An individual’s vision of the future is an important factor that shapes his or her quality of life and behavior. The character and intensity of this factor varies from society to society, group to group, and from one moment to the next. Four actors are central to the analysis of the Russians’ perspective of the future: the leadership, political elites, business elites and the masses.

The members of each of these groups have their own ‘‘time horizon,’’ that is, the length of time in the future that influences their decisions, moods, and quality of life. The length of this period depends mostly on how they perceive the level of stability in society, now and in the future. As an actor’s pessimism about the future increases, the time horizon decreases. In extreme cases, the person’s time horizon can decline to the point where they disregard what may or may not happen tomorrow.

Another important factor is the power and readiness of the particular actor to influence the future of society and its institutions, not to mention their own lives. When people believe that it is impossible to change the future, or the fate of their nation, they become either fatalistic, or tend to violate social norms, resulting in crime, corruption and violence. The leadership and the elites in the country play an important role in influencing whether the masses believe that something can be done to change the nation for the better.

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