Cultural sociology must catch up in taking seriously recent initiatives in the sociology of culture and cognition, represented by the works of Omar Lizardo, John Levi Martin, Stephen Vaisey, and others. However, aiming at progress in cultural analysis, these theories are partly driven by an epistemic logic alien to cultural theorizing, making the very concept of culture redundant. To identify this anti-cultural strain within the ongoing cognitive turn in sociology, I propose an ideal-typical model—‘the informational theory of communication,’ which reduces culture to information. Although many cognitive scientists and sociologists of culture and cognition are aware of the limitations and counter-productivity of this model, and it might not exist in a pure form, I argue that, first, it is still clearly traceable in many of their arguments, and, second, that it can be seen as a cultural logic underlying a substantial part of their arguments. I posit that replacing this logic of explanation with the Durkheimian model of sui generis synthesis, the concept of emergence, and the idea of ‘boundary conditions’ not only allows us to integrate the insights of cognitive science into sociology, but also opens a way for sociology to contribute to the cognitive sciences.
Review: Alfred Smudits (ed.), Roads to Music Sociology (Wiesbaden: Springer, 2019).
Book review on Smudits A. (ed.) (2019) Roads to Music Sociology. Wiesbaden: Springer. 158 p. isbn 978-3-658- 22278-9
This is my short reply to Adonis Frangeskou’s response to my review of his book (2017). I offer a careful reading of the passage from Levinas quoted in Frangeskou’s response. I discuss the idea of God-in-me in connection with the issues of sensibility, vulnerability, and suffering. I argue that interpreting Levinas within the framework of the analytics of the sublime is crucially important for the catastrophic dimension of Levinas’ approach to subjectivity.
Despite the fact that culture, aesthetics, and art were some of the main concerns of early classical sociology (e.g., Simmel’s essays are probably the most popular reference in this regard), later culture has become a matter of interest of a sub-discipline, that of the sociology of culture. The end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries brought a radical transformation of sociological understanding of culture, and it was Jeffrey Alexander who revived the notion and proposed a new understanding of sociological theory drawn on this notion. According to Alexander, culture should be treated as an autonomous realm being able to act and contribute to the social order. In (re)turning to this understanding, Alexander draws upon a variety of now-classical theories, but mainly on Durkheim’s theory of religion as explicated in The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Clifford Geertz and his idea of thick description is one of the sources for the renewed cultural sociology. In Art as a Cultural System (1976), he wrote that “to study an art form is to explore a sensibility” and “such a sensibility is essentially a collective formation, and that the foundations of such a formation are as wide as social existence and as deep”. The special issue of the RSR is dedicated to empirical and theoretical discussion of how art can serve as a source of sociological imagination.
The editorial introduction outlines the theoretical framework of the special issue by indicating main ideas that shape the research agenda. Alexander Filippov and Nail Farkhatdinov provide the grounds for the cultural sociological understanding of the arts and literature in relation to the problems of sociological knowledge. The editorial is completed with the overview of the contributions.
It is sociologically significant that the pandemic showed a widespread crisis of the legal system, and at the same time, changes in the concepts of normal and emergency situations. The system of international law was not ready for a pandemic, although what was happening was global. Along with the crisis of international law, the universal criteria of legality disappeared. It is the legality of many measures in various countries that can be called into question, albeit some of them were nearer to the ideal of procedural purity than other.
The authors systematize the scientific legacy of Teodor Shanin in a brief review of three groups of the key, scientific works of this outstanding Israeli-British sociologist (10.29.1930–02.04.2020). This summary emphasizes Shanin's amazing ability to create original explanatory models for social sciences. His diverse and multifaceted intellectual legacy can be divided into three main genres: monographs, anthologies/textbooks, and essays. Shanin was the head of major research projects and the author of editorial prefaces and articles on explanatory models of peasant worlds and communities, informal/expolary economies, developing countries, and Marxist theory as applied to the development of Russia.
With a major threat looming on the horizon, the need for emergency measures looks ever more obvious, while procrastinations, inevitable in the case of generally long parliamentary discussions of what measures to take, appear far less acceptable. However, the ongoing debate over the future demonstrates that the forecasts can hardly be insightful. In fact, it is too early to discuss the future. Any attempts at making predictions today might be useful only for understanding present-day realities.
The paper considers the Russian translation of the article “A Few Words on Non-Intervention” written by British political philosopher and logician John Stuart Mill, and whose article, published in 1859, transforms the criteria restricting the principle of non-interference. Thus, in the essay “On Freedom”, the rule of non-interference into private life is described, but in “A Few Words on Non-Intervention”, Mill expands the principle to the international level, taking into consideration those situations allowing for intervention. The authors highlight the features of war contemporary to Mill, and articulate his military reflection in connection with the phenomenon of national liberation movements and revolts. They analyze Mill’s question if it is legitimate for one government to somehow intervene in the affairs of another. The logic of just military intervention for Mill in the cases described opens up the possibility for the use of force, but only for the civilized States. The philosopher divides the civilized nations from barbarians, where the latter are characterized as incapable of striving for freedom and therefore needing intervention from civilized countries. In this regard, the logic of the article leads to a strategy of humanitarian war caused by rhetoric of the “responsibility to protect”. The first Russian translation of “A Few Words on Non-Intervention” is proposed as a relevant source for the philosophy of war, raising the issue of sovereignty. It is stated that modern military practice poses the question of humanitarian intervention: is it worth neglecting sovereignty if we face a “scandal to humanity”?
It has often been suggested that over ten years between “Method for the Easy Comprehension of History” and “Six Books of a Commonwealth” Jean Bodin underwent a radical transformationas a political thinker. He moved from a more moderate, even constitutionalist view of the extent of state power, founded by Roman constitutionalism, to a radical absolutist position. Here we trace how concept of ‘République’ has been changed regarding his “Method…” and “Six Books…”.
We publish an interview of Alexander Nikulin, Head of the Center for Agrarian Studies, with Teodor Shanin, President of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, who was awarded the Order of the British Empire. The interview focuses on the key issues of personal self-determination in the history of the 20th century. The interview was to focus on the work of the historian Mikhail Gefter ‘Apology of the weak man’ which the online journal Gefter wanted to publish. However, the conversation went far beyond the discussion of this work. Shanin shared his memories of how he began to study the Russian peasantry and ideas of Nikolai Bukharin and Alexander Chayanov, of his meetings with Moshe Levin, the head of the Rote Kapelle (Red Chapel) with alias Domb and many others. Shanin expressed his attitude to Stalin and Stalinism, the XX Congress of the CPSU and denunciation of the personality cult. His arguments about strength and weakness, cowardice and self-control reveal his ethical position as a historian and an active participant of the 20th century events both in the world and Russia.
The article of a well-known German social theorist Friedrich Tenbruck, which once provoked a heated debate among Weberian scholars, analyzes the works of Max Weber in terms of their thematic structure and general heuristics. The first section reconstructs the genesis and content of the idea that Economy and Society was the main work of the classic German scholar of sociology, an idea that was initially made popular among scholars by Marianne Weber. The second part is devoted to disenchantment as a fundamental process in the history of religion, the discovery of which is traditionally attributed to Weber’s famous work The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism. The third part analyzes the broad conceptual field used by Max Weber to study Western rationalization. The fourth part critically analyzes the thesis of Western rationalization as Weber’s main, life-long topic, the thesis which was originally introduced by Reinhard Bendix. In the fifth part, an attempt is made to determine the exact place of Economic Ethics of the World Religions in the overall structure of Weber’s work. In the sixth part, the processes of Western rationalization are placed within the general context of Weber’s conception of the universal history understood as a field of tension between ideas and interests. The final section emphasizes the importance of Weber’s writings on the sociology of religion, with Economic Ethics of the World Religions in particular as the core of his entire mature sociology. It also poses the question of the problematic nature of various Weberian notions for contemporary sociology, and points out the persisting validity of Weber’s sociological diagnosis of the time for the analysis of current problems in the perspective of a world-wide historical significance.
In the narrative of Game of Thrones, a fantasy television drama, well-known elements of fantasymedia products successfully blend with their new forms. These elements connect to a specific emotional regime which refers directly to the emotional cultures of contemporary societies through its pessimistic coloring. Cultural pessimism stems from the complex, problematic situations in Europe and America which shape the context in which the television drama originated, and provides a glimpse into the social and political subconsciousness of these societies. The article attempts to reveal these situations by studying the actions and motivations of the drama’s characters, as well as the dramatized means and social framework of the action. The analysis shows that Game of Thrones can be read as a form of a cultural reworking of the experiences of the social and political upheavals in European and American societies. Cultural pessimism is a recipe for the success of this serial drama, but ultimately there is little that can counteract the destructive attitudes that dominate the cultures of contemporary Western societies
The aim of this paper is to present and briefly comment on our Russian translation of the first of Phenomenological Meditations of Marc Richir (1943–2005), a key figure of the “New French Phenom- enology” (a term of Gondek and Tengelyi). Richir develops a phenomenological architectonics by dis- tinguishing between the “symbolic” and “phenomenological” layers of sense. The symbolic sense, as a sense that is already instituted or that could be instituted, is opposed to the phenomenological sense, which is a sense in formation. The sphere of the phenomenological can be reached by way of a new, more radical reduction, which Richir calls a “hyperbolic reduction.” Richir’s phenomenological project nova methodo opens up new possibilities for the transcendental phenomenology.
The essay “A Few Words on Non-intervention” by British philosopher and politician John Stuart Mill, published in Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country in December, 1859, has been translated into Russian for the first time for this issue of the Russian Sociological Review. Here, Mill justifies the foreign policy of the British Empire, and considers the criteria when the doctrine of non-intervention may be ignored in the sphere of international relations. There are three cases that make legitimate military intervention possible: (1) the overcoming of the doctrine of non-intervention when it is necessary to confront humanitarian disasters such as slavery; (2) an intervention allowing people to be given their freedom and to protect their right of selfdetermination; (3) an intervention as a tool to fight against tyranny
Book Review: Gangolf Hübinger, Max Weber: Stationen und Impulse einer intellektuellen Biographie. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019.