The Soviet model of modernity and Russia's post-communist political transformation
The article discusses political processes in post-Soviet Russia from the perspective of the multiple modernities theory. The author draws on Johann Arnason's analysis of the Soviet model of modernity. It is argued that the Soviet civilizational and imperial legacies influenced political culture in today's Russia.
This article explores how actor-network theory has redescribed the concept of modernity. B. Latour provides a radical critique of modern rationality by undermining its basic opposition between nature and culture. What he offers instead is relational approach to techno-science. From this point of view, all the actors are initially hybrid entities, and the ontological regime of modernity emerged as an unsuccessful attempt to purify and to divide them into clearly defined 'subjects' and 'objects'. The main paradox of modern rationality is that while it was trying to produce an illusion of two different realms (nature and culture), the number of hybrids was increasing dramatically. To tackle this problem, Latour offered a quite utopian alternative - the Parliament of Things. In the end of the article, it is stated that there is a danger for ANT of being modernist itself. And it is rejection of reductionism that distinguishes actor-network analysis from the other theories of modernity.
The article discusses several approaches to the study of Soviet society drawing on Max Weber’s theoretical models or following a broadly-understood Weberian tradition in historical sociology. Weberian perspectives have been used for the analysis of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and its aftermath. The early Bolshevik Party has been characterized as a community of “ideological virtuosi” while its further development has been described either as “incomplete rationalization” or as a re-traditionalization. In the article, it is argued that employing the post-Weberian multiple modernities approach allows us to overcome some of the difficulties that have emerged in this case. In particular, the article focuses on Johann Arnason’s analysis of the Soviet model of modernity. For Arnason, the Soviet model incorporated both the legacy of imperial transformation from above and the revolutionary vision of a new society. He claims that communism represented a distinctive version of modernity rather than a deviation from the modernizing mainstream. In recent historical studies of the Soviet period, two approaches have been formed stressing the modernity of the Soviet regime or its neo-traditionalist aspects. The distinction between these approaches has been discussed by Michael David-Fox. The article considers the parallels between the new historical studies of Soviet society, on the one hand, and both Weberian and post-Weberian sociological perspectives, on the other.
The purpose of the Mythologies of Capitalism and the End of the Soviet Project is to show that in order to understand popular disillusionment with democratization, liberalization, and other transformations associated with the attempts of non-Western societies to appropriate the ideas of Western modernity, one must consider how these ideas are mythologized in the course of such appropriations. Olga Baysha argues that the seeds of post-revolutionary frustration should be sought in pre-revolutionary discourses on democracy, liberalism, and other concepts of Western modernity that are produced outside local contexts and introduced through the channels of global communication and interpretations of politicians, activists, and experts
This article explores how actor-network theory has redescribed the concept of modernity. B. Latour provides a radical critique of modern rationality by undermining its basic opposition between nature and culture. What he offers instead is relational approach to techno-science. From this point of view, all the actors are initially hybrid entities, and the ontological regime of modernity emerged as an unsuccessful attempt to purify and to divide them into clearly defined 'subjects' and 'objects'. The main paradox of modern rationality is that while it was trying to produce an illusion of two different realms (nature and culture), the number of hybrids was increasing dramatically. To tackle this problem, Latour offered a quite utopian alternative - the Parliament of Things. In the end, of the article it is stated that there is a danger for ANT of being modernist itself. And it is rejection of reductionism that distinguishes actor-network analysis from the other theories of modernity.
The article discusses the conceptions of the Russians that are held by the contemporary Chinese. The research draws on popular literature on Russia, published in China during the last ten years, as well as on Chinese Internet materials and the author's own fieldwork. It is peculiar, the author notes, that in the sources studied, there are scarce mentions of the attributes that are common for both the Chinese and the Russians; whereas what is typically underlined is the controversial nature of the Russians, which is conceived as a negative feature or even a hindrance to mutual understanding. Relationships between the spouses or between different generations within a Russian family, as the contemporary Chinese see them, appear rather far from their own ideal. At the same time, the upbringing of children in Russia is assessed fairly positively, while the image of the Russian woman has much appeal among the residents of contemporary China.
“Throughout human history, perhaps even pre-human, there has been a tension between the need for order and the forces that cause change. That tension is greater now than ever, because, in our increasingly globalized world, the rate of change is also increasing. This book finally explains how we can cope: we have stories. We live our narratives.” Brian Spooner, University of Pennsylvania, is editor of Globalization: The Crucial Phase and Literacy in the Persianate World: Writing and the Social Order "The idea that Axial Ages occurred, and that they provide warnings/opportunities for us today, seems both new and useful. But the value of this book is additional to this stance, in that it looks at cultural change - civilizations - from a complexity viewpoint. These changes are certainly complicated, but the pressures are interwoven and therefore need to be understood as complex. The book does a good job of explaining our present cultural difficulties - our prospective emergencies social, ecological and physical - in a wholly new way. Perhaps we'll get new answers..." Jack Cohen, evolutionary biologist, is co-author of The Collapse of Chaos, with Ian Steward. "This is a challenging and creative tour de force on comparative, global, world history and cross-cultural, complex societal dynamics. Without doubt one of the most stimulating works in the tradition of big history and macro analysis.” Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, George Mason University, is author of Power Laws in the Social Sciences: Discovering Non-equilibrium Dynamics in the Social Universe. “In this book, Dmitri Bondarenko (Russia) and Ken Baskin (USA) compare Modernity with the period historians know as the Axial Age (800-200 BCE) as times of transformation, responding to rapidly increasing social complexity. In doing so, they try to apply the experience of the earlier period, and the time of cultural achievement that followed it, to our time of ideological tension among civilizations. The great achievement of this relatively small book is the lucid way in which the co-authors present a picture of complex worldwide developments, based upon their mastery of recent and older literature, and their efforts to point to a way out of the hopelessly divided socio-political situation of today.” Henri J.M. Claessen, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Leiden University, is author of Structural Change; Evolution and Evolutionism in Cultural Anthropology. “With a lens of great magnification, the authors search through the intricacies of history, selecting its most important threads to weave together. What emerges is a rich tapestry in which the underlying trajectory of history, not clearly visible to the untutored eye, is brought boldly to the surface. And far from being couched in academic jargon—as one might have supposed—the book is a rare combination of brilliant analysis and beautifully crafted prose. Moreover, it ends on a hopeful note with the authors prescribing what they think societies must do if they are to confront and surmount the challenges that lie ahead.” Robert L. Carneiro, Curator Emeritus of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History, is author of Evolutionism in Cultural Anthropology: A Critical History. "I find this a very insightful book, that will help readers to place current cultural developments within the framework of our common past, while contemplating what the future may bring." Fred Spier, University of Amsterdam, is President, International Big History Association, and author of Big History and the Future of Humanity.
Several approaches to the concept of fatherhood present in Western sociological tradition are analyzed and compared: biological determinism, social constructivism and biosocial theory. The problematics of fatherhood and men’s parental practices is marginalized in modern Russian social research devoted to family and this fact makes the traditional inequality in family relations, when the father’s role is considered secondary compared to that of mother, even stronger. However, in Western critical men’s studies several stages can be outlined: the development of “sex roles” paradigm (biological determinism), the emergence of the hegemonic masculinity concept, inter-disciplinary stage (biosocial theory). According to the approach of biological determinism, the role of a father is that of the patriarch, he continues the family line and serves as a model for his ascendants. Social constructivism looks into man’s functions in the family from the point of view of masculine pressure and establishing hegemony over a woman and children. Biosocial theory aims to unite the biological determinacy of fatherhood with social, cultural and personal context. It is shown that these approaches are directly connected with the level of the society development, marriage and family perceptions, the level of egality of gender order.