“Home is where you feel good” or “They don’t choose their homeland”? “We have the government we deserve” or “This is all the machinations of the enemies”? What should be considered patriotism: loyalty to the Fatherland or reasonable criticism and calls to learn from more developed countries? It turns out that patriotism is different from patriotism.

A few years ago, we at the Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis began to conduct a global study of the concept of patriotism1. The participants answered the questions, expressing their attitude to statements such as: “The concept of patriotism is very important to me”, “I owe a lot of what I have to my country”, “I am annoyed by people who speak badly about my country”, “I it doesn’t matter if my country is scolded abroad”, “The leadership of any country, calling for patriotism, only manipulates a person”, “You can love the country in which you live, if it appreciates you”, and so on.

Processing the results, we identified three types of patriotic behavior: ideological, problematic, and conformal.


These people are always in sight and do not miss the opportunity to demonstrate patriotism, as well as to «educate» it in others. Faced with unpatriotic views, they react painfully to them: “I buy only Russian”, “I will never give up my beliefs, I am ready to suffer for an idea!”

Such patriotism is the fruit of political advertising and propaganda in the face of strong social pressure and informational uncertainty. Ideological patriots have much in common with each other. As a rule, such people are strong not so much in erudition as in practical skills.

They allow only one point of view, not considering that the present or past of the country can be looked at in different ways.

Most often, they are emphatically religious and support the authorities in everything (and the stronger the position of power, the brighter they show their patriotism). If the authorities change their position, they just as easily accept the tendencies that they were actively fighting until recently. However, if the government itself changes, they adhere to the old views and move into the camp of opposition to the new government.

Their patriotism is the patriotism of faith. Such people are not able to listen to the opponent, are often touchy, prone to excessive moralization, react aggressively to the “infringement” of their self-esteem. Ideological patriots are everywhere looking for external and internal enemies and are ready to fight them.

The strengths of ideological patriots are the desire for order, the ability to work in a team, the willingness to sacrifice personal well-being and comfort for the sake of convictions, the weak points are low analytical skills and the inability to compromise. Such people believe that in order to create a powerful state, it is necessary to go into conflict with those who prevent this.


Problematic patriots rarely speak publicly and with pathos about their feelings for their native country. They are much more concerned about solving social and economic problems. They «sick at heart» for everything that happens in Russia, they have a keenly developed sense of justice. In the eyes of ideological patriots, such people, of course, are “always dissatisfied with everything”, “do not love their country”, and in general are “not patriots”.

Most often, this type of patriotic behavior is inherent in intelligent, well-educated and non-religious people, with broad erudition and developed intellectual abilities. They work in areas not related to big business, big politics or high government positions.

Many of them often travel abroad, but prefer to live and work in Russia

They are interested in the culture of different countries — including their own. They do not consider their country to be worse or better than others, but they are critical of the power structures and believe that many problems are associated with ineffective governance.

If ideological patriotism is a consequence of propaganda, then the problematic one is formed in the course of the analytical work of the person himself. It is based not on faith or the desire for personal success, but on a sense of duty and responsibility.

The strengths of people of this type are criticism of themselves, the absence of pathos in their statements, the ability to analyze the situation and see it from the outside, the ability to hear others and the ability to reckon with opposing points of view. Weak — disunity, inability and unwillingness to create coalitions and associations.

Some are sure that problems can be resolved by themselves without active action on their part, others believe in the initially “positive nature of man”, humanism and justice.

Unlike ideological patriotism, problematic patriotism is objectively the most effective for society, but is often criticized by the authorities.


The conformal type of patriotic behavior is shown by those who do not have particularly strong feelings for their native country. However, they cannot be considered «unpatriots». Communicating or working side by side with ideological patriots, they can sincerely rejoice at Russia’s successes. But choosing between the interests of the country and personal interests, such people always choose personal well-being, they never forget about themselves.

Often such people occupy well-paid leadership positions or are engaged in entrepreneurial activities. Some have properties abroad. They also prefer to be treated and teach their children abroad, and if the opportunity to emigrate presents itself, they will not fail to take advantage of it.

They are equally easy to adapt to the situation when the government changes its attitude towards something and when the government itself changes.

Their behavior is a manifestation of social adaptation, when “being a patriot is beneficial, convenient or accepted”

Their strengths are diligence and law-abidingness, their weaknesses are a quick change of beliefs, the inability to sacrifice the personal for the sake of the interests of society or come into conflict with others to solve not a personal, but a social problem.

Most of the respondents who took part in the study belong to this type. So, for example, some participants, students of prestigious Moscow universities, actively demonstrated the ideological type of patriotism, and then underwent internships abroad and said that they would like to emigrate abroad in order to realize their potential «for the benefit of the Motherland, but beyond its borders «.

It was the same with yesterday’s problematic patriots: over time, they changed attitudes and talked about the desire to move abroad, because they were not satisfied with changes in the country that make them “give up active citizenship”, and the understanding that they are not able to change the situation for the better.


Ideological patriots and the authorities are sure that the interest of young people in everything foreign reduces patriotic sentiments. We have investigated this issue, in particular, the connection between types of patriotism and evaluations of works of foreign culture and art. We hypothesized that fascination with Western art can negatively affect the feeling of patriotism. The subjects evaluated 57 foreign and domestic feature films of 1957-1999, modern foreign and Russian pop music.

It turned out that the participants in the study assess Russian cinema as “developing”, “refined”, “relaxing”, “informative” and “kind”, while foreign cinema is first of all assessed as “stupefying” and “rough”, and only then as «exciting», «cool», «fascinating», «inspiring» and «enjoyable».

High ratings of foreign cinema and music have nothing to do with the level of patriotism of the subjects. Young people are able to adequately assess both the weaknesses of foreign commercial art and its merits, while remaining patriots of their country.

The result?

Ideological, problematic, and conformist patriots — people living in Russia can be divided into these categories. And what about those who left and continue to scold their homeland from afar? “As there was a “scoop”, it remained the same”, “What to do there, normal people all left …” Does a voluntary emigrant become a patriot of a new country? And, finally, will the topic of patriotism remain relevant in the conditions of the world of the future? Time will tell.

Three books on politics, economics and culture

1. Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson Why some countries are rich and others poor. The Origin of Power, Prosperity and Poverty»

2. Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens. A Brief History of Mankind»

3. Yu. M. Lotman «Conversations about Russian culture: Life and traditions of the Russian nobility (XVIII — early XIX century)»

1. «The influence of mass culture and advertising on the feeling of patriotism of young citizens of Russia» with the support of the RFBR (Russian Foundation for Basic Research).

Leave a Reply