This article analyzes the current state of Russian sociology as a science and as a professional community, and serves as an invitation to a broader discussion. I formulate six main challenges currently facing Russian sociology: 1) the non-classical, hybrid character of modern Russian society; 2) the threat of sociology losing its critical function as a science; 3) the failure of sociology to help society understand itself and its perspectives; 4) the failure to help understand institutional shifts in academia (in the broad sense) which affect changes in the organization of science in general; 5) the need for self-reproduction and the fostering of a new generation of sociologists; and 6) the spread of anomia and adverse academic practices eroding the profession (e.g. plagiarism). I then draft some possible responses from the scientific community. Addressing the first challenge requires the development of a research paradigm explaining the possibility of the coexistence of heterogeneous settings in a single social system. The second urges the professional community to shift its focus to the issues of paramount importance for society and the profession, to reduce the dependence on public funding and to develop the ability to design flexible but long-term projects. The third requires the development of platforms for public dialogue. The fourth prompts more attention to the analysis of modern academia in the context of University 3.0 and predicting its consequences for the profession. The fifth requires the revision of the channels through which the current professional community is recruited, and the sixth invites the establishment of standardized and objective practices for working with scientific texts in sociological journals.
In the last decades of the 20th century, urban shrinkage has become an evident process in many countries with significant, long-term, and stable depopulation as its main feature. In the post-Soviet Russia, cities with a population less than 100,000 people (small and medium-sized cities – SMSC) are the most depopulating ones. In 182 of them, population loss since 1989 accounts for 25% and over. The new demographic reality, which alters the cityscape and infrastructure requirements, calls for a rethinking of urban planning. The current research is aimed at the analysis of projected spatial development in SMSC under conditions of significant depopulation to highlight the utilized strategies of long-term urban planning. Attention is also paid to how the choice of strategies may be shaped by the main actors and their coalitions. The empirical data were obtained through the analysis of 132 general plans and semi-structured interviews with the representatives of administrations, business, and the local communities in two cities – Vorkuta (Komi Republic) and Apatity (Murmansk oblast). The results of general plans’ analysis indicate that urban shrinkage with rare exceptions is ignored as a current and future reality. The key topic of urban planning lies in the creation of conditions for maximizing profits from the use of real estate and land. Vorkuta turned out to be the only city among those analyzed where the adaptation strategy is in use. There are several actors interested in such planning strategy with the formation of a coalition aimed at costs reduction. Apatity, on the contrary, is a typical case of planning for growth under conditions of shrinkage due to the lack of interested actors, as well as a deep misunderstanding of shrinkage’s complexity and consequences.