Cover Osteuropa 5/2010

In Osteuropa 5/2010

Whistling Like Socrates
“New Old” and the Old Reality in Russia

Aleksej Levinson

Deutsche Fassung


In the cultural memory of society, archaic and modern ideas of old age and death are superimposed on each other. With the demographic shifts now taking place, the image of old age is also changing. Old age is not an objective biological fact but a social one. In some parts of the world, old age is no longer seen as a phase of life without sense or purpose, but, analogous to youth, as a time of learning and experience. But in Russia, there is no place for the view that old age can be a good time. The upheavals that have shaken the country since Perestroika have led to a situation in which the older generations have lost their entire social reserves. These reserves could have been material, but also the professional, intellectual or routine capital that had guaranteed authority, respect, and self-confidence.

(Osteuropa 5/2010, pp. 159–174)