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Russian theoretical sociology

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14. Russian theoretical sociology

This sociocultural project deals with the development of the Russian theoretical sociology and formation of its self-awareness. For all the seeming insignificance of the subject, it is very important for helping the Russian sociology to overcome the crisis and for enhancing the role it plays in the society: this role is now negligible. The project is important not o­nly for Russia, but for other countries too, where sociology's position and role is not much better than in Russia. As N.Luhmann noticed bitterly but justly, in the XXth century "in theory of society, sociology has not advanced significantly"; the lack of such a theory results in a crisis for sociology, producing the "impression of fatigue and depression" in sociology[1]. Sociologists do not know society any better than they do themselves. There hardly exists a sociologist who can answer these simple questions: How many sociologists serve each sphere of society in a particular city, country, in the world? Which spheres and branches do sociological studies affect, and to what extent? What is the quality of the sociological product and what is its volume in every particular spheres of society? What is the cost of the product? How does the product affect the reproductive dynamics of society's other resources? How much do sociologists know about the society they live in, and how much they not know it? What modern challenges does sociology record, and to what extent? What sociocultural projects have sociologists proposed to respond to those challenges? -Their mentality traditional, narrowly empirical and used to compartmentalized perception of the world, the sociologists, for the most part, do not have answers to these and similar questions, because they do not even have such questions. (On my researches more than 80 % of the Russian social scientists are monists, Marxists in an overwhelming part, which remain the irreconcilable opponents of pluralism.) The proposed project, which is in fact the program for a new big sociological research into the sociology's basics - theory - is intended to overcome this narrow-mindedness. I hope this project will inspire interest not o­nly nationally but as well internationally. The project is elaborated in an article that was prepared for publication in a major journal almost an year ago but was not published.


(For the English publication, we paired down this article to the list of Russian sociology paradigms and the program for empirical research into the Russian sociology, which can be of interest to non-Russian readers)

If Russia does not have institutions for theoretical sociology, then does the latter exist in individual scholars' work? Are there in Russia individual sociologists who can propose sociological macrotheories? Yes, there are. They are few, but it is o­nly due to them that sociological production in Russia is still alive. IT IS o­nLY IN THIS SENSE THAT THEORETICAL SOCIOLOGY EXISTS IN RUSSIA! Theoretical sociology is a matter subtle, very complicated, depending o­n individualities and requiring a lot of creativity. So, sociologists-theoreticians are "piece-goods." In my estimate, there are no more than 40-50 sociologists-theoreticians in Russia. Based o­n the abstracts from the First All-Russian Sociological congress in 2000 and some other sources[2]. I'll try to compile a list of the sociologists and the theory names.

A.N.Alekseev: Dramatic sociology,

E.S.Barazgova: Ecological approach,

V.I.Bolgov: Cosmoplanetary, energy-informational sociology,

A.N.Vetoshkin: Dialogical sociology,

N.N.Vitchenko: Cognitive sociology,

A.A.Davydov, A.N.Churakov: Modular analysis and socium construction,

T.M.Dridze: Sociology as "science of sciences"

S.E.Dubrovskaya: Informational approach,

V.Y.Elmeev: Social phenomenology,

I.V.Katerny: Environment-centric approach,

S.G.Kirdina: Institutional matrices theory,

M.S.Komarov: Sociocultural approach,

I.G.Kuzina, O.N.Kozlova, V.V.Vasilkova and others: Synergetic approach,

S.A.Kuzmin: Social systems (Systems approach),

V.G.Nemirovsky: Universum sociology,

M.M.Ohotnikova: Consensus-sociology,

Y.M.Reznik: Social o­ntology,

T.N.Salnikova: Activity paradigm,

L.M.Semashko: TetraSociology,

A.I.Subetto, S.I.Grigoriev: Non-classical sociology,

I.P.Yakovlev: Spectral-functional and systemic-cyclical approaches.

The list may be incomplete (I may be not aware of some models and paradigms in the Russian theoretical sociology); second, the choice of names is quite arbitrary: it is based o­n a single criterion, the o­ne which is necessary but insufficient: the sociologist's claim to a "big individual pretentious theoretical project" (A.F.Filippov). Left out are many theoreticians exploring individual theoretical sociological problems, e.g., correlation between the empirical and the theoretical (V.V.Ilyin, Y.L.Kachanov), problem of time (N.K.Serov), problem of social mood (Z.T.Toshchenko), problem of "sociology's sociology" (A.F.Filippov, N.E.Pokrovsky, etc.), etc. My list is o­nly the first rough draft requiring further research, and choice of a criterion for categorising sociological studies as theoretical. But even this list shows the main quality of the Russian theoretical sociology: its PLURALISM, diversity, multicolouredness, multi-paradigmality. These qualities cannot be dismissed, because they are the sociology's source of vital energy and inner creative potential. As I see it, o­nly pluralism and tolerance, rather than monism (which cannot generate anything like that), can lead to renaissance and blossom, and creative integrity, of the Russian sociology. The list shall probably expand. I do not think, however, that there are more than o­ne hundred sociologists-theoreticians in Russia today. The sociologists-theoreticians alone constitute the Russian theoretical sociology's empirical existence and create individual sociological production, for social production is at zero point today.

Russian sociologists-theoreticians are o­n the verge of extinction. Their main occupation is teaching, which pays 30-40 roubles (it hardly is more than o­ne American dollar) in hour. Such a situation can be described o­nly as "THE LEAST FAVOURABLE CIRCUMSTANCES." What the remedy is?

What is essential is to create for theoretical sociology the MOST FAVOURABLE circumstances: to assign top priority to the task of providing it with human, informational, organizational (financial first of all) and material resources, which would generate a situation favourable for SOCIAL reproduction of sociological theories. And who is to create these circumstances? We are personally.

If we do not take care of the problem, no o­ne will. To accomplish it, the Russian sociologists should unite into an appropriate social Movement.

Sociological community should understand that o­nly at a high level of theoretical sociology, the level composed of many DIFFERENT "high" but equal sociological theories, resuscitation of the Russian national sociology, its self-identification, and spiritual unity in pluralism and tolerance are possible.

It is an empirical research and a program for it that should serve as the launch pad for the sociology's renaissance and generation of the favourable circumstances. Quality of the ensuing sociological discourse and sociology's evolution depends o­n the quality of this program. The program's framework, from TetraSociological viewpoint, should consist of four major sections.

  • The Russian sociology's STATICS. Designating resources involved in the sociology: People (staff, employees; their gender/age distribution; education and qualification, distribution among Russia's regions; living standards, incomes and its sources, etc.); Information (the Russian sociology's main schools of thinking and trends within the framework of monism and that of pluralism, distribution of sociologists among the schools/trends, volumes of empirical and theoretical information they contain, etc.); Organizations (their institutional forms: sub-faculties, departments, universities, research centres, learned societies; branch, university, academic sociologies; empirical, medium-level, theoretical sociology and sociology's sociology; the numbers of the employed; main schools of thought, and monistic and pluralistic trends in them; volumes of state and private financing; participation in international organizations, etc.); Things, Material-technical base (premises, transportation, communications, computers and other equipment and supplies, counted up by institution, school of thought, trend).
  • The Russian sociology's DYNAMICS: production, distribution, exchange and consumption/use of the Russian sociology's produce, since 1991, in different institutions, schools of thought, trends; international liaison. Types and kinds of the output produced by the Russian sociologists.
  • The Russian sociology's STRUCTURATICS: its sphere complexes: Social, Informational (cultural), Organizational (political, legal, financial, managerial), Material (economic), which correspond with society spheres. (Or, how does the Russian sociology's structuration correlate with the spheres of Russia's social life and social reproduction; what are the amounts of the sociology's sphere output and input, statistically).
  • The Russian sociology's GENETICS: changes of the developmental states over the last decade; trends and growth rates by region, by institutional form, by school of thought, by trend, by publication, etc. Disbalances, disharmony and disproportion of the Russian sociology's evolution, their causes.

The proposed structure for the empirical study Program - Statics, Dynamics, Structuratics, Genetics - is fit for exploring not o­nly the Russian, but any other national sociologies: French, German, American, Polish, etc.

[1] Luhmann N. Theory of Society // Theory of Society. Moscow, 1999, p. 199 etc.

[2] Sociology and Society. Theses of the First All-Russia sociological congress. St-Petersburg, 2000; etc.

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