The Russian Sociological Review, 2017 (2) en-us Copyright 2017 Fri, 30 Jun 2017 22:29:52 +0300 Studies on Governmentality: Six Epistemological Pitfalls The notion of governmentality, developed in the works of Michel Foucault, is actively employed across academic disciplines. Reviewing the secondary literature, this paper specifies and systematizes some particularities of Foucault’s theoretical account which are reflected in contemporary studies on governmentality. Six latent epistemological obstacles in research on governmentality are described—the essentialization of power; the impossibility of agency and counteraction; latent idealism; the inconsistent presentation of governmentality; the shortage of explanatory perspective on the micro–macro linkage; and a vanishing critical standpoint—to stimulate an academic discussion on possible methodological insights capable of overcoming some of those difficulties. Those limitations are seen to be immanent in Foucault’s overall theoretical account rather than the effects of deviation from it. Examples of studies associated with the fields of international relations and sociology support the central arguments of the paper. As demonstrated, the regrounding of a Foucault-inspired analysis of power in the updated version of historical materialism might have the potential to ensure rigor in governmentality research and redefine its critical intent. Further, a consensus is needed on the fundamental notions of governmentality studies to stabilize the research agenda. Recognizing the importance of Foucault’s overall contribution to the understanding of contemporary phenomena and practices, scholars need to acknowledge its conceptual and social limitations. “Stability’s” End: The Political Economy of Russia’s Intersecting Crises since 2009 The article explores the mutual determination of crises that replaced the “stability” of the 2000s in Russia. The period since 2009 witnessed a rapid accumulation and condensation of contradictions in different spheres, from the economic crisis of 2009 to the political crisis of 2011–2012, to the “geopolitical” crisis of 2014, and finally, to the new cycle of the economic crisis that started in 2014. The author establishes the connection between these crises and the political-economic order that emerged in Russia in the 2000s. This order is characterized by the reproduction of peripheral capitalism under the aegis of the regime that combines neo-patrimonial practices with the dominance of bureaucratic elites characteristic of Bonapartism. The 2009 economic crisis revealed the vulnerability of this political-economic order. In turn, the mass protests of 2011–2012 changed the terms of the relationship between society and the state, and triggered the transformation of the regime that increasingly relied on ideology and repression. The ideological mobilization characteristic of Putin’s third term was reinforced by Russia’s actions in Ukraine in 2014. This “patriotic” mobilization has taken place against the background of economic stagnation and decline that have testified to the exhaustion of Russia’s model of peripheral capitalism. The article ends with an analysis of the contradictions and potential points of tension in Russian society generated by continuing economic problems. “Why Do They Go to ISIL?”: A Discourse Analysis of Young Dagestanians’ Narratives The article presents the results of the study into the rhetoric of youth in Dagestan about those who joined ISIL. The authors reconstruct the everyday discourse of the “outgo to ISIL” among the youth in the region, presented by Russian authorities and media as one of the leading regions in terms of the number of ISIL followers. The research focus is not on the public forms of the constructing of social problems, but on the everyday talk, in particular, of the claims made in the course of in-depth interviews. The study is based on the constructionist research program developed by Peter Ibarra and John Kitsuse, and focuses on the identification of the discursive ways of problematization used by Dagestan youth in relation to “outgo to ISIL” and “outgoing” young people. The young Dagestanians occasionally use the rhetoric of endangerment, including the metaphor of a “virus”. However, the dominant rhetoric is the rhetoric of unreason. The terms used in the description of those who “went to ISIL” correspond to this idiom’s vocabulary. The image of manipulation which is central for the rhetoric of unreason is detailed by constructing the image of “recruiter”. One of the identified features of the talk of the “outgo to ISIL” was episodic, that is, different from the previous and subsequent phrases and utterances of young people in accordance with the official discourse, supposedly in order to protect themselves from a possible suspicion of sympathy for ISIL. However, the rhetoric of unreason indicates a lack of social distance between young Dagestanians and those who have “went”. Informants express regret and sympathy in relation to their families, and link the “outgo to ISIL” with unemployment. The informants’ utterances suggest the need for the development of social policy, education, and employment opportunities in Dagestan, rather than the strengthening of repressive measures. Le flâneur comme lecteur de la ville contemporaine The topic of the lover of street-life, the observer, the urban stroller and the wanderer, first appeared in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Man of the Crowd. However, it was Charles Baudelaire who introduced the concept of the flâneur to the humanities and later, owing to Walter Benjamin, the flâneur was established as a central figure of modernity. Recent studies in the humanities and the social sciences have renewed discussions about the flâneur and the urban phenomenon of the flânerie. The roles of the flâneur in a contemporary city are described with the help of the two criteria: the degree of involvement of the flâneur in the urban environment and her capacity to transform the meaning of urban space. According to these criteria, we can distinguish the flâneurs who are active researchers of the city and those who participate in political activities. On the other side, there are more passive observers of the city life and consumers who aimlessly walk in postmodern shopping malls. The aim of the article is to analyze the evolution of theories of the flânerie and introduce an alternative approach to the concept. The approach is based on the hermeneutics of Paul Ricœur that views the flâneur as an active reader, actor-user of public space, and constructor of collective memory. The Mechanisms of State Collapse (a Macro-Sociological Approach) The author makes use of the macro-sociological approach to describe state-collapse regularities. It is argued that the final point of a state’s collapse is the total delegitimization of power, and that elites’ conflict is a necessary condition for such a collapse as well as for successful mass rebellions. The elites’ conflict results from the lack of both material and symbolic resources caused by different reasons. The first reason is a geopolitical overextension, and the second was defined as elite “degradation” and elite overproduction. The author analyses some historical examples (the New Kingdom of Egypt and the Khmer Empire) to reveal how these patterns took shape in such cases. The grounds for various dynamics are caused by different elite positions relative to the government, that is, whether the elite is dependent on, or independent from, the government. This is linked to the type of economic relations, that is, the question of who owns the material means of production. If the state is not able to control them, it can not influence the elite. According to the author, the theory of military-technological determinism which states that types of weapon and the logic of state development are correlated can shed some light on the reasons of different elite positions. The Concept of Cultural Scene as Theoretical Perspective and the Tool of Urban Communities Analysis This paper discusses the perspectives of the post-subcultural term “scene” as a conceptual framework in the study of contemporary youth cultures. In current academic literature, the conceptualization of the concept of “scene” is represented by a range of competing interpretations: the scene as a place, the scene as a space (real or virtual), and the scene as a field of cultural production. The key points of discussion are identified by researchers with the following dimensions: its theatricality, its regularity, authenticity, legitimacy, and a DIY-economy. From our point of view, the “scene” has a number of heuristics advantages which are missing in “subcultural” and post-subcultural concepts. Firstly, it is the connection of group cultural practices and specific places/spaces that allows for the comparison of the configuration of youth communities and cultural coalitions in different geographical locations (cities, countries, or regions). Secondly, the focus here shifts from the analysis of cultural texts and discourses to the implicit rules and meanings according to which individuals produce a “scene” in a particular place/space and time. The concept of “scene” can be used productively in the solidarity approach. This theoretical and methodological composition allows us to analyze the reaction of local youth communities to discursive pressure, the forms of value conflicts typical to modern Russia, and the universal and specific features of local youth group identities. The Sociology of Social Intercourse in the Social Sciences The paper aims to discuss the materials and outcomes of recently conducted research dealing with an analysis of the similarities and differences in current sociological theories exploring social inter-connection phenomena. The authors translate the term “obschenie”employed in Russian literature as “social intercourse”. Four basic theoretical constructions are under scrutiny, those being Anne Rawls’ interaction order theory, Randall Collins’ interaction ritual chains theory, Jeffrey Alexander’s theory of social performance, and Jonathan Turner’s theory of interpersonal behavior. The paper’s point of departure is an idea that there is a line ascending from the sociological theory of human interactions to the tradition represented in social science by Durkheim and Goffman. The discussion opens with an attempt to depict and classify the realities of “social intercourse” occurrences, followed with an assessment of its basic characteristics. Having displayed analytical and conceptual problems that the phenomenon “social intercourse” generates for sociological theory, the paper turns to a comparative analysis of the four noted theoretical interpretations of interaction in society. The outcomes of such an analysis drive authors to present and explore the research dilemmas that configure current theoretical sociological analysis of “social intercourse”. The closing part of the paper delineates the relations between the sociology of “social intercourse” with the sociology of everyday life and the sociology of emotions. Network Approach: Between Topologies of Space and Form This article is devoted to the theoretical understanding of the social network phenomenon and the methodology of its research. A social network is considered as an abstract, ideal-typical construct which makes it possible to get to the level of extreme generalization of already-existing knowledge concerning networks, and to develop the universal tools of conducting analytical operations with the objects exhibiting network characteristics. The methodology of social topology can be referred to with these tools. The criteria of demarcating the systematic and network approach from the systematic and topological approach have been defined. The application of the topological tools of social network analysis, relational sociology, and actor-network theory in studying the main branches of network approach was analyzed from the authors’ positions concerning the conditional division of social topology into the topology of space and the topology of form based on the works of Rene Thom, Kurt Levin, and Pierre Bourdieu. It has been discovered that the research of social network analysis and relational sociology makes use of spatial topology at different rates. The topology of form, in its turn, is developed only in the context of the actor-network theory, first of all, in the works of John Law and his followers. The conclusions made on the basis of analytical operations prove that there is an urgent need to develop the complex synthetic topology involving all quantitative and qualitative achievements made by those separate researchers who deal with topology. Eventually, the use of this theoretical and methodological framework can reveal new facets of understanding social networks. Fiers vs Truffaldino: Sketches of Russian and European Culture In this article, we discuss the interaction of those in positions of power and the subordination of the servant in different cultural traditions. The author contrasts the European practice of rational subordination with the subordination in the more fundamental practice of Russian culture. Speaking about the practices of subordination in the culture, the author is inclined to contrast the collective image of the European servant provided by Truffaldino with the popular collective image of the lackey within the framework of Russian culture as provided by Fiers. The author believes that these primeval service-providers possess features that complement each other and become one. As well, each type mentioned may be specific to the political practices of those in power in a particular cultural tradition. The author examines the similarities and differences in the practical services of the chosen servants in the context of behavioral strategies in detail. Selection strategy, in turn, is communicated within defined constraints. In totalitarian discourse conditions, the servants are unlikely to have a chance of achieving a more-or-less independent positioning or high mobility. The cultural context constructs a hierarchical submission, its structure, and functionality. Therefore, the rational life in European culture can be contrasted with the more-sweeping economic style taking place in Russian cultural tradition. The respect for the servant in the European culture associated with the contractual principle of service is impossible in Russian cultural practice, where the dependence of the servants on the lord seems to be much more fundamental. WEBER-PERSPEKTIVE Old Concepts — New Problems: Max Weber’s Sociology in the Light of Current Challenges A review of the article by Thomas Schwinn and Gert Albert is an introduction to the analogous digest following the symposium held in April, 2014, in Heidelberg in honor of the 150th anniversary of Max Weber’s birthday. The representatives of a new generation of Weber-researchers are trying to present a panoramic view aimed at actualizing the ideas of the author and giving a new impulse to the study of his work. In the first part of the article, the authors trace the changes in the Weberian research tradition that occurred 50 years after the resonant Congress. The Weberian intellectual tradition at the present stage faces other challenges, the most important of which is the answer to the question whether Max Weber’s sociology has sufficient potential to be a reliable theory for diagnosing and forecasting the problems of globalization and modernization, which is apart from the awareness of how modern society has emerged and is being formed. In the second part, critical annotations of reports and publications are presented. Thus, there is an explication of the thesis about the sufficient research potential of the three-part Weberian paradigm (theory, methodology, and historical analysis) for studying both the transformational processes of the present and for forecasting the development of modernity in the future, thereby encompassing a wide spectrum of actualized Weberian sociology. Why Arendt? The “Blind Spot” of the Political Thinking of Hannah Arendt The research is devoted to the constructive analysis of the phenomenon of a «blind spot» in the context of a political reflection of social-historical events and which is part of the thinking. It has a dual nature which influences the formation of our judgments. In the article, it is shown that the action of a “blind spot” belongs to belief. On the one hand, it provides a possibility of the removal of historical judgment, while on the other hand, the nature of the arising doubts about the objectivity of historical knowledge is cleared up. Some of the writings of Hannah Arendt are used as examples in the analytical interpretation of the theory of the ability of judgment. The “blind spot” will paralyze critical thinking since it is a result of the absolutization of theoretical reason, and is also reflected in the political and moral estimates of history. In this research, the investigation of several political appraisals of which Arendt gave of a number of tragedies of the 20th century uncovers the specifics of the results of the “blind spot” in her thinking. The recognition and the understanding of this phenomena promotes an increasingly-sensitive relationship of the particulars of those lives in related history. This recognition softens the ideological commitment for the sake of a more equal relationship between cultures, and averts an involuntary, unintentional cultural arrogance. As a result, it is shown that the intension of the ability of judgment is reflected in the “socialization” of theoretical reason, that the phenomenon of a “blind spot” of thinking exerts an impact on an assessment of historical and political realities and allows for the realization of the value of the restriction of reason, and that the fair, humanistic conclusions of Arendt in a latent form by themselves bear a paradoxical danger of an opposition of various cultural identities. Modernist Traditionalism against Modernity: Criticism of Progress in Russia in the Second Half of the 19th Century (the Case of Archbishop Nikanor [Brovkovich] and K. N. Leontiev) Archbishop Nikanor (Brovkovich) (1826–1890), and Konstantin Nikolaevich Leontiev (1831–1891), whose ideas are often considered as identical, are representatives of the Russian conservatism of the second half of the XIX century. Their views can be attributed to the culture-critical direction of the traditionalist type which interprets modernization as a threat to the existence of both the natural habitat of man and man himself. These thinkers oppose progress, as they believe that modernization is homogenizing culture and destroying traditions. To identify the differences between the views of Archbishop Nicanor and Leontiev, it seems necessary to turn to the theory of “compensation” by I. Ritter, G. Lubbe, and O. Marquard. According to this theory, modernity produces ways of compensation of its own rational homogeneity. Among these ways of compensation, we can find the interest of irrational and unique phenomena, and of individual “stories of origin”. Thus, culture-criticism itself is revealed as a way of a compensation of the standardizing aspects of modernization. Thus, Leont’ev contrasts modernity with “Byzantium” as a traditional culture, while Archbishop Nikanor does so with the ideal of individual Orthodox holiness. This demonstrates the difference between them, despite the fact that their traditionalism turns out to be equally modern, performing the compensation. However, Leontiev was sketching out the ways of destroying modernity, linking it with the victory of socialism which he predicted within the political avant-garde, leading to a new feudalism. In contrast, Archbishop Nikanor considered progress as inevitable, offering to compensate for its negative consequences by maintaining the irrational and unique aspects of traditional religiosity. Sport Helps to Answer Fundamental Questions: Interview with Robert Edelman The interview with Robert Edelmann, the renown American scholar of Soviet sport, Professor of Russian history and history of sport at California University in San Diego, is dedicated to the heuristic questions of study of contemporary bodily practices. In the beginning, the scientist tells about his way into the historical science, on the emergence of his interest to Russian history, in general, and to contemporary forms of work with the body, in particular. R. Edelmann’s reminiscences regarding the situation with American academic community in 1960–1970s, especially the influence of the leading theoreticians of the Frankfurt School such as T. Adorno and H. Marcuse, are of special value from the standpoint of social-theoretical interest. The common thread of the whole interview is the claim on the inadequacy of many, especially the left-wing, intellectuals’ approach towards sport as some secondary sphere, at best distracting the people from real problems. It is further said about the heuristics of social-theoretical, cultural and historical studies of sport related to the names of leading representatives of Birmingham, Lester schools, and other branches of the humanities. Several investigations putting sport in the wide sociocultural context, are specified. Then Edelmann explicates his methodological approaches to the phenomenon of Soviet sport, which allowed him to analyze the mass bodily practices from the perspective of the participants themselves, i.e. “from below”, instead of the widespread standpoint “from above”. In conclusion, Edelmann remarks on the problem of academic acceptance of the disciplines explicitly investigating sport and other cultural practices, which were traditionally evaluated as “low”.  The Soviet Sociology of Sport: Start and . . . Start Once Again (Subjective Notes with a Claim to Objectivity) The two main stages of the formation and development of the Soviet sociology of sport, the first, covering the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s, and the second covering the 1960–1980s, are considered in the paper. It is noted in the introduction that although the Soviet sociology of sport as one of the branches within sociological science of that time in general has an interesting prehistory in the early Soviet years and a rich history of development in the middle of the last century, it has not yet received adequate coverage in the works on the history of the development of this science. The reason may be that in the traditional opposition between “the high” (spiritual) and “the low” (corporeal), the body practices are classified as “second-rate”. The authors sought to eliminate the existing “lacuna” by conducting a brief analysis of the Soviet stage of the development of the sociology of sport. The features of each of the stages (the main vectors of development of the national sociology of sports, dominants, and their transformations) are considered in the context of the time. The authors based their research on sources such as the relative publications reflecting the theme characteristic for each period, as well as some “living memories”, both of their own and of some other participants in the events. These sources could give birth to a certain element of subjectivism, already reflected in the subtitle of the article. National Models of Physical Education and the Sokol Gymnastics in Russia The article examines the issue of national models in physical education, which stands in an apparent opposition to the globalizing tendency in sport. It also describes the place of pre-Revolutionary Russia on the world map of physical education. The emergence of nation-states in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was marked by the creation of national models of paramilitary and/or physical training, including the German Turnen, the Swedish Gymnastics, and the Sokol Gymnastics. The last was invented in Prague in 1860’s with the beginning of the Czech national revival against Austrian rule. The movement united Slavic peoples across Central and Eastern Europe; at the beginning of the twentieth century, Russia joined in. The nationalists developed a special system of exercises named “Sokol”, (after the bird, “falcon”), destined to train Slavic youth. The Sokol gymnastics system quickly replaced the German system in the Russian Army and military schools. In the first decade of the twentieth century, the Russian Sokol Union, a voluntary organization promoting paramilitary physical education, was founded. After the Revolution, the Sokols suffered repression on the basis of their monarchism and nationalism. Yet some elements of physical training survived as part of artistic gymnastics. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were attempts to revive the Sokol physical training as “truly Russian”. The case demonstrates that the issue of nationalism in physical education has not entirely vanished amidst the globalization of sport. Gender, Nation, and Class as Social Mobility Resources Review: Elena Gapova, Klassy nacij: feministskaja kritika naciostroitel'stva [Nation’s Classes: A Feminist Critique of the Nation-Building] (Moscow: New Literary Observer, 2017) (in Russian). From Macrohistory to Historical Macrosociology: Toward the Heuristics of the New Research Approach Review: Sergey Sergeev, Russkaja nacija, ili Rasskaz ob istorii ee otsutstvija [Russian Nation; or, The Narrative of the History of Its Absence] (Moscow: Centrpoligraf, 2017) (in Russian). “Catherine III” Review: Yulia Safronova, Ekaterina Yurievskaya: roman v pis'mah [Ekaterina Yurievskaya: The Novel in Letters] (Saint Petersburg: EUSPb Press, 2017) (in Russian). Review: Hermann Lübbe, V nogu so vremenem: sokrashhennoe prebyvanie v nastojashhem [In Step with Time: The Abridged Presence in the Present] (Moscow: HSE, 2016) (in Russian) Review: Hermann Lübbe, V nogu so vremenem: sokrashhennoe prebyvanie v nastojashhem [In Step with Time: The Abridged Presence in the Present] (Moscow: HSE, 2016) (in Russian)