Russian era highlights fundamental tensions in society

Russian era highlights fundamental tensions in society
  • Willie Pedersen

    Professor at the Department of Sociology and Social Geography, University of Oslo, Nova/Oslo Mitte

The Russian era seems to have a Teflon coating that makes the criticisms bounce. why? asks sociologist Willie Pedersen.

An icy text message stated that he had lost his seat on the bus. I’ve been researching the topic for many years and I know this isn’t new.

This is history. Opinions expressed in the text are at the author’s expense.

Two years ago there was an epidemiological situation of the Russian era. But now Russian buses are starting to roll again. There is still something new: the painful stories of those who did not get a seat on the Russian bus because they did not perform well enough in the “test”, are presented with new force.

A 20-year-old says an icy text message that he lost his place on the bus. Best friends disappeared. He lay under the duvet and cried, needed the help of a psychiatrist and had to take a break from school.

I’ve been researching the topic for many years and I know this isn’t new. Young people themselves, teachers and parents have known that the Russian era, especially the Russian buses, has the evil face of Janus: on the one hand, the intense community and the joy of excesses that can foster friendships that can last a lifetime. At the same time, getting into the Russian bus may be more nerve-wracking than some tests. For some, the bus is a brutal machine of social exclusion.

Russian buses can be a topic from the end of high school. The excitement of whether you’ll get a seat on one of the school’s high-profile buses can be just as important as asking what the environment will be like in the new class and whether you’ll thrive in school.

There has always been criticism of Russian celebration, with its risks of injury, accidents, violence and sexual assault, and now with an emphasis on persistent social exclusion.

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But it seems to have a Teflon coating that makes the criticisms bounce. why?

Elite showed the way

It started as a phenomenon of our young absolute elite. Royal Frederick University in Christiania was founded in 1811.

The first 18 students were admitted in 1813 and would roam the streets, shout, sing and drink in taverns, while relying on a ritual that had been used in European universities since the Middle Ages, called Cornua Rasporos. The word rus comes from the last syllable and means that the horns worn by a schoolboy, symbolically torn before his admission to the academy.

From the end of the nineteenth century, the nature of the ritual changed and began to herald the end of the cycle of preparation for study. But it was still a small exclusive group. This was the situation until the post-war period.

The beloved Thorvald Stoltenberg was president of Russia in 1950. And there were less than 5,000 people who received artyom in Norway.

With parental support

Now more than half of the cohorts complete a preparatory course of study, but the Russian era still borrowed legitimacy from the long tradition.

The students themselves say they “deserve” liberation after so many years in school.

Perhaps most surprisingly, many parents seem to accept several weeks of partying and drunkenness, with beer, alcohol and increasingly marijuana joining in the center.

One reason is that many reflect their youth at the Russian celebration of children. Parents often have memories that they can relive, and that laughter can share with children.

Children from families with strong financial resources are the densest in Russia

Most prevalent is intense celebration in environments with a lot of finances. Wealthy parents can raise a lot of money to buy cool clothes, Russian cards, and event tickets.

But it is the bus that travels the most.

With advanced sound systems, stylish furnishings, a rental driver and often your very own Russian song, the sums can be big. Children from families with strong financial resources are the densest in Russia.

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Fear of exclusion

An equally important reason for good intentions is that many parents try the alternative to the expensive russet as worse. This is the main topic of stories that have grabbed a lot in recent weeks.

The Russian bus is also one social structure. The post organizes daily life and leisure, with whom you are connected, our holidays and birthdays and your communication on social media.

With a seat on the bus, you can make exclusive invitations to take part in the “Rolling Over”. This is why a text message telling you to get off the bus can be so exciting. You know that important relationships are cut.

Of course, parents know this. Everyone is afraid to leave their son or daughter alone in the room and follow other people’s party and have fun on social media. Therefore, it is not only young people who will agree, and they will breathe a sigh of relief. My mom and dad would like that too.

“Rusleruss” and “russ på sparebluss”

It may seem that Russian time is getting longer and longer, and that the habit of Russian buses is spreading to new territories, as well as outside major cities.

But the picture is not clear, because in large parts of the country there are hardly any Russian buses, and in more and more places we see that young people are turning away in subtle ways from the more strict Russian festivities.

They can call themselves “rusleruss”, “russ på sparebluss” or “T-baneruss”. They love to do so with quirky smiles and sometimes with thoughtful sarcasm. Now it takes place in Haugesund and Trondheim, and in the whole of northern Norway you will not find a single Russian bus.

In more and more places, we’re seeing youngsters in subtle ways distancing themselves from the more extreme Russian festivities

That evening, Russian buses began cruising around Oslo, and students from Elvebakken gathered for a concept launch in the abandoned industrial building Hausmania, known for its home occupancy, counterculture and vegan café. The concept was called Bacchanalia 2022. They said with a smile that they “love to stay down to earth”. The keywords were cheap and sustainable.

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At the neighboring Edvard Munch School, students sew Russian suits themselves, and they are proud of their own designs.

Barometer of the cultural struggle

In Oslo, the most intense Russian celebration has always been held on the flourishing western edge. This is where Russian buses originated, and the bus can remain an important reference later in life.

In the schools located in the east of the city, where there are fewer wealthy parents and more with immigrant backgrounds, attitudes towards the Russian era seem even more frosty.

To a greater extent, this applies to elite central schools with high requirements, an emphasis on environmental protection, anti-racism and political commitment.

Students here may celebrate the Russian era, but with membership and laid back pattern. It would be devastating if the reputation of so many were newly rolled on one of the fattest Russian buses from west of Oslo.

In this sense, the Russian era in Oslo is a sensitive measure of more basic features of society. Background is what sociologists like to call economic and cultural capital.

“We are the makers of morals,” King Henry V consciously says in Shakespeare’s play of the same name. He knew that he himself was the most important influencer of his time and used the phrase as a verification trick to get his French princess.

Who will shape the style and fashion of the leading Russian era in Oslo this year? If you take a trip to the city skyline on May 17, you’ll likely see the cultural conflict unfold.

How about spending the day looking for patterns in the literature, self-awareness, and style of Russians from across the city?

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

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