, in new private schools and institites, courses in long-forbidden areas such as psychoanalysis and fields formerly deemed superfluous, like consumer psychology, are very popular.

Meanwhile, academic psychology departments in provincial cities appear fairly thriving-they seem to be holding onto their faculty members and pre-1991 student enrollment levels, despite challenging economic conditions.

A strong plus for professors and students alike is the ‘1resh air” of free contacts with psychologists abroad and psychological research worldwide, opened up by perestroika and the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

As to the future of psychological research in Russia, Psychology Institute Director Andrey Brushlinsky believes it is intimately linked with the outcome of Russia’s current struggle to establish a viable, prosperous economy.

In the following two articles, Observer reporter Don Kent describes the condition of psychology in both academic and research contexts in Russia during its difficult transition to democracy and free-enterprise.

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