Saturday, 6 March 2010

the sins of the few

I am aware that several stereotypical aspects of Russian behaviour have been trying to ‘bite me’ recently. Some of these have just been some pretty boorish manners (of the speaking on mobile phones at the opera variety). Others are more irritating, including the on-going difficulties with my landlord’s agent who – on being caught in a minor act of cheating over an electricity bill – now throws tantrums and bullying fits like a child in the playground over everything and nothing. And, of course, there is exposure to more ‘complicated’ issues, such as the seemingly intractable problem of bribes needing to change hands for certain language proficiency certificates.

But, what I notice most is the embarrassment, frustration and anger of many of my Russian colleagues. Embarrassment when a few Russians behave badly; frustration and anger when a lack of moral principles is shown; and all of these emotions shown at the ongoing endemic problems with bribery and other illegalities here - which are offensive to most ordinary people; as individuals just trying to behave well themselves, because of the image of Russia it perpetuates to the rest of Europe, and because there is nothing they can do about endemic corruption...

I have illustrated this with a image of two cars representing the extremes of wealth and poverty in Moscow. but of course, both cars are parked high on the pavement at an angle which prevents any pedestrian passing....

1 comment:

  1. It will probably come as no surprise to find that there is a PhD thesis devoted to the Russian apology (compared to the British and Polish versions)
    This was investigated by Michael Rosen in BBC's 'Word of Mouth'23rd March 2010.
    He references the work of Eva Ogiermann of Portsmouth University
    Ogiermann, E. & Suszczyńska M. (under review) “On (im)politeness behind the Iron Curtain” To appear 2010 in F. Bargiela and D. Kadar (eds) Politeness across Cultures. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.,92331,en.html
    and I suppose that it should be no surprise to find that there is a 'Journal of Politeness Research'