Institute of Sociology
of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Individual-Mass Society Relationships in the EU

Individual-Mass Society Relationships in the EU: The Case of Migrants’ Influx

Yanitsky Oleg N.

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Abstract. Drawing on a review of network and globalization studies, his own field studies in these research areas coupled with his experience of a participant of a set of comparative studies in Europe and Russia, the author has organized his argument in ten theses related to the current transformations in the individual—mass society relationships in the EU generated by the mass influx of migrants from the Near East and Africa. First, the consumer society model as a theory and politics is in a deep crisis. Second, the existing form of social institutions (a parliament, political parties, electoral procedures) are no more fit to the rather mobile network-organized structure of the above influx. Third, the very character of mass political process has changed: the mass influx of migrants into the EU is simultaneously a crowd and a collective social actor. Fourth, accordingly the nature of a public (political) discourse between the EU top officials and extremist ideologues is going on in a contradictory form. The former calls for talks while the latter acts by a sheer force and terrorists’ attacks. Fifth, the very nature of political struggle has changed: the mass actions (meetings, processions) against the acts of violation used by democratic Europe have become useless against network-organized and brutal acts of extremist organizations. Sixth, for the reason of network-structured and all-penetrating risks generated by the migrants’ influx, the balance between the mass public and private life should be reconsidered. Seventh, the newcomers have the following advantages in comparisons of the EU residents: they were armed with a definite ideology; the very flow has been network-structured, the newcomers have a lot of their compatriot communities in the EU, etc. Eighth, it has not been the flow of those who want to adapt to the new social milieu but to transform it radically in accordance with their ideology and historical memory. Ninth, three types of a ‘new marginal man’ have been identified: the first is when a man is shifting from habitual to unknown social environment but in the frames of the same type of civilizational context; the second is when a migrant is shifting from a habitual to qualitatively new civilizational context; and the third is when a man is in a permanent position of in-between, namely on the margin of real (i.e. material) and virtual worlds. Tenth, the author offers a brief comparison of a societal contexts within which a specifically Soviet and then Russian types of a marginal man has been shaping and evolving.

Keywords: consumer society, globalization, historical memory, individual, marginal man, migration, crowd, social actor, the EU, Russia

Yanitsky Oleg N., Doctor of sciences, Professor, Chief Researcher, Institute of Sociology Russian Academy of Sciences. Address: bld.5, Krzhizhanovskogo St., Moscow, 117218, Russian Federation. E-mail:


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