According to the established tradition, sociological research is perceived by the mass consciousness as digital data designed to demonstrate certain political trends in the country. Sociological empirical research, as a very specific sphere of mass communication, has long become an effective part of the mechanism of political campaigns, since it allows, using the "magic of numbers", to legitimise political figures, decisions, processes. Research of a different kind does not cause such resonance and attention in the communicative space of the country; it remains the knowledge of individual groups of specialists.
It should be noted that Ukraine has not conducted a population census for 19 years, knowledge about the structure of today's society is created on the basis of various kinds of secondary data collected by various statistics. Empirical research, therefore, is conducted on the basis of models that are well-established and have shown their relevance mainly in relation to forecasting political processes.
In the mass consciousness, the results of sociological research are largely associated with media campaigns aimed at the establishment of socio-political ideas. Hence, for the citizens of Ukraine, the social system is described mainly as a space of political processes.
According to the picture we have considered above, produced by the media based on the results of empirical research, one might get the impression that there are two social orders in the country, two societies oriented towards these orders coexist. One of them "wants" to move east and end the conflict with a peace agreement, the other - to move west and end the conflict, ideally, with a military victory. Accordingly, within these existing in mass communication "societies" two mutually mirrored pictures of what is happening are formed - "correct", with the supporters of the same order and "wrong", with those who try to live outside it. Interaction within the framework of these pictures makes the political space integral - politics is reduced to the struggle of some "good" against other "good". The entire palette of the lives of millions of people acts as a background, the background of what is happening and is actualised only in this aspect - as an achievement or loss of power.
The state as an institution of public authority periodically focuses on both of these orders, dealing with their inconsistency and reflecting it in itself. All this is reflected in the consciousness of a person living in the country and forms an appropriate general idea about it - its results are visible "on the scoreboard" of sociological research and in the picture of demographic dynamics. This is a rather closed system in which political simulacra circulate, outside of which there is only a "silent majority", which in times of crises acts as a "majority that has been gagged.»
In the political behaviour of the masses, this state is expressed in the structure of political support for political projects of different ideology and orientation, in relation to which the state takes its position, on which assessments of its activities by different groups of the population depend. Summer 2020 demonstrates that four such leading party projects have emerged, towards which the majority of the country's population is oriented in their political preferences - the party of the current government Servant of the People, and the parties representing the previous corps of power - Opposition Bloc For Life, European Choice and "Batkivshchyna ". In the process of unfolding the administrative reform, new political projects aimed at regional elites are also entering the arena. (For details, see Appendix 1)
In the current practice of describing society in the media, it is customary to identify what people think about themselves and society with what they really are, social facts are not separated from the forms and ways of understanding them by people themselves. With such an approach, it is possible, on the basis of the results of a sociological survey, which shows that 60% of the surveyed residents of Ukraine believe in God, to conclude that it exists. Or, based on the fact that none of the respondents saw the far side of the moon, conclude that it does not exist in nature. Likewise, on the basis of the data obtained from the empirical generalisation of people's responses, a conclusion is drawn about the "orientation" of society as a whole - to certain alliances or to support a particular political party with its program.
Sociological research is formed as an element of social and political relations - their conduct is a rather costly undertaking, therefore, they take place only as a result of the interest of customers. Customers are interested in those aspects of social reality that are significant from the point of view of their specific interests. These interests are connected with their position in society, with the processes that make this position stable and allow them to satisfy their social needs. Therefore, sociological research keeps the attention of society to a certain set of problems and at the same time, by default, forms an image of society, which is not interested in other problems.
Relying on the image of society created under the influence of such information and on their own experience of life in it, people form their own ideas about the country. If this image contains components that open up the prospect of satisfying their vital interests, they have a positive attitude to this order of relations in society, if not, then negativistic, nihilistic moods and views are formed.
Public life includes politics - the relationship of domination and subordination. Therefore, the picture of social reality, which is conscientiously described by sociologists within the framework of their current capabilities, plays a dual role with society. On one hand, it strengthens social ties where it corresponds to the interests of the ruling groups - people have massive ideas about social facts and, in accordance with them, they shape their behaviour in society. On the other hand, when studying social processes and phenomena from the point of view of sociology, it ignores and makes invisible (thereby weakening) social ties in the picture of society where this corresponds to the interests of both the ruling groups and those who are under this domination. By strengthening one, we always destroy the other.
Proceeding from this, based on the analysis of the results of sociological research, we can find out not only the opinions of various groups of the population about various issues, but also what are the interests of the social groups ruling in a given society.
Sociological information is perceived through the refraction of the media, which in Ukraine form several large-scale "production machines" of mass consciousness, focused on a number of the most influential political and economic groups, as well as external institutions of influence. In this situation, not all the results of sociological research conducted in various spheres of public life become facts of mass consciousness and participate in the formation of the image of society in the consciousness of citizens.
As a phenomenon of mass consciousness, sociological research in Ukraine is mainly devoted to socio-political processes and is focused on a certain set of problems. The production of sociological information in the country is institutionalised, there are many permanent and temporary collectives engaged in this work. A special role in the formation of sociological knowledge is played by the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, however, the fundamental research of this institution, unfortunately, is very rarely used by the media community of Ukraine for many reasons - from the incompatibility of often biased interest with the available data to the lack of a culture of perception and interpretation of sociological data in the mass media figures.
Considering the topics of sociological research available in media access from the most popular producers of sociological information in the media for the current year, 2020, we can highlight the trends in the establishment of information about society. (See Appendix 1 Research by the Kiev Institute of International Sociology (KIIS), the I. Kucheriv Foundation for Democratic Initiatives, Rating Group Ukraine, Sociological Research, as well as a consortium that combined the efforts and experience of the Ukrainian Institute for Social Research named after A. Yaremenko, «Social Monitoring» Centre and the Department of Monitoring Research of Socio-Economic Transformations of the Institute of Economics and Forecasting of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.)
Even a superficial analysis of the research topics of the most popular with the media sociological information production centres show that they are largely focused on socio-political topics:
- Attitude towards political parties and forces
- Electoral orientations
- Attitude towards public institutions
- Attitude to socio-political processes and phenomena
- Geopolitical orientations
- Attitude towards the past and ideological preferences
- Rating of problems that concern citizens
- Citizens' assessments of the authorities' activities
- problems of war and peace.
The nature of the sociological information produced and broadcast by the media also influences the parameters by which citizens perceive Ukraine, form their assessments and draw conclusions. The "country of eternal revolutions" looks in the eyes of its citizens as a field of political battles that never end. Perhaps this is a necessary component of democratic processes, but it is perceived by the population mostly negatively, as a manifestation of a simple struggle of clans for resources of enrichment. The study of the rest of the palette of life has been ousted from the field of the relevant media space, the self-description of the social system follows a very narrow set of topics.