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Participants of the VII Grushin Conference proposed approaches to exploring the future of society, the challenges it faces and the opportunities it provides.

MOSCOW, March 20, 2017.  VII Grushin Sociology Conference titled “Towards the Future. Forecasting in Social Studies” attracted the attention of more than 1800 experts from more than 80 Russian cities and 13 countries.

Practitioners, public officers, business community and media representatives discussed scenarios showing how society and research industry might develop, methodology and importance of electoral and expert forecasts as well as results of the most resonant surveys.  More than 30 events involving 900 experts were carried out during two days. The conference was organized by the VCIOM and the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA); leading Russian think tanks such as TSIRKON, OMI (Online Market Intelligence), FOM (Public Opinion Foundation) and GFK-Rus took an active part in the organization of the conference.

The Grushin Conference started out with the plenary meeting devoted to possible scenarios of the development of information society and research industry, its key trends and techniques. Different perspectives for the future were expressed by heads of the leading Russian research companies: Valery Fedorov, VCIOM Director General; Alexander Oslon, Public Opinion Foundation President; Alexander Demidov, GFK-Rus Company Director General; Alexander Shashkin, Online Market Intelligence (OMI) Director General, and Patricia Moy, Vice-president of the World Association for Public Opinion Research.

In his overview lecture, the Director of the Research Institute for Economic Strategies Alexander Ageev outlined major global trends in technological development and their possible social implications. Several workshops presented the findings of special expert foresight session “Russian research industry - 2030” that was part of the Grushin Conference, initiated by VCIOM and supported by the Delfi Marketing Agency. The participants discussed political, economic, technological and social and demographic trends that may affect the research industry up to 2030 as well as possible scenarios of the research industry development such as “Open world”, when human behavior quickly changes and information about it is fully available; “Research without data”, when  the data cannot be accessed or is strongly restricted for the researchers; and “Happy one-dimensional man”, when researchers possess all the information about people but human behavior will be changing predictably  and slowly.

The speech of Olga Alexandrova (Professor at the Institute of Social and Economic Studies of Population of the Russian  Academy of Sciences), who spoke on the testing of the legislative initiatives and managerial decisions, and the NAFI (National Agency for Financial Studies) section devoted to behavioral economics and marketing research sparked considerable interest among the conference attendees and media representatives. Famous foreign researchers Jon Krosnick, Professor at Stanford University, and Patricia Moy, Vice-president of the World Association for Public Opinion Research, discussed the U.S. presidential election forecasts and methodological questions along with their Russian colleagues.

VCIOM and Valdai Discussion Club presented a road map for their joint project titled “Future Readiness Index”. The first preliminary results describing the readiness of the G20 to face the future will be announced at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

A special roundtable initiated by the developers of the “Specialist in Social and Social Market Research” professional standard involved experts who spoke about the perspectives of the standard application, the readiness of employers to put it into practice, and the harmonization of the higher professional education programs with the requirements of the standard. A conference guest Diana Mashtakeeva (Director of the Institute for Short-Term Programs of the Financial Academy under the Russian Federation Government and General Director of the Council for Professional Qualifications Development) shared her experience in implementation of professional standards and professional assessment of qualifications.

The results of industrial competitions were announced and the award ceremony for the winners of these competitions was carried out at the conference. VCIOM handed out awards to the companies which are the best regional partners; the Group 7/89 Association of Russian Research Companies awarded the operators of the “Interviewer-Profi” cati-centers. Awards were also given to the students who won the VCIOM Student Research Competition “Sociological foresight: about the present and the future in the modern world”; the winners received increased annual internship on the occasion of the company’s 30th anniversary.

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