Сообщество как данность и сообщество как процесс: стратегии изучения малых городов
Community studies in social science tend to treat community as a given object with structural characteristics to be revealed. This approach is particularly adopted by researchers of local communities, including small towns. However, it is questionable whether all spatially localized social aggregates can be rightfully called communities. This paper argues that even though his approach has a long tradition in social science, it cannot deal adequately with the key issue of integration and disintegration of communities. We rely on classical sociological theory to suggest a strategy of analysis that pays attention to the dynamics of social cohesion and considers community from the standpoint of unification processes. Building on empirical data gathered during the studies of Russian small towns, we indicate several mechanisms of consolidation and supporting the communities.
The article discusses approaches to the definition of social cohesion, challenges of the conceptualization discussed. Definitions of social cohesion vary not only from one studying it discipline to another, but inside this disciplines as well. Today, "social cohesion" - is not a concept, but the variety different ones. In addition to academic interest, research cohesion stimulated by political debate, in which the term has become increasingly popular. The article begins with a general reconstruction of the cohesion concepts in the classical works on sociology. In the following parts of the paper questions connected with the definition of social cohesion are examined. In studies of small groups we observed group and individual levels of social cohesion.
Early studies of cohesion in social and psychological works considered cohesion in terms of attractiveness of the group to its members. This interpretation has been criticized for its emphasis on the subjective perception of individuals and lack of attention to the group characteristics of cohesion. However, emphasis on groups has disadvantages. Interrelation and contrast between the two levels of cohesion is one of the most serious problems in the research of cohesion. There is an acute question of the interrelationship between rational and affective factors of cohesion. Researchers disagree on whether to consider the cohesion as a process or some condition. In many works cohesion appears as a synonym of solidarity and trust, and in different ways relates to such concepts as inclusion, social capital, social diversity, poverty. Later studies of social cohesion are mainly oriented to the multi-dimensional model. Social cohesion is presented in such studies as a composite concept, which reduces the interaction of independent factors.
Despite a long tradition of research into social cohesion and the development of sophisticated instruments to measure it in different groups, the scientists are far from agreement on the single definition. The paper proposes a new approach to the design of the most successful definition of social cohesion. The essence of this approach is to appeal to the everyday usage of the "cohesion" concept. Ordinary language is the key to understanding the cultural context (the "form of life"), which belongs to members of a particular community. Understanding the categories of ordinary language is not aimed at finding their essence but not a description of how and in what circumstances members of observed community use these categories. Search of the ordinary values of social cohesion is a variant of the necessary preparatory work, which is often by passed in research practice. Attention to use the concept of "cohesion" in ordinary language practice avoids confusion and controversy surrounding the definition of cohesion, providing a reliable criterion for its understanding.
Russian intellectual tradition gives examples of amazing scientific discoveries and insights (insights), which in the current historical period rather unexpectedly take on a second life. One of the most significant examples of this kind of renovation traditions associated with the ideological heritage of outstanding Russian scientist Pyotr Alekseyevich Kropotkin. It Kropotkin developed in the context of their historical situation the concept of cohesion, self-organizing communities of mutual aid and altruism, to express, in his opinion, the very essence of public relations in historical perspective and contemporary dynamics.
We discuss the theoretical and applied aspects of coexistence, interaction and confrontation between "modern" and "traditional" forms of social cohesion. We demonstrate the adaptive potential of different types of cohesion in the context of socio-cultural transformations. Drawing on empirical material we analyse the mechanisms and factors of integration and fragmentation at different levels of the social organization and communication.
This chaper refers to the problem of low productivity and weak competitive stand of plants located in small and particulalry small specialized towns as compared to firms in bigger and more diversified locations. The findingds imply that the urban size and density of economic space, as well as its excessive sectoral specialization significantly reduce the firm competitiveness. Yet, the sectoral structure matters: textile and garmet plants in small towms are most vulnerable. Minimal diversification of economic structure and sufficient scale economy at the plant level allow to reduce the negative effects of the urban size.
Certain altruistic phenomena in the workplace that exceed the bounds of contract theory can be explained within the framework of gift exchange theory. We discuss the application of gift exchange theory to interactions between an employer and an employee as well as between employees themselves. We emphasize the opportunities of gifts to improve coordination and contract efficiency in the workplace and argue that there exists the productive function of gifts. We use the framework of a market for externalities in order to demonstrate that given the interrelated activities of agents a gift exchange between them can lead to Pareto improvement.