The interdisciplinary origins of the sociological metatheorizing and reasons for a surge in its popularity in 1970s –1990s are discussed in order to describe the passage to a current state of metatheory in sociology. The relationships of different types of meta-theoretical investigations with substantive unit theories as well as with an adjacent field of philosophy of social sciences are exemplified using some “hard problems” relating to sociological theories of actions and normativity. The current state of this problem in sociology is described in the article as a movement from the once initial state of striving for conceptual codification and standardization of the complex of sociological theories to their deconstruction and decentration – and back. The author believes this phenomenon may equally be subject of interest for theoretical sociology and philosophy of social sciences.
The article deals with the analysis of foster parents discursive practices of making family. The approach to family as a discourse is used for the theoretical conceptualization of parental narratives about fostering. Foster parenthood is understood as a discursive construction, which contains normative beliefs about fostering, motives of decision about fostering, and descriptions of foster care practices. The empirical base of the research consists of texts of 469 diaries of foster parents, collected in frame of the all-Russian competition of foster families diaries “Our stories” (Elena & Gennagy Timchenko Foundation, 2015–2017). The biographical narratives were analyzed in two levels: 1) normative commonly shared beliefs about family and fostering; 2) individual strategies of narrative identity construction. As the result of analysis three main meaningful elements of parental individual narratives were found: 1) discourses about what is foster parenting; 2) justification strategies of decisions about foster parenting; 3) descriptions of making family practices. The general outcome of the article is the conclusion that making family is performed on the level of individual believes about what family and parenting are. The specific history of family relations and interactions between family members influences the making family process. All these individual discursive practices are inscribed in a broad socio-cultural context of normative beliefs.
Last few years were marked by growing civic activities in Russia (aid to victims of fires and floods, peaceful demonstrations and protests), including emergence of a very massive movement of domestic election observers. Hundreds of thousands of Russians across the country started to participate in election observation beginning from federal elections, 2011– 2012. In this context, tree main questions are relevant. How has this movement emerged and developed? What is the qualitative composition of its participants? How socially significat is the movement in terms of its impact on the development of civil society and democracy? Mixed method research was used: qualitative research (7 in-depth interviews), and a quantitative survey (N=1506) conducted online. Results of the study show that despite the fact that people’s participation in election observation was massive, this activity was not chaotic. Process of involving citizens in election observation was based on well-built system, coordinated by new organizations. They distribute videos aimed at attracting citizens to become election observers; train in election legislation; develop and distribute manuals, handbooks and “road maps”; organize “mobile groups”, hot lines, and parallel vote tabulation. Qualitative composition of domestic election observers feature educated people under 45 with relatively high level of material welfare, not members or supporters of parliamentary parties. Moreover, election observers are actively involved in NGOs as well as in volunteering and donations. Activities of domestic election observers in Russia for the last two years enhance development of civic skills and increase levels of legal awareness thus contributing to empowering Russian civil society and democracy.