The Elite of St Petersburg as Seen by the City Inhabitants


This paper is based on a survey of St Petersburg’s elite, carried out in October 1994 for a city daily, Nevskoe Vremia (a paper with approximately 100,000 subscribers). A representative sample of 800 city dwellers were interviewed by phone, responding to mainly open questions about the city elite. Eight main indicators provided data on the general composition of the elite and lists of names by categories of influence, authority and personal fortune. Of the 150 names nominated by our respondents, all but 12 were identified and characterized in terms of their current or recent formal status, political or social‐cultural standing and/or reputation. Some general and specific problems of the study are considered: What is an elite? Is there a theoretical consensus on the nature of the ruling and non‐ruling constituents of an elite? What are the dynamics of regional or city elites in modern Russia today? Has the emergence of an elite any relevance to the system of representative democracy and to other aspects of social life? What are the mechanisms determining the formation and reproduction of an elite in public space?