Socioeconomic Reality in the Subjective Dimension

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-10-54-63
G. Monusova (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.

Received 12.03.2021.

Abstract. All social and economic aspects of human life can be described by statistical data that claims to be objective. Still, people hold a distinctive view of the world, differing widely from the official one. Statistics is the key means to make management decisions. It helps to adopt a balanced and responsible approach to determining priorities for the social development strategy. However, those steps taken by the government that do not correspond with subjective perception and expectations might be insufficient to improve the lives of the people. Individuals act and react according to their own views. Their behavior is key to understanding crucial social issues; it is also a reference point for social policies which might be more accurate than objective criteria. Discrepancies between academic and ordinary cognition are attributed to limited objective (statistical) data as well as the specific nature of individual perception of reality. In the first part of this paper, based on the findings of international research and public opinion polls (ESS, Ipsos MORI, Perils of Perception), the authors establish that perceptions dominant in the public mind are misaligned compared to conventional statistical evaluation. They also analyze the scale of misalignment variations in several countries. The second and third parts of the article examine the reasons behind these discrepancies. Having scrutinized the statistical “objectivity” of social and economic phenomena such as inflation, unemployment, migration and their reflection in the public mind, the authors conclude that objective indicators are not the ultimate truth. Their impartiality is based on data acquisition and calculations detailed in the general theory of statistics as well as generalized conventional definitions. Although subjective variables have been introduced into this field in recent times, the vast majority of statistical indices have not taken public opinion into account. The reality, however, is more complex and multifaceted, it does not fit into levelized indicators. Conversely, subjective public views do not appear out of thin air. They are largely affected by the trust in government institutions, influenced by ideologies and systems of value and cemented by the views of a reference group and media. These findings might help to fine-tune social policies and explain voting behavior.

Keywords: perception, public opinion, subjective evaluation, value judgment, objective indices, unemployment, migration, inflation, trust, reference group, media


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For citation:
Monusova G., Goffe N. Socioeconomic Reality in the Subjective Dimension . World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 10, pp. 54-63.

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