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Culture of New Mobility Within the Space of Things and Events-2009

HeadFilippov, Alexander F.

Department: Centre for Fundamental Sociology

The key problem of social life is the problem of solidarity as an ontological foundation of the social, which is likely to escalate in the near future throughout the world. It becomes especially evident amid a crisis that was seen during the year when the research was conducted.

The research is to a great extent a pilot project, representing the first attempts to develop a new major theoretical strategy. In its theoretical aspect, the research managed to bring together for the first time several major promising approaches, outlining the possibilities for a major sociological synthesis. It marks the return of the key research topic – solidarity - to the realm of sociologists. Currently, in the research of social life, we should start from the fact that it is not some social problem that comes to the foreground, but rather the very sociality substratum that is questioned. In sociology this is the definition of the solidarity problem.

In the context of the research, the problem setting is unique. We didn’t base our research on people’s solidarity nor the special organization of the institute, nor generally accepted norms and values or general interests shared by rational and well-informed citizens. We proceeded from the fact that solidarity is a situational phenomenon, displayed at the level of social event organization rather than at the motivation level. Studying solidarity problems is researching the figuration of social events.

As part of this, we have reconsidered problems of space and mobility. Solidarity has traditionally correlated with the state’s locus and its boundaries. Without a theoretical abandoning of this tradition, it is impossible to move on. Further development is possible only in the course of a powerful route, one of the main threads in modern sociology – mobility sociology. This area has a lengthy history, large potential and major affectations. But are they justified? One of the central problems of this research was a strategy of a preliminary inventory survey of theoretical resources and a test of their applicability for the analysis of relevant social problems.

In the course of the study, it was determined that many of the claims in mobility theory are groundless. However this theory permits us to repurpose research strategy and tactics.

A critical approach to theoretical resources allowed us to focus on the areas of research that promise actual result in terms of setting long-term prospects and the most efficient strategies.

First and foremost, it means the development of traditional forms of mobility and a culture of new mobility. The study showed that traditional forms of mobility, despite the crisis, are undergoing substantial changes. The world around us is becoming more mobile, movements are becoming more numerous and diverse. However, old forms of mobility are supplemented by new ones, related to the use of new forms of communication, information acquisition and navigation. New mobility transforms the major forms of world perception and practice, namely space and time. New hybrid forms of mobility are gradually becoming common practice, the very culture of every-day lives.

It is due to these postulates that the question of solidarity was set in the context of applied research. New solidarity may actually be found in separate areas of social life, directly related to mobility. Solidarity actually emerges as situational solidarity, whereas the space and time of modern Moscow citizen are structured, based inter alia on the ability to directly use means of mobile communication, to travel by car and, last but not least, the ability to choose strategies that would facilitate the fastest contact whether it is movement in traditional meaning or mobile communication of any type.

These ideas offer a challenge to any further research that we move towards. These prospects are related to studying new forms of mobile solidarities and the process of their formation, cultural models that institutionalize these solidarities, new types of social identity and identification based on mobile solidarities.


 

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