Julia Zubo
Russian Academy of Science

Work on this diary has taken me incredibly long time not just because of lack of it, but also because it was difficult to decide what was more or less important significant in my every day life. Although everyone’s life is unique, our lives are similar in terms of our professional activity: teaching, doing research, preparing presentations, making telephone calls, traveling, etc. Each of which is nothing special really. The main nuances concern the social environments and ways of doing things in different places and countries. In order to avoid bring readers with tales of Russian specifics, I’d like instead to make other bold comments which will be developed further below. Lets me finish this introduction by mentioning a joke that is circulating in Russia today: “The whole history of the country has to be analyzed if someone wants to know why the handle is, by chance, on the wrong side of a door”

9:00. As Monday is free of teaching until late evening it’s not the most hectic day even though it’s the start of the week that allows. My free time allows me to concentrate on all sorts of things. Usually I check my e-mail box every morning and send replies. The line is not too busy in the morning and it’s the best time for securing a connection. A lot of messages come in each day since last summer. There will be a lot of academic meetings across the country and the world this year. Our unique empirical database collected over the last decade by colleagues of our Research Center has enabled us to develop many contacts in the field of youth. However, much of our data is still waiting to be analyzed, once time permits. Nowadays researchers frequently play different roles and do different work since two thirds of people previously working in the academic sphere, including technical staff have left to take up better-paid jobs. In the most cases, scholars are becoming teachers and researchers all rolled into one, as well as a secretary and accountant (especially when a project is on-going).

10:50 Replies to e-mails are prepared. They predominantly consist of the information exchange with foreign colleagues and work on domestic and international projects.

10:55. Facing the usual problem of getting on the line. Our obsolete telecommunication system is a serious obstacle to carrying out efficient work. It can take up to half an hour, maybe longer, to make an e-mail connection. The number of people with Internet and e-mail has rapidly increased during the last five years. It was like a revolution in communication and the process is still on-going. Its success or failure will depend upon whether or not we can overcome objective defects as well as on a mass desire to earn money for everything and for nothing. That’s why unlike other countries, Internet and e-mail are extremely expensive services here.

11:15. For the fourteenth time I am try to make an e-mail connection and to send messages. (That’s not the worse result in comparison with last week’s experience when only one attempt in twenty-nine was successful).

11:30. A number of practical issues have to be solved. Several colleagues would like to become regular members of the Russian Sociological Association. They call the Secretary who asks them to send the registration forms onto me by fax as none of them has a fax machine.

11:40. While calling to the main office in the Institute in order ask them to accept a fax for me, I discover that the secretary responsible does not work there any more. Something seemingly unimportant, is actually very crucial, as in practice it actually means that the fax machine will be turned off until a replacement is found. It was also useful given the shortage of resources and funds faced by the Academy to have access to fax or Xerox machine without having to seek an additional administrator’s permission and without having to talk about paper and other deficits.

11:48. The next practical question refers to our forthcoming journey to South Africa for the Summer School. My experience in dealing with the German Embassy last Autumn makes me realize that it is necessary to find out all the rules and regulations set by the visa department in advance. I am now well prepared to meet any exotic demand, even to show available money in order to prove my ability to cover expenses abroad or to leave a country the day before the meeting is finished if necessary. Someone assures me that there is nothing to worry about. However I still have to come three times at the Embassy for a special conversation.

12:10. The final practical thing is the schedule of lectures for new groups of students that are just beginning to study sociology. It is very difficult to be good teacher when one has an eight hour teaching stint on Tuesday. As a result, I am trying to split my teaching over two days.

12:35. As soon as all these issues are resolved, it is time to go onto more essential work. The manuscript of the book based on our last survey, which the Center for Youth Sociology conducted three months ago, is due at the State Committee on Youth Affairs.

14:45. I have a break to relax, have lunch and watch some news on TV. A program about the risk of global natural disasters grabs my attention. This feeling of inevitable catastrophe is spreading everywhere. In Russia that kind of dangers is the product of the social uncertainty and unpredictability which exists in our society.

15:50 – 16:45. I prepare a seminar that I’m conducting this evening in the group of first year students.

16:45 – 18:05. Marking students essays.

18:25 – Take a break for a cup of tee before going to the Institute where I’ll stay until 20:50.

21:00 I am going back home after classes.

22:35 – Last check of the e-mail box before “Internet-people” totally occupy the line.

9:00. 9 o’clock news confirms that we still live in the same country and are governed by the same Head. Good time for breakfast.

9:25. Writing CV and collecting set of the relevant publications for the competition between young sociologists announced by the Russian Academy of Sciences. This is a regular competition that I was lucky to win once, three years ago. (A monthly paid grant as the prize is more prestigious than real financial support for winners. Nevertheless it’s better not to miss any chance to do as much as one can and take part in).

10:50. Going to the Sociology Department of the Institute of Youth for the seminar with first and four year students. An incident has happened on the way to the Institute that I interpreted as a special “present” for better connection between forthcoming discussions on the social norms and behavior and real life during the seminar. Bus passengers were asked to get off in mid-journey. The driver stated that the traffic jam did not allow him to complete his journey, so he stopped and headed back in order not to break the bus schedule. This is one example of the type of ritualism talked about by Merton which is a painful heritage of the former social order.

11:50. Call up to the Department for a cup of coffee.

12:10 – 13:30. First seminar on the special course of the Sociology of Youth. Then I have only ten minutes to run across the campus for the next group of students where I work until 3 o’clock.

15:30. Would be nice to join conference on Youth and Drugs taking place in the Institute.

17:00. The end of the day at the Institute and I am on the way home to do some further reading and not that only.

10:40. I am in the library looking for more information for a book which we are co-authoring with English colleague and friend. It will be published in English and Russian. It seems that there are more young people working here in comparison to three-five years ago. By the middle of the 90-s all youth had left so-called “brain work” and particularly the academic world for the better living standards. That was the period of the euphoria and every second person tried to set up a business or a trade.

11:20. Found and ordered books. They will arrive in three hours and I have got time to get to the Academy (the main place of my work), that is situated two metro stations from the library.

11:50. I was asked to read someone’s dissertation on youth and to write a review of it. As reviewer I am obliged to estimate the logic of the structure of dissertation, its originality, presented proofs and at the event to take part in the Scientific Council meeting where the essay has to be publicly defended. This is an interesting task due to the chance to hear about the latest sociological surveys. As a rule it takes me about a week to finish this work. Just completed review which is sent to the Scientific Council.

12:15. All other business besides review and Competition documents are also finished (final results will be published in two-three months) and meeting begins. The main topic is the “New agenda for social studies in Russia” and the concept of the next Institute’s report on “The Social and the Political Situation in the Russian Federation” that is usually presented to the Government every year.

14:00. Lunch with colleagues.

15:15 Come back to the library to pick books up.

15:25 – 16:45 Brief shopping on the way home, also check messages. This is the most difficult time for a connection. It seems like everybody prefers to send e-mails at the end of the day.

16:55 A Message arrived from my foreign colleague who needs help finding information on Youth organizations and movement. It will take time, but not too long.

16:55 Just had telephone call from the Journal saying my article is ready for publication. Asked to check figures in proofs. Make appointment for next Monday.

17:00 -18:00 An hour for myself before family gathers for dinner and talk.

20:05 -21:00 Another hour in-between seven and nine o’clock p. m. news. It has become a habit for us to watch different types of news, one by one. Comparing the lies produced by various political groups supporting different programs, gives one a clearer idea of what’s going on in reality. People also often find truth in the favorite political game called “compromising war”, which is becoming the only method of the political struggle in the contemporary Russia.

8:00 Go to the Institute of Youth

9:00 – 10:25 Read a lecture on the Youth deviant behavior to a group of the fourth year students at the Social work faculty.

10:35 – 11:55 Seminar with the same students

12:10 – 14:00 Consultation for second-year students who have just finished two-weeks practical work and are now preparing their presentations for the Faculty of the Social Work conference. Trained in research techniques, these students have now collected data and are able to write short articles for the special review “Youth Is Studying Youth”. As a head of the student’s practice, I am to govern the process from the initial stage up to the public presentation of the results.

14:00 Lunch is arranged in the Department. Predominantly female collective governed by woman is (unusually) friendly. Discuss themes ranging from important practical issues concerning up-coming conference and seminar to new recipes and fashion trends.

14:50 Classes are over and I am going back to my main work. The definition “main” largely depends on the criteria used for its classification. It would be more correct to say that research work is my favorite task, but teaching is essential in order to provide a living. In such a difficult situation, most academics have given up research activity altogether and concentrate on teaching in different places. However some still struggle to combine research and teaching.

16:00 Work on manuscript and do analysis of the new data at home. I do most of my writing at home. This is due to the bad working conditions in the very old building belonging to the Russian Academy. As a result, my place of work is the house. However, this six year old problem seems to be nearly solved and the building will be repaired soon.

16:20 Just had telephone call with good news that our last report for the State Committee on Youth Affairs based on the all-national survey results was successful and our team is invited to apply for a new grant. It means that if this Governmental structure (which suffered from four to six or seven reorganizations during the last decade) continues to exist, the next project will be sponsored.

18:20 Shopping for the family to buy food and everything for the weekend and the rest of the week.

21:40 -23:00 Last check of the e-mail box, answer messages.

9:20 I am in a hurry to finish manuscript and forward it to the publisher. Under pressure of inevitable “inflation coil” that will occur a few weeks after the Presidential elections (this has happened in the past too). As soon as all expenses are going to be covered by Institute’s budget nobody hopes any compensation will arrive in case of it.

10:35 A friend of mine has prepared her dissertation and is asking me to read it and make some comments. Agreed to talk next week.

13:55 At 3 p.m. edited manuscript transferred to the publisher. This is situated half way to my family’s countryside house where we usually spend weekends. It is good chance to combine as Russians say a “work with pleasure”. I go there after business is done. The necessity to do lots of things, together with a shortage of time, is an obstacle to having proper holidays. (Ones personal life is so dynamic that the only days are fixed by consciousness are Monday and Friday. Just the same as a year which seems to consist only of three months – January (New Year), June (Summer starts) and December – the end of a year). The program for Saturday and Sunday will again include (alongside with other nice things) writing a chapter for the English-Russian book and article for the Sociology Department regular volume on methodology. The latter is absolutely necessary when one teaches. I am supposed to think up some new interesting types of practical training for students in the framework of a chosen theme. (Have to confess that my first experience was not very good).

16:35 I am expected to visit publisher regularly for the next three weeks while the book is being printed. But it will be in the future and now I am going by bus and looking forward to reuniting with my family in one of the beautiful places of the Moscow region. Let me conclude by saying this. As you know, the weekly diary presented above, is not likely to be typical for myself, let alone in comparison to other Russian colleagues. Some periods are likely to be more interesting than that described earlier. Sometimes events can be less hectic or, by contrast, just crazy or brightly colored by private life, which is missing here.