The Russian Sociological Review, 2022 (3) en-us Copyright 2022 Sun, 02 Oct 2022 20:20:58 +0300 Once again about Sociology and Social Analytics in the Age of Artificial Intelligence Advancement The article argues that the logic and prospects for resolving a continued crisis in sociology will lead social scientists to reconsider the idea of 'social analytics'. The paper advances a general view of prominent scholars about sociology being in crisis since the 1970s. It articulates the theoretical and methodological necessity of transforming sociology into social analytics in the age of artificial intelligence and artificial sociality. The paper proposes the basic characteristics and discusses essential elements of 'social analytics' as a transdisciplinary and potential anti-disciplinary academic subject. The authors assert the key components of social analytics in the principle of "three A's": •Articulate the problem. •Analyze how and what to do with it. •Argue one solution, which is nothing more than a new question. The paper argues that an explicit and systematic engagement with social analytics provides a more accurate portrayal of an unstable social world. It opens the potential for empirical and theoretical inquiry into new realities in capitalism/s development and offers a compelling alternative for challenging dominant frames for discussing the future of sociology and sociologists. “Stop Beating the Dead Primordial Horse”: Actual Agendas in the Constructivist Research of Ethnicity The article describes the current state of affairs in the contemporary constructivist research of ethnicity. While emerging within anthropology in the 1960’s under the influence of sociological constructivist theories, this approach has been developing in a dialogue with “primordialism” and “essentialism”, the ways of thinking which were, to a large degree, conceptualized by constructivists themselves. It has been, however, become clearer that this dialogue is no longer productive, and constructivists faced the necessity to re-establish the very agenda of the constructivist research of ethnicity. Two projects were undertaken in the 2000-2010’s, and are associated with the names of Andreas Wimmer and Kanchan Chandra. The theoretical languages created within these projects, however, were not optimal in terms of their descriptive power. The second part of the article describes a new research program as suggested by the author, within which an alternative theoretical language is proposed, and much attention is paid to the meanings of ethnic categories as well as the social consequences of these meanings. Descriptive and analytical capabilities of the language are demonstrated from two examples taken from the empirical research of the author. The closing part of the article describes the shortcomings of the approach created, as well as the directions for further developments. Back to Representations: in Search of Grounds for Collective Memory The article substantiates the need to return to collective representations as optics for understanding collective memory, which will allow the bringing of the foundations under the concept of collective memory, and expand the theoretical and methodological base of research. As the first step, the author distinguishes between E. Durkheim’s “collective representations” and M. Halbwax’s interpretation of “collective memory”. Justifying the heuristic potential of the category “collective representations” for understanding collective memory, the author shows that the origins of this idea were connected with Durkheim’s acquaintance with the school of V. Wundt: 1) the idea of collective representations is connected with the views of the German psychologist; and 2) the development of the method of sociology bears traces of Wundt’s positivism. Furthermore, the author’s concerns are the ways of preserving and translating collective representations, showing the possibilities of substantiating commemorative practices as performative acts and the need to abandon reflection as a source of collective memory research. In conclusion, the author proves that the return to the idea of collective representations as a basis for understanding collective memory allows us to move away from the metaphorical concept, as well as to reconsider the ways of researching and interpreting the politics of memory, the relationship between individual and collective memory, the study of the place of the image of specific events in collective memory, and the place of psychological explanations. References to the Russan Society’s Values in the Presidential Addresses to the Federal Assembly The digital transformation intensifies a devaluation of traditional institutions and the need to search for new integrating factors which are called upon to be the values shared by the society. We purpose to identify the value connotations in the discursive practices of the Presidential Addresses to the Federal Assembly from 1994-2021. We use such methods as the identification and classification of values by cross-cultural research; content analysis; clustering and mapping; analysis of secondary sociological data from representative public opinion polls conducted in the analyzed years; analysis of macroeconomic statistics; correlation analysis, etc. We revealed the strengthening of the materialistic component of public discourse (Ronald Inglehart) during periods of economic crisis. We also confirmed the Geert Hofstede thesis of the dominance of collectivist values in Russian society, but not the high power distance. Russian political discourse gravitates towards both egalitarian values (Shalom Schwartz) and liberal values (Milton Rokeach). Persistent negative connotations between the public voicing of values and their perception by respondents indicate the existence of a latent value conflict between the elite and society, manifesting itself in an increase in the demand for change. We interpret the increase in the frequency of mentioning political values during periods of economic recession as attempts by the elite to rally around the flag, and also as a consequence of the gradual filling of values with new meanings in the mass consciousness. Persistent negative connotations between the the public voicing of political values and their perception by respondents indicate the existence of a latent value conflict between the elite and society, manifesting itself in an increase in the demand for change. The article both complements existing empirical studies of public policy and adapts well-known theories of political axiology to Russian practice. Business as a source of the recruitment of high-ranking officials of Russian federal economic ministries The article analyzes the role of business as a source of the recruitment of high-ranking officials of the economic ministries of the Russian government. The empirical basis of the study is a biographical database of 225 deputy ministers and directors of departments in eight ministries. The study demonstrated that although administrative professionalization is the most pronounced characteristic of officials’ careers, economic ministries are quite dependent on business as a channel for recruitment of their top executives, which, in this sense, has the features of a “new public management” bureaucracy. Business serves as the main supplier of senior staff for economic ministries outside the administrative realm, while large state-owned companies belonging to sectors supervised by ministries play a particularly significant role. Business experience is found more often at the highest level of the administrative hierarchy, particularly among deputy ministers. Interdepartmental differences are also significant: there are ministries with a pronounced presence of people from business, for example, the Ministry of Agriculture. In some ministries, the presence of intersections between ministers and their subordinates in the course of a business career preceding the current position is noticeable, which may indicate the importance of patrimonial recruitment based on personal loyalty or patron-client relations. The plutocratic recruitment of executives, especially noticeable in a number of ministries, probably puts overrepresented companies and industries in a privileged position in the policy-making and implementation process, thereby forming a kind of administrative bias in their favor. Self-realization and Children: Logics of Space Usage in the Narratives of Russian Women Demographic issues inspire the steady interest of researchers. Therefore, a thesis about the interconnection of fertility decline with the spread of values of self-realization and individualization is still important. In this article, the mentioned interrelation is considered in the context of pragmatic and spatial turn in the social sciences. Analyzing interviews on family topics with Russian women (53 in-depth interviews conducted in 2008-2021), we found that categories of childbirth and self-realization are also interconnected with a spatial narrative. Three logics of space usage have been identified; these are “journey”, where a person sees an almost unlimited horizon of life strategies and abilities; then, “logistics” represents practices of organization of all family members due to the spatial distances between schools and other spaces for extracurricular activities, that is, places that ensure the self-realization of children. Finally, the metaphor “home” symbolizes the logic of the constant efforts of maintaining the integrity and unity of the domestic (or family) world as well as the balance between departures and arrivals. The values of self-realization are significant for all three types, but individualistic attitudes and behavior are clearly expressed only in “journey”. The metaphor “home” means that an individual corresponds his self-realization with the well-being of other family members. In case of “logistics”, a large construct of people, places, and relationships is created to provide the conditions for self-realization. All in all, this study suggests that the relationship between values and behavior of individuals (in particular, behavior related with childbirth) is more complicated than it often seems. The article suggests that various logics of using space allow us to see discrepancies between such seemingly tightly-connected things as building a family and having children (maximizing the number of children). “Monument” versus “dilapidation”: the discursive marking of local history as a factor of the “production of space” in Siberian cities (in the example of Irkutsk) The article analyzes the practices of the discursive marking of “places of memory” and their role in the construction of urban spaces of Siberian regional capitals. The author describes the areas of high-rise residential development formed in the 19th-20th centuries, defined in Russian urban narratives as the “private sector”. The latter is considered as a “nodal point” in the urban semiotic system. It is shown that some communities consider the “private sector” to be an empty space devoid of established content but which can be filled by implementing their project here. Others, on the contrary, appreciate the local history and the specifics of the place, basing alternative projects on these ideas. As a result, conflicts arise, the specifics of which become an emphasis on the theme of the past: the parties put forward different interpretations of the past and try to make them conventional. The aim of the study is to determine the role of formalized representations of local history in these processes. The article is based on 20 semi-formalized interviews with architects, public figures, local residents, officials, and entrepreneurs conducted in the period from 2017 to 2021. Using the results of these interviews, a hypothesis is formulated according to which the groups involved in conflicts tend to interpret the past as a value or a harmful anachronism, and then achieve the formalization of a version that is favorable to them. The representation of local history reflected in the normative language (the status of a “dilapidated / dilapidated building” or the status of a “cultural monument”) is used as a justification for the project to “develop” the place. The greatest success is achieved not so much by the actor who has managed to formalize the interpretation of local history that is beneficial to them, but by the one who has retained the ability to ignore the restrictions associated with the corresponding status. It creates a compromise between the formalized and informal languages of describing “memory places”, which ultimately determines their content. Facultative Groups, Invisible Individuals: The Transformation of Social Relations in the New Technological Reality The article aims to propose an alternative approach to the analysis of the social effects of digitalization. It was, by and large, intended to solve two problems; first, to assess the epistemological potential and limitations of existing theories and approaches, and second, it was to do what Luhmann, following Spencer Brown, called re-entry, to discover the blind spots of these theories, those differences that lead to the unrecognizable, the background, and the reduced, and then to try to re-enter the main theoretical concepts. Re-entry is easiest to accomplish with the new empirical material offered in this article. The study include the following results: 1) proposing a reactualization of Gordon Pask’s concept of “aesthetically charged environments” as a powerful analytical tool for social and digital communications; 2) an empirical and theoretical justification for the irrelevance of using the concept of “communities” in the context of digital practices research and replacing it with the concept of “facultative groups”; and 3) the fixation and description, on the basis of field research, of new forms of digital behavior that are inevitable reactions to the coercive or manipulative nature of digital regimes, which are expressed in the zero activity of advanced users, in the emerging digital ethic of absence, and in the development of new forms of self-discipline. James Scott and Alexander Chayanov: From the peasantry through revolutions, to the states, and anarchies The author conducts a systematic comparative analysis of the scientific worldviews and key research ideas of the American political anthropologist James Scott and the Russian agrarian economist Alexander Chayanov, to show their similar interests in the study of peasant revolutions, state systems, and anarchist ideas. Based on the identified similarities and differences in the milestones of their intellectual biographies, the author compares Scott’s concept of the first ancient autarkic states with Chayanov’s abstract economic-mathematical models of island-states. The article describes the contradictions and failures of modern projects for transforming the nature and society by state bureaucracies as revealed in the studies of Scott and Chayanov, and emphasizes the interest of both scholars in the potential of the anarchist epistemological and political ideas for the development of the scientific theory and political practice of interaction between society and the state. The author argues that Scott and Chayanov are not orthodox anarchists insisting on the complete disappearance of the state; they believe that the Leviathan statehood is impossible and, perhaps, not necessary to destroy. However, in their research, both Scott and Chayanov constantly raise questions about the ways to limit and weaken the power of the state bureaucracy with various forms of non-state public life associated with the anarchist ideas of self-organization, spontaneity, and freedom. The convergence of real and virtual communities in the digital space: a sociological review The paper represents a critical analysis of the processes caused by the development of virtual communities, and by the transfer of social practices of traditional communities into the space of interactive communication with subsequent transformations in the nature of interaction and the social roles of its participants. The authors introduce and summarize the approaches to communities such as traditional and virtual, and enunciate the distinctive characteristics of virtual and ‘real’ communities formed on the territory of geographically limited objects (villages, cities, countries), in similar conditions (historical, cultural, linguistic) and existing in a common regulatory and legal field. Based on the assumption that virtual communities are usually geographically disparate, implying significant differences in terms of historical memory, culture, native language, traditions, and other things, the authors prove that they remain communities in the sense that they unite groups of people based on common interests, goals, and views, ensuring the interaction of actors and an information exchange between them. However, the taking on the main distinctive characteristics of traditional communities, virtual communities lose some of the properties traditionally inherent in communities, such as a common territory, history, and culture. Virtual communities are defined by the authors as groups of actors interacting in a virtual space (for example, in a social network) beyond geographic and political boundaries and united by common interests or goals. They are characterized by a significant emotional involvement of the participants in the process of network interaction. In present conditions, when almost any created (and previously created) content is being digitized, real and virtual communities converge in the digital space: thus, (1) virtual communities take on some characteristics of traditional ones, and vice versa; and (2) the likelihood of adding or replacing spatial connections in real communities with virtual communications increases, which creates the convergent communities. Urban History: between History and Social Sciences The article analyzes the formation and development of Urban History as a branch of historical science before and immediately after the era of the Urban Crisis of the 1950s and 1960s. The concept of the article suggests that urban history was formed in a constant dialogue with the social sciences. At the beginning, academic urban historians appeared in the 1930s as opponents of American “agrarian” and frontier histories. Drawing their ideas from the Chicago School of sociology, they reproduced the national history of civic local communities that expressed the achievements of Western civilization. However, in the context of the impending Urban Crisis, social sciences, together with urban historians, have declared the importance of generalizing social phenomena. A group of rebels soon formed among historians. They called their movement ‘New Urban History’ and advocated the return of historical context to urban studies, and were against social theory. However, in an effort to reconstruct history “from the bottom up” through a quantitative study of social mobility, new urban historians have lost the city as an important variable of their analysis. They had to abandon the popular name and recognize themselves as representatives of social history and interested in the problems of class, culture, consciousness, and conflicts. In this situation, some social scientists have tried to try on the elusive brand ‘New Urban History’, but their attempt also failed. As a result, only those who remained faithful to the national narrative or interdisciplinary approach remained urban historians, but continued to remain in the bosom of historical science, rushing around conventional urban sociology and its denial. The philosophy of travel, communication with locality, and ‘landscape analytics’ Philosophical discussions about travel can easily turn into an analysis of the thinking and self-consciousness of travelers. However, the philosophy of travel should not be distracted from the locality with its materiality aspects. The essential feature of travel is that it implies an affective interaction with the terrain. The interaction can be understood as a special kind of communication Therefore it might be taken as the empirical basis for understanding travel not only as a research method, but also as a method of self-knowledge. The article discusses a collection of papers where such an experience of using travel in psychotherapy is developed in theory and conceived as a field test. This extensive understanding of the “journey” allows us to rethink the role of affects in the study of cultural landscapes. They turn out to be able to show a kind of activity, addressing travelers, and producing some personally valuable experiences (for example, the affect of topophilia). Passion and Rationalism: Max Weber in Freud’s Eyes Book review: Ionin L. Max Weber: A Drama of Life. (Moscow: Delo Publishers, RANEPA, 2022). (In Russian) Ontological security in international relations: on the mechanics of appropriation of territories inside the consciousness of nations Book review: Ejdus F. Crisis and Ontological Insecurity. Serbia’s Anxiety over Kosovo’s Secession (Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland AG, 2020). Apocalypse as a Way of Life Book Review: Slavoj Žižek (2020). Pandemic! Covid-19 Shakes the World. London, New York: OR Books; Slavoj Žižek (2020). Pandemic! 2. Chronicles of a Time Lost. London, New York: OR Books; Slavoj Žižek (2021). Heaven in Disorder London, New York: OR Books.