Debates on Global Sociology: ‘Unity and Diversity’ of Interpretations
This paper critically looks at the ways in which ‘global sociology’ has been debated and conceived in the past decades. It provides an historical overview of various proposals and ideas and the institutional contexts within which they are put forward and criticized. Two different periods are distinguished. Until the early twenty-first century, on the one hand, criticism of the ‘ethnocentrism of the West’ was often supported by ideas and pleas for an ‘indigenization’ of sociological knowledge. A commitment to the unity of science and to its universalist aspirations remained strong, however. In the course of the twenty-first century, on the other hand, criticism of the ‘northern dominance’ in sociology has become much stronger. Instead of a ‘multicultural’ understanding of global sociology, a ‘critical’ sociology that contributes to ‘global justice’ is now often advocated. Based on this historical overview, it is suggested that global sociology might contribute to more self-reflexivity within the discipline. It helps us to see how different contexts reverberate into the ways in which sociology itself is imagined in this world and provides an analysis of the debates for a better understanding of the challenges which sociology currently faces
Is there anything in the professional heritage of Russian sociology, what may be considered a certain “competitive advantage”, important resource for the Russian sociological community in its dialogue with foreign colleagues? Addressing this problem, we elaborate a comprehension of Russian sociology as a continuing and integrative tradition of social thought development, unified by a set of underlying common features: (1) publicism; (2) moral and ethical concern; (3) issue orientation. Contemporary Russian sociologists often tend to see these characteristics as obstacles to integration process in international arenas with their more rigorous methodological standards and more independent academic sphere. However, analysis of sources demonstrates that attempts to make sociology an as “hard” science as possible, become increasingly questionable. The outlined three features are particularly important, in author’s view, for seeing opportunities for Russian scholars to make valuable constructive contribution to global sociology in its response to the issues discussed.
The paper introduces an analysis of the academic publications as a key indicator of the sociologist’s professional culture. The results of the empirical study that includes a comparative survey of 1829 research articles from top Russian and international sociological journals are presented. Based on quantitative indicators, the empirical evidence of the Russian sociological culture’s considerable lagging behind compared to international standards, was demonstrated. The most obvious gaps are observed in such areas as the structure of research articles; their theoretical and methodological background; diversity and transparency of research methods; sampling; and using of advanced methods of statistical data analysis. It is emphasized that Russian sociologists drop out from modern international trends for non-survey methods of data collection, and the language of Russian sociology is highly «normative» and ideologically-biased. The author concludes that the crisis in Russian sociology is mainly an endogenous process that can be described in terms of a «vicious circle of lack of professionalism».
This article discusses perspectives for the formation of a truly ‘global sociology’, implying active, open, mutually beneficial and equal interaction between sociologists from different locations, countries and cultures, in their joint efforts to comprehend, explain and improve the social world. The study is based on the conceptual scheme proposed by Burawoy, highlighting four different disciplinary practices: ‘professional sociology’, ‘policy sociology’, ‘critical sociology’ and ‘public sociology’. The formation of a ‘global sociology’ demands harmonious development and mutual enrichment between all the four ‘sociologies’, however, each of them has its own path in the global arena. The literature analysis demonstrates serious limitations in the global progression of ‘professional sociology’, while ‘policy sociology’ and ‘critical sociology’ also experience major difficulties. ‘Public sociology’, largely inspired by Burawoy, seems to be especially promising globally due to its key advantages: orientation towards non-academic audiences and a focus on the most acute social problems. However, currently this disciplinary practice has several fundamental constraints: marginality, radicalism, ideological bias and inherent conflict-orientation towards other ‘sociologies’. Drawing on John Meyer’s theory of ‘Scientized Environment Supporting Actorhood’, the article proposes the project of the new ‘Global Solidarity Sociology’, which utilizes the advantages of Michael Burawoy’s project while overcoming its principal limitations.
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.