On some aspects of social differentiation in the republic of Kazakhstan in the age of globalization

Abstract. The impact of globalization on the Kazakhstani society is happening primarily through communicative technological innovation, mainly through information technology. These innovations give different opportunities for different social groups and strata. Elite gets new possibilities for their mobility, wealth and social growth. In addition, it focuses on Western values and operates according to the new rules of the social game, the rules of virtuality. Therefore, it is conventionally defined as Virtual Kazakhstan.

The rest of the population of Kazakhstan receives no distinct advantage from new technologies, especially in financial terms. Also, it does not become mobile and has no possibility of social growth. But it is largely focused on the external attributes to the values of Virtual Kazakhstan. However, the so-called Real Kazakhstan is socially inert and based on the traditional values.

Predicting the behavior and attitudes for Virtual Kazakhstan is simple enough. It is not different from the values of the elites of other developing countries. The behavior and the way of development of the Real Kazakhstan are much more difficult, as there are greater number of challenges and risks. Progress and regress are not obvious, but the third way is also possible: the path of the symbiosis of traditional values and the upgraded Kazakhstan culture. In addition, it is important to take into consideration the degree of influence of elite’s views on the set of values of the rest of the society. Finally, we consider various scenarios of development for Kazakhstani society in a specified social differentiation. 

The main feature of the 21st century is globalization. It creates a new system of relations between the countries, a new paradigm of economic structure. Revolutionary changes in technology, development of a strong substratum of mass culture, the reality of information networks that permeate the world were the precursors of the globalization.

The relevance of the research of the impact of globalization and its accompanying elements, such as information systems, is essential for the Republic of Kazakhstan. The entry of our country into the world economy, the achievement of “modernity” as the goal set in front of the society, are determined primarily by the following circumstance – in what way we would enter the new world of high technologies and dynamic economy.

First of all, the influence of external factors showed up in the economy and foreign policy. Kazakhstan has begun integrating into the world economic system, which required it to fix its international activity in political form, through international agreements, new political institutions. Thus, this year, our country entered the WTO.

Another consequence of globalization is the change of the inner content of the political process in Kazakhstan. However this internal process is more complex and multi-level, so it is still far from being finished.

Political modernization must have changed the political system of Kazakhstan in the framework of “Westernization” model so that to create conditions for attracting foreign investments. The long-term search for Kazakhstani identity has been hampered by lack of time, and therefore there has been conducted mechanical reception of the institutional system, which is superficially successfully correlated with the political structure of investor-states, especially the United States.

Deep, paradigmatic foundation of Kazakhstani society was weakly taken into account. Gradually that had a negative effect on the perception of the accepted model by Kazakhstani socio-cultural matrix [1]. If given availability of time, the search for its own political system that takes into account traditional values in collaboration with the logic of the information age would be more efficient and natural. This model would be the most modern and suitable for the Kazakhstani society, as it would affect the vast majority of Kazakhstan citizens, the social base of the new model.

“Ultra-westernized” version extrapolated on Kazakhstani ground, is not simply the adopted innovation, but, due to the reasons mentioned above, is the quasi-innovation, caused by the tactical interests of investments and technology transfer, rather than the real need for deep change.

Therefore, this quasi-innovation has affected mostly only upper power structures in the country. These structures coexist with the rest of the Kazakhstani society. It is necessary to distinguish here a small upper part and large lower one that our society is separated into. Indeed, Kazakhstani society at the present stage is not homogeneous, for example, according to the Gini index. This index shows the existence of a gap between these social strata [2].

Therefore, conventionally Kazakhstani society could be divided into two parts: the so-called Virtual Kazakhstan and Real Kazakhstan. In favor of such a division of the Kazakhstani society it is said that the Virtual Kazakhstan on a number of parameters (degree of manipulation of information technology, the frequency of Internet use, etc.) is available primarily to upper strata of society. 

Stable position of the Real Kazakhstan should also be noted, as its own autonomous development is slowed down while in some areas it is even in the phase of stagnation. However, this does not exclude a plurality of variants of its development after the transition to a different phase [3].

It should be added that these two parts of Kazakhstani society are moving asynchronously. Virtual Kazakhstan is faster therefore the impulses it emits have much stronger impact on the Real Kazakhstan.

To understand the processes, the concept of the Virtual Kazakhstan must be structured as a certain system. Virtual Kazakhstan is conditionally divided into representatives of “old” and “new” elites. Despite all their differences, they constitute a kind of integrity that has been able to accept the most advantageous reception of quasi-innovative model of Western democracy. Representatives of Virtual Kazakhstan get a certain effect by the prolongation of the quasi-model activity, though they pursue different interests.

Interestingly, the “new elite”, which is a part of Virtual Kazakhstan, does not correspond to the political elite of Kazakhstan, as its representatives are weakly fit into political process.

Conventionally, the “new elite” includes those representatives who exercise leadership positions in industries that require compliance to modern international standards; that have a high proportion of intellectual work. They are specialists in the field of information technology; adapters of technological innovation; representatives of the scientific and technical intelligentsia engaged in the processing of the content. They are specialists in the field of technical innovation and humanitarian activities, scientists, representatives of the pop industry, etc. Characteristically, the separation of these professionals in a special group in Kazakhstan is happening on the same algorithm, which was described by A.Toffler in his predictions about the future of post-industrial society [4].

Into the new elite we may also include representatives of the “yuppie generation”, who do not possess their own considerable financial resources in business, but know how to play on other people’s finances. These actors of “new elite” are in permanent contact with the external environment, using the information flow of the modern world, extracting information that is critical to their lives. Their existence is conditioned by hard rhythm of the global economic system.

Experts in the field of information technology can’t be far behind in the development from their global peers, as it instantly sets up a professional barrier between them and casts doubt on their existence as specialists. After losing contact with the external environment, representatives of the “new elite” are at risk of losing the benefits received from leading innovative technology’s actions.

The new elite depend on foreign technology environment, and do not depend on the Real Kazakhstan. The lower strata of Kazakhstani society do not have any decisive influence on “new elite”. In contrast, “new elite” itself has a strong influence on the lower stratum in two ways: firstly, through information technology, and the manipulation of the mass consciousness [5]. Second, “new elite” is a symbol of success for the Real Kazakhstan as the new elite - people who are “self-made”.

Representatives of the “new elite” are weakly linked to local conditions and can exist independently from them and from the internal environment, as their life is conditioned only by external environment, with its new technological paradigm. Actors of the “new elite” are quite cosmopolitan in their values and do not accept patriotic motivation because of its irrationality. The new elite is tied more to the values of “Consumer Society”.

The second part of the Virtual Kazakhstan is the “old elite”. Representatives of these elite called themselves “Old Guard”, but Kazakhstani “Old Guard” has no relation to the traditional aristocracy “by blue blood”. “Old Guard” has a genetic link with the previous, Soviet administrative-command system. “Old Guard” includes those who are able to maintain authority in modern Kazakhstan, and are directly related to the mechanism of allocation of government material resources. Actually, it is the representatives of this group who determine the policy of Kazakhstan at the present stage, with all the advantages and disadvantages [6].

“Old elite” includes political establishment, owners of the banks, industrial companies, etc. “Old elite”, having power and resources of the Soviet tradition, seeks to strengthen its position in Kazakhstan. Changing patterns of social organization in the quasi-model has weakly affected it since Soviet traditions were changed minimally. Soviet historical background has a tremendous impact on modern social and ethnic processes in Kazakhstan, sometimes staying with them in fundamental contradiction [7].

There are fundamental contradictions between new and old elite. The old elite are ruled by tradition, and their power is based on maintaining the status quo and the absence of major changes in the structure of society, production and management systems. The new elite, on the contrary, is focused on the rapid changes on the new conditions of modernization.

Consequently, we have two contradictory trends – conserving position by the old elite and craving for a quick change from the new elite. However, it is clear that nowadays there is need for the post-industrial processes. This leads to the problem of intensive search for the best way of retaining power of the old elite. And one of the options - to neutralize external influences through the active development of the internal potential of the society, the search for the third way, the way of compromise.

The idea of the third way is usually implemented in the form of populism and therefore associated with the concepts of “national idea”, “internal modernization potential”, but in fact its essence is to maintain the existing status quo and the symbiosis of old and new elites.

An example of a successful third way is a precedent in Japan, South Korea and other “Asian dragons”, which capitalism and social order do not correspond to Western models. Nevertheless, level of industrial growth and technological basis are comparable to the developed Western nations. Indeed, the idea of the third way was formed, in fact, with the advent of these brightest examples.

Thus, the idea of the third way is connected primarily with the constructionofastableandeconomicallyprosperoussociety, rapidlyentering the mainstream of the world’s technological and economic processes. As famous scientist M. Castells rightly observes, traditional societies are now looking for ways to modernize, basing on their values and new information paradigm [8]. For the state, the third way and its implementation means a high level of independence, both in the economy and politics and the cultural sphere.

In conclusion, it should be noted that in Kazakhstan there is no strong ideology unifying the nation, weakening of traditional cultural and ethnic base reduces the possibility of implementing the third way. Nowadays Real Kazakhstan is actually in a state of social stagnation, and there is a fight between the old and new elites for the choice of development path. One group proposes to follow the path of re-Sovietization, another offers the Western vector, but common and arrange variants are not generated. However it is necessary to continue the search for such variant as another historic choice does not exist for us.



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Year: 2016
City: Almaty