«Трансформирующая агентность» как предмет социологического анализа: современные дискуссии и роль образования
Negative trends of the global social-economic development enhanced by the covid-19
pandemic explain the theoretical and practical relevance of the study of perspectives for structural
transformations and their possible sources. In education, this means the need to improve the existing
models of institutional practice and to contribute to the development of ‘agency’ that would support
positive transformations in all domains of social life. The scientific attention to ‘agency’ and its
transformative potential in relation to ‘structures’ is still limited compared to the issues of structures’
reproduction. The so-called ‘new institutionalists’ in sociology (including primarily J.W. Meyer and his
followers) provide a promising basis for new theoretical models and empirical studies of the content,
factors and effects of ‘transformative agency’. Meyer’s core idea is that social structures can both suppress
and support the initiative formation of new social entities and the corresponding new values and modes
of action. Further research in education should refer to the concepts of ‘institutional entrepreneurship’,
‘institutional work’ and ‘expanded actorhood’, when using the proposed theoretical framework to
empirically study (1) globally and nationally promoted initiatives in entrepreneurship education in
universities, and (2) processes of transformation of institutional contexts in education under the
continuing global pandemic with an emphasis on the proactive role of students.
The article is a review of the following items: 1. Power, Culture, and Economic Change in Russia: To the Undiscovered Country of Post-socialism, 1988–2008, by Jeffrey Hass . New York, NY: Routledge, 2011. 301pp.$130.00 cloth. ISBN: 9780415666916. 2. Invisible Hands, Russian Experience, and Social Science: Approaches to Understanding Systemic Failure, by Stefan Hedlund . New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 307pp. $95.00 cloth. ISBN: 9780521768108.
This paper develops a strategy for investigating the new institutionalism in economic sociology. An analytical scheme is proposed to link institutional arrangements, structure of incentives, and conceptions of control. Questions regarding the legitimacy of claims on resources and profits, contract enforcements, and business networking are discussed on the theoretical level.
In this monograph I consider the role of institutional entrepreneurs –“projectors” in transferring organizational forms and building new secular school in Russia in the first half of the 18th century. During the period from the beginning of Peter I’s reforms until the accession of Catherine II, the institutional landscape of education in Russia has changed quite drastically. Pre-Petrine and the early Petrine schools were, in essence, pre-modern institutions: a “school” was conceived as a set of students gathering around an autonomous “master”-teacher and his "apprentices". By the time of Catherine II’s accession, however, Russia had a number of recognizably modern schools that differed little in their structure from the classical schools of the 19th century. These institutions were regulated by written instructions mandating, among other things hierarchical organization of faculty and staff; functional delineation of duties; regulation of the learning process and daily behavior of pupils and teachers; formal procedures for assessing and monitoring the students’ achievements and conduct. These schools were designed not just for training, but for achieving internalization by pupils of prescribed patterns of behavior and thinking to be attained through detailed modeling of their daily life and special organization of school space, including a pupil’s isolation from the outside world and constant monitoring. Separate chapters of the book to come out as a result of this project are devoted to the key episodes of implementing these new organizational forms. In the process, we propose a model of constructing the institutional landscape of modernity “from below,” not as the product of abstract “state policy,” but as an outcome of diverse efforts of individual actors, “institutional entrepreneurs,” for whom the introduction of these new organizational forms was a means to realize their own career strategies in competition with other courtiers and bureaucratic players. In the course of this project, we reconstruct the process of transfer of new organizational forms in education in Russia in the first half of the 18th century; demonstrate the role of key players in this process, their motivations, the social, financial, administrative and symbolic resources available to them, and their modes of action; reveal the competitive environment in which they operated; clarify the role of the monarch and the state apparatus in introduction of new organizational forms; identify factors affecting sustainability of new organizational forms. As a result, we propose a model and typology of institutional entrepreneurship as applied to early modern period and demonstrate its relevance to a wide range of countries beyond Russia.
In this exploratory study, we examined several interethnic ideologies held by individuals (assimilation, colorblindness, multiculturalism, and polyculturalism) from a social ecological perspective. We examined moderation effects of neighborhood ethnic density (ED) on relationships between interethnic ideologies and intergroup bias towards various minority ethnic groups in the Russian context. Intergroup bias was assessed as a composite score of bias toward four ethnic groups who have different cultural distances from the Russian mainstream population: Chechens, Belarusians, Uzbeks, and Chinese. We obtained a gender balanced sample of ethnic Russians from the Central Federal District of Russia (N = 359) comprising of 47% women and 53% men. The measures were used in a Russian translation by an adaptation using the back-translation and cognitive interviews. Multiple regression analysis was used to test the relationships. The results showed that high perceived neighborhood non-Russian ED weakened negative relations between intergroup bias and ideologies that purportedly accept cultural diversity (multiculturalism and polyculturalism). On the other hand, for interethnic ideologies those purportedly reject cultural diversity, high perceived neighborhood non-Russian ED weakened the positive relations between intergroup bias and assimilation and strengthened the negative relations between intergroup bias and colorblindness. The pattern of results suggests that the relationship between attitudes and intergroup bias may change based on the perceived ethnic composition of the local area and frequency of contacts. Although our findings are relatively novel they support the emerging view that attitudes and intergroup relations need to be studied from a social ecological context.
The present paper discusses perspectives of Activity Theory (AT) in the context of contemporary globalizing world, describing which we refer to the notion “De-structuralized modernity” (Sorokin & Froumin, 2020). Radical changes in everyday life challenge social sciences and humanities. Approaches are in demand, which have the potential to comprehend the changing human étant and éntre. We argue that Activity Theory has the potential to face these challenges. Leontiev’s AT grounds on the idea of qualitatively new mental features arising to deal with novel environmental challenges, which is much in line with J.M. Baldwin reasoning on evolution. AT also offers a method to prognosis the upcoming neoplasms. In the same time, applying classics of AT to the current reality, “De-structuralized modernity”, entails the need for new theoretical elaborations of the latter, stemming from the radical transformation of the relations between individual and socio-cultural environments. A unique societal context emerges on the global level, which, on the one hand, requires individual to adapt constantly to changing socio-cultural reality, and, on the other hand, dramatically expands his/her potential for proactive actorhood transforming surrounding structures. We argue that the major and novel challenge for the individual is the task of maintaining the integrity and coherence of the a) Self-identity and b) system of links in and with the socio-cultural environment - in their dynamics and unity. The notion of “culture” has particular relevance and importance in this context because it allows grasping simultaneously two dimensions in their dynamic dialectical interrelations. First, the “internal” (“subjective”, “in the minds”) and “external” (“objective”, material and institutional environment) realities. Second, individual (“micro”) and societal (“macro”) scales of human activities. Discussing the ways to understand these dynamics, we dispute the popular “constitutive view” on personality and refer to the concept of the “ontological shift” (Mironenko & Sorokin, 2018). We also highlight how technological advancements change and “expand” human nature making it capable to deal with the outlined new tasks.
The article deals with the ways Russian authorities have constructed the social problem of HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/ acquired immune deficiency syndrome) in Russia. The statistical construction of HIV/AIDS includes data indicating the significant rise of HIV prevalence in Russia since 2000. The study focuses on what and how Russian authorities speak about HIV/AIDS, while there are official data on the rapid spread of the virus in the country. The work is based on a discourse analysis of the authorities’ rhetoric about HIV/AIDS. During his first presidential terms, Vladimir Putin constructed HIV/AIDS not as an epidemic in the country, but as a “global problem,” representing Russia as a participant in international efforts to combat AIDS. The president problematized the HIV spread through the rhetoric of endangerment but without its crucial term “epidemic,” while at the same time de-problematized HIV in Russia by the strategy of naturalizing (“this is a problem that all countries face”). The Russian authorities appealed to traditional moral values and spoke about marginal or risk groups, rather than risk practices. After the deterioration of relations with Western countries since 2007, the Russian president excluded HIV/AIDS problem from his public agenda, despite the existence of the data on steep HIV growth in Russia. The Russian president’s traditionalism, de-problematization, and silence concerning HIV/AIDS lead to the absence of the HIV/AIDS issues in media agenda, the agenda of local authorities, and consequently the personal agendas of Russian citizens. The consequences are ignorance, fears, stigmatization of people living with HIV, semi-legal status of needle, and syringe exchange programs for intravenous drug users, low antiretroviral therapy coverage, and the continuing HIV epidemic.