From moral therapy to political defiance: Public self-reflections on Russian YouTube

Julia Lerner, Anna Novikova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the first months of the Russian war in Ukraine, millions of Russian-language viewers both within Russia and elsewhere, including ourselves, became addicted to a type of YouTube format that presented 1–2-hour videos staged as dialogues between a journalist and prominent figures in the public life of contemporary Russia. The interviews are grounded in personal reflexive accounts of broad national rupture and rifts in identity resulting from the recent political events and Russian military aggression. This format is formed by an overlap between the personal and the public, and it combines private conversation with political expression in a manner novel for Russian-language media. In this essay we follow the emergence of the format as a particular genre of public self-reflection, focusing on the YouTube channel “Skazhi Gordeevoi.” Interpreting a contemporary script of personal reflection of the public Self coming from a liberal antiwar milieu in Russia, we discuss the role of emotional expressions in moral political accounts of collective ruptures. We find that this format of emotional self-reflection serves as collective “moral therapy” for those in this milieu, both real and imaginary, and simultaneously creates a community of dissenters, thereby becoming an act of defiant talk and civil dissent.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
JournalRussian Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Linguistics and Language


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