Hannah Arendt’s concept of freedom is exceptional in contemporary political theory. First, it is positive, which puts it into opposition to the both current versions of its negative counterpart, the liberal (Isaiah Berlin), and the republican (Quentin Skinner, Philip Pettit) concepts of freedom. In particular, a comparison between Arendt’s and Pettit’s approaches allows establishing some striking points of antagonistic logical mirroring. Based on this, the notion of “schools of thought” is introduced, which plays an essential role in the subsequent discussion of Arendtian realism. Second, although Arendt’s theory of freedom shares features that are common to the major continental thinkers, like Martin Heidegger, Gilles Deleuze, or Alain Badiou, her solution to the problem of freedom aligns her closer to the liberals. Third, I argue that one should consider this logical irregularity as evidence in favor of her political realism, rather than a trivial inconsistency. This realism is the genuinely exceptional part of her legacy, which may guide us eventually, with modifications applied, to a paradigm shift in the current political philosophy. Finally, I present an evaluation of her solution to the problem of freedom, and a brief follow-up to some seemingly-out-of-place Arendtian notions, such as “excellence” and “elite.” Although in the final analysis, her solution seems to be artificial, it opens up a new promising area of research related to the notion of “benevolent excellence.”
Matthew Ratcliffe’s book is not so much a book on depression but rather on the experience of depression — on what it means to be depressed. The book’s subtitle is “a study in phenomenology”, but it targets the general public as well as the academic and clinical communities. It is well written, clearly structured, informative and can serve as an excellent introduction to the phenomenology of mental illness as it illustrates the relevance of phenomenological psychopathology to philosophers, sociologists and everyone interested in the question of what constitutes a human being. In sociology “situatedness”, agency and the ability to make judgments are often taken for granted, but Ratcliffe’s analysis shows, and very convincingly, how fragile these key characteristics of the social actor are, how easily they can be diminished and altered, and to what extent the fundamental structures of intersubjectivity can be deformed. One has to be constantly aware of these matters when studying social interactions. Mental health issues not only prevent us, human beings, from becoming a “happy and productive workforce” (as the British Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood gracefully put it), they also constitute a significant scientific challenge for all who do social science. I am sure that sociologists would benefit from more attention to this important and indeed pressing theoretical problem.
In the 1960s Mancur Olson and Samuel Huntington suggested that the positive correlation between per capita income and the level of sociopolitical destabilization that they detected for low and middle income countries might be partly accounted for by the growth of the inequality associated with the economic and technological development in these countries. The empirical tests we perform generally support this hypothesis, but they also identify certain limits for such an explanation. Our tests reveal for low and middle income countries a statistically significant correlation between GDP per capita and the economic inequality levels, but this correlation is not particularly strong. Earlier we found for the same countries significantly stronger positive correlations between GDP per capita and some important components of sociopolitical destabilization, such as the intensity of political assassinations, general strikes and anti-government demonstrations. It is quite clear that the strong association between the increase in the intensity of these components of sociopolitical destabilization and GDP per capita growth, can be explained by a much weaker tendency toward the growth of economic inequality only partly. In addition, our empirical tests suggest the presence of a certain threshold level of about 40 points on the Gini scale, after crossing which one can expect a radical increase in levels of sociopolitical destabilization in general, and the intensity of terrorist acts / guerrilla warfare and anti-government demonstrations in particular. According to the World Bank, the value of the Gini coefficient for Russia is now just in this zone, which suggests that the further growth of inequality in Russia could lead to an abrupt increase in political destabilization.
In the Editorial the overview of the submissions is provided and general framework for the issue is introduced.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with married Russian fathers, this paper focuses on the gender contracts and father-hood models of the middle class of contemporary Russia. It shows that while the ideal of fathers heavily involved in day-to-day parenting is widespread, the reality is somewhat different despite the active participation of Russian mothers in the labor market. Still, for most Russian men, fathering as a set of everyday practices of engaging with their children has more value than for the generation of their fathers. The research shows that modern Russian society can be characterized by the co-existence of egalitarian and traditional tendencies in gender relations. On the one hand, the practices of involved fathering are evolving, and on the other hand, the traditional patterns of masculinity are enforced, excluding fathers from the sphere of parenthood. Economic factors and rigid notions about the family gender contract are the main obstacles which prevent Russian men from “doing” involved fatherhood. The liberal phenomenon of “new fatherhood” which appeared in Western countries turned out to be much more conservative in Russia. The modern family is still the “space of struggle,” and this struggle is counter-directed: it can be a fight for survival, or for power, or for an egalitarian gender order, against the discrimination of men as secondary parents, against old-fashioned traditional views on the father’s and the mother’s roles in the family, or for the preservation of those views.
Within the frames of this article, I analyse the central categories of Thomas Aquinas's social thought, such as a people (populus), multitude (multitudo), Commonwealth (respublica). The next article (Part 2) will contain an investigation of the categories of a community (communitas), communication and society (societas).
I stress the severe readiness of the question in the existing Thomistic literature. Despite the active investigations of the Aquinas's political theory, the social one remains almost forgotten. The works of Ignatius Th. Eschmann, Yves Congar and Jeremy Catto represent some exclusion from this assertion, but no one of them paid enough attention to the terminological peculiarities of the Thomistic thought. Between the main results of this work, it's worth to mark the next: the dissipation of the people's concept, its equalisation with the multitude, the break of the connection between the notions of a people and a Commonwealth. The populus in Thomas's theory loses its political nature ascribed to it by Cicero and Augustin. Having lost its subjectivity, the people converts into the organised multitude united by the common territory and the same mode of every-day life. Aquinas ignores the creation of the Commonwealth by the people and establishes between these concepts a connection of another type. According to him, the people is a kind of Aristotelian "materia", while the Commonwealth is the "form". In compliance with the precedent assertion, the Respublica becomes an eternal and unchangeable, where only the content - i.e., the people or the multitude - can change. In effect, Aquinas formulates here the concept of the proto-State.
This article explores sexuality and intimacy in a women’s penal colony in Russia. Russian researchers rarely focus on the Russian prison system as a whole, or on women’s experiences in colonies, female identities, and punishment practices in particular. These topics therefore remain marginalized, out of the spotlight of critical public debate and sociological research. The present article contributes to the current debate on the meaning and consequences of close relations in women’s colonies, varying in context from friendship and love to exploitation under the tough control of the gender regime from both the prison administration and the informal system of power typical of a prison hierarchy. The female body becomes an additional mechanism of supporting the repressive nature of a penal colony, strengthening patriarchal traditions, and maintaining a high level of homophobia in Russian society as a whole. Based on the analysis of 33 in-depth interviews including biographical elements with women between 18 and 55 years old convicted for various crimes, I argue that the gender regime in correctional facilities for women becomes an additional mechanism aimed at strengthening discipline, control, and the patriarchy in a patriarchal society. Whilst the regime is not prescribed by law, it becomes the law because of the extreme objectification of women, the female body, and the status of the female.
Hannah Arendt is one of the most vigorous advocates of public politics and agonistic debate
among contemporary political philosophers. Because of our essential plurality, humans
can access and preserve their common world “only to the extent that many people can talk
about it and exchange their opinions and perspectives with one another, over against one
However, Arendt’s position is challenged by the recent transformations of democracy
which are making us reconsider the limits of political discussion. With both traditional and
new media undergoing a radical transformation, it is becoming increasingly common to deny
political opponents the moral right to justify their position in public debate. This pattern can
be observed across the political spectrum and also across borders: in some places in the world
many refuse to debate with the rising extreme right, while in other places it is the liberals
who are considered traitors and therefore excluded from public discussion. The outcome is a
remarkable fragmentation of the public sphere and the coexistence of communities holding
incompatible views of reality.
Arendt’s thought is a promising point to access the problem of who can and who cannot
be admitted to the public forum. While arguing for the cultivation of plurality as a political virtue,
she nevertheless calls for responsible politics which implies protecting the public sphere.
Arendt is no less famous for noticing the intrinsic link between freedom and lying in politics
than for her alarming analyses of totalitarianism. How can these positions be reconciled and/
or synthesized in an age of ‘alternative facts’, ‘post-truths’ and the threatening encapsulation
of people within their echo chambers?
Arendt’s own positions have been criticized many times for going beyond the admissible,
from her nuanced reflection on the Holocaust to alleged contamination by Nazi philosophy.
The lessons from Arendt’s controversial biography for present-day politics are still to be drawn.
The Russian Sociological Review invites submissions focusing on how Arendt’s political
concepts can be used to establish justified limits for public discussion and promoting public
politics today. How can politics benefit from conflict and control it? Are there any positions
and ideologies to be disqualified from public debate? In what ways are individuals responsible
for upholding pluralism? How should the public sphere accommodate new types of political
lies? How can Arendt’s vision of the political be mobilized to answer the political challenges
of the present day?
The present paper is dedicated to the phenomenon of public sphere which is currently undergoing significant transformations under the influence of the Internet and social media. The main goal of the article is to find a new approach to the modern development of public sphere, rethinking it from an Arendtian perspective. The first part examines the main actual changes taking place in public sphere under the influence of social media and concludes that the classical concept of public sphere, dating back to its early notion of Jürgen Habermas, needs to be rethought, and requires a new approach which would take into account actual changes and new circumstances in the development of public sphere. As one of the sources of this new approach, it is proposed to use Arendt‘s understanding of public sphere which in many ways remains relevant even today. The second part examines the Arendt’s notion of public sphere, compared with the concept of public sphere of the early Habermasian writing. As a result of this consideration, it is concluded that, in a number of points, Arendt’s notion of public sphere is better suited to an understanding of the modern public sphere than the classical Habermasian concept. In the third part, I rethink the existing trends in the development of the digital public sphere from Arendt’s standpoint.The present paper is dedicated to the phenomenon of public sphere which is currently undergoing significant transformations under the influence of the Internet and social media. The main goal of the article is to find a new approach to the modern development of public sphere, rethinking it from an Arendtian perspective. The first part examines the main actual changes taking place in public sphere under the influence of social media and concludes that the classical concept of public sphere, dating back to its early notion of Jürgen Habermas, needs to be rethought, and requires a new approach which would take into account actual changes and new circumstances in the development of public sphere. As one of the sources of this new approach, it is proposed to use Arendt‘s understanding of public sphere which in many ways remains relevant even today. The second part examines the Arendt’s notion of public sphere, compared with the concept of public sphere of the early Habermasian writing. As a result of this consideration, it is concluded that, in a number of points, Arendt’s notion of public sphere is better suited to an understanding of the modern public sphere than the classical Habermasian concept. In the third part, I rethink the existing trends in the development of the digital public sphere from Arendt’s standpoint.
This article deals with the critique of Just War Theory (JWT) which appeared in the works of Carl Schmitt. JWT was revived in the middle of 1900s and was treated as an absolutely secular direction for military ethics. However, being Christian in its origin JWT retained a certain religious reasoning. This call for political morality could be compared to an appeal to divine law, but outside of the Christian context it loses its validity and weight. These features of JWT were noticed by Schmitt who offered the concept of bracketed warfare instead. The bracketing of war was an essential component of jus publicum Europaeum and it presupposed the recognition of an enemy as equal. Bracketed war was defined in political and legal terms and did not presuppose moral or religious evaluation of armed conflicts. In the 20th century bracketing of war was replaced with discrimination of war as morally and legally unacceptable act. JWT served as a theoretical foundation for this change. Though it is the prerogative of JWT to prove itself as an attempt at humanism, the invasion of morality into politics, from Schmitt’s perspective dehumanizes the enemy and increases the totality of a conflict. Schmitt insisted on purifying the political sphere from all moral constituents in order to make it more balanced. A mere political approach to war made Schmitt’s theory of bracketed war more humane and reasonable than JWT.
It may seem that the concept of marginality has already been thoroughly studied and sometimes even considered as a useless . I construct and use the nexus of space, time and movement to account for the analytical capacities of this concept. The article covers mainly the spatial aspects of marginality and its connotations. I outline two main approaches to the ideal type of the “marginal man” in the paper: 1) the spatial-functional approach (traced back to Simmel’s notion of Stranger), which focuses on the essential functions of Stranger for a group border, and 2) “formal”— making approach to multiple borders (and particularly shifting ones) that shape “marginal’s” identification as placed in-between borders and challenge the orderliness of bordered space. The central task of the marginality research is not to classify different “strangers” and “marginals”, or to describe their conditions, self-identities, and psychological controversies, but to depict social processes responsible for “marginalization”, exclusion, and enabling liminal positions. In this article I argue that the analytical vista of the “marginality” concept can be extended beyond the individual/personal framework and include social institutions (in the example of citizenship)
Book Review: Negro Pavón D. (2014). Il Dio mortale: il Mito dello Stato tra Crisi Europea e Crisi della Politica. Roma: Il Foglio. 109 p. ISBN 978-88-7606-532-3
Book Review: Villacañas Berlanga J. L. (2016). Teología Política Imperial y Comunidad de Salvación Cristiana: una Genealogía de la División de Poderes. Madrid: Trotta.
Today we cannot but notice the sequence of the considerable changes in the present-day social and cultural order through the obvious process of its invasion by certain semiotic constructs, possibly described as political myths, and nearly all of them closely connected with the issue of past/present/future glory. This glory could be lost (e.g., the col-lapse of the USSR), or gained anew (e.g., the joining of Crimea in 2014). The concepts of glory and victory in Russian political discourse are bound up with each other so closely that it is difficult to divide them. Besides, glory and victory are being gradually possessed by the establishment. At the same time, political myths are the means and the aim of this process. Myth comes forward as a universal code, and moreover, as a universal social-cultural matrix which contains patterns of ethics that are to be installed into the society. Besides, myth is a structure based upon the category of shap-ing the reality in which people may believe, not the category of belief. In the sphere of the media, myth broadcasts itself mainly through memes, using them both as instruments and as a certain communication channel. The structure of a meme is semiotic, while there is still a communicative difference between a meme and a myth. The idea of political glory is closely connected with the sphere of myth and with the concepts of time and space. This kind of integration makes up what Bakhtin called a “chronotope.”
The paper compares opposite approaches to the study of spatial order in contemporary societies. On the one hand, theories of globalization and world society argue that states and their borders are not relevant anymore. Globalization means world without borders, therefore contemporary global cities, being located within state borders, do not belong to their territories. In a global city, there is no room for common solidarity among citizens—those who go beyond state borders cannot become integrated to world society. On the other hand, there is much empirical evidence that states do not disappear. They still play a significant role. The state border deliniates a part of space which people can feel emotional attachment with. The states can use legitimate violence against those who reside within its borders as well as enforce feelings of solidarity with those who live on this territory. This logic brings two notions of nation and nationalism. In a more traditional understanding of these notions based on kinship (“consanguinity”), culture and language, the state is defined as a tool for the constitution of nation, which needs territory with clear borders for survival. In contrast, the civic understanding of nation suggests flexibility of any identities, including the national one. Those who follow the second definition usually do not recognize its implications. On the one hand, a territorially located group can demand statehood to assert and guarantee its identity. On the other hand, a group, which has freely chosen its identity, also can demand spatial borders and, in the same vein, a state. These demands are connected with each other. Spatial definition of any group, which can proclaim itself as a nation and demand a state, contradicts contemporary organization of global cities. In this respect, sociology may be interested in how these two modes of space intersect, i.e. how the world society with its fluids and networks interacts with new states, being constituted within new borders.
A review on book: Jenkins R. (2014) Black Magic and Bogeymen Fear, Rumour and Popular Belief in the North of Ireland 1972–74. Cork: Cork University Press. 306 p. ISBN 9781782050964
The review contains a brief description of each of the 12 chapters, the overall positive assessment and an indication of the sense in which the book can be considered a model of academic research.
Sansi R. (2015). Art, Anthropology and the Gift. London: Bloomsbury. 188 p. ISBN 978-0-85785-535-0