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Berliner Journal für Soziologie
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Last updated Mai. 29, 2007

Archive



Contents - Issue 3/2005



CURRENT RUSSIAN SOCIOLOGY

Frank Ettrich
Editorial    

Alexander Bikbov
Contested Autonomy. On the Situation of Sociology in Today's Russia    
          Abstract

Anton N. Olejnik
Prison and Society. The Institutional Congruency between Prison Culture and Russian Economy and Society    
          Abstract

Michail Sokolov
The Cult of the Security Services in Russia    
          Abstract

Sergej Uschakin
Persuasion by Numbers. Style and Consumption in the New Russia in Times of Symbolic Deficit
          Abstract

Stefan Troebst
Jalta vs. Stalingrad, GULag vs. Holocaust. Conflicting Cultures of Remembrance in the Wider Europe    
          Abstract

Hans-Jörg Trenz
The Cinema as a Symbolic Form of World Society    
          Abstract

Sighard Neckel
Emotion by Design. The Self-management of Emotions as a Cultural Program    
          Abstract










Abstracts Issue 3/2005


 

Berliner Journal für Soziologie Vol. 15 (3)

Alexander Bikbov
Contested Autonomy. On the Situation of Sociology in Today's Russia
The autonomy of sociology as a science is not simply a question of freedom or liberation from political restrictions in teaching and research. Neither can it be reduced to the problem of its unrestricted organizational establishment. At least as important is the development of scientific classifications without which the epistemological breach between non-scientific and scientific discourse could not be sustained. Based on the French tradition in the sociology of knowledge and of science from Durkheim to Bourdieu, this analysis seeks to establish if and to what degree current Russian sociology in its understandings of its applications, objects and methods could liberate itself from the guidelines and structures set forth by the purely political-administrative institutionalization of the field in the Soviet union of the 1960s. The analysis of the disciplinary field considers administratively prominent representatives and their (institutionalized) theoretical-methodological positions which shape the textbook canon up to the present day. For the Soviet/Russian sociology from the 1960s to the 1990s and notwithstanding the serious historical and political changes, the findings suggest a very high degree of personnel and disciplinary continuity. The translation of political differentiations into sociological categorizations is still dominant and represents the "common sense" of the discipline. Thus, post-soviet sociology remains characterized by an incomplete professionalization.
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Berliner Journal für Soziologie Vol. 15 (3)

Anton N. Olejnik
Prison and Society. The Institutional Congruency between Prison Culture and Russian Economy and Society
This essay advances the thesis of an apparent congruence of norms, collective representations and behavioral dispositions in Soviet and post-Soviet prisons ("small society") on the one hand and important segments of Russian society ("big society") on the other. The author develops his arguments in reference to various theoretical debates and broadly follows an "institutions-as-norms approach." In order to confirm the thesis of an institutional congruence of prison culture and a "prison sub-culture" in the wider society, particularly in the economic sphere, the author discusses widespread phenomena such as the insufficient differentiation of spheres of action, the personification of social relationships, a normative dualism, and the lack of a sufficient control of violence by the state. Prisons as well as society as a whole are socially structured by a central inclusion-exclusion mechanism of splitting the social world in "our people" and "the alien others," a particularistic logic of dichotomy. The interview segments quoted as evidential source material are taken from empirical research projects undertaken in the late 1990s.
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Berliner Journal für Soziologie Vol. 15 (3)

Michail Sokolov
The Cult of the Security Services in Russia
Particular by international comparison, the security services in today's Russia enjoy a high degree of adoration. Be it pop music, the popular fantasy literature, movies or public opinion surveys, all indicate that the security services are endowed with institutional charisma (Edward Shils). Common explanations of this phenomenon point to an alleged continuity to Soviet times, the effectiveness of the security services or manipulations of an all too seducible public. However, they seem only partially convincing, if at all. This essay presents an alternative explanation, taking the temporary break-up of state power in the first half of the 1990s as a starting point. For most people in Russia, the experience of the partial loss of the state's monopoly of violence and the simultaneous rise in crime were an existential shock, expressed by a wide-spread sense of the potential fragility of all social order. In this situation, it is precisely the ambiguity of the secret services, publicly demonstrating their spotlessness while at the same time through their secret operations hinting at a second, more violent and cruel truth, which fascinates and makes them the bearer of hope for a stable social order.
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Berliner Journal für Soziologie Vol. 15 (3)

Sergej Uschakin
Persuasion by Numbers. Style and Consumption in the New Russia in Times of Symbolic Deficit
This article presents findings from an empirical study asking adolescents and young adults about their images of the lifestyle of so-called "new Russians." The analysis is based on an individualistic approach within the sociology of consumption, inspired by the works of Simmel and Bourdieu. The expressive-public consumption pattern that respondents associated with the "new Russians" proved to be a highly genderized behavior primarily attributed to men. However, the predictability and constant repetition of the forms and assortment of this imagined consumption were quite surprising. Aside from cultural predispositions and habits retained from Soviet times, this seems quite to be the mark of a culture characterized by a deficit in symbolic means of expression. If there is a limited variety of status symbols, the emphasis on quantitative instead of qualitative attributes of consumption seems a way to express anything of a distinction at all. Not subtlety but persuasion by (large) numbers is what makes the difference in post-Soviet Russia.
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Berliner Journal für Soziologie Vol. 15 (3)

Stefan Troebst
Jalta vs. Stalingrad, GULag vs. Holocaust. Conflicting Cultures of Remembrance in the Wider Europe
While Soviet rule was the vehicle of communist ideology in all of Eastern and Central Europe, from the thaw of 1956 on religious, imperial, national, ethno-cultural and regional traditions considerably transformed it in the Warsaw Pact countries as well as in the westernmost Soviet republics. In the post-1989 period, these pre-communist and communist variations are particularly obvious when looking at attempts to come to terms with the communist past. Four categories of post-communist cultures of remembrance can be identified in Eastern and Central Europe: (1) Societies characterized by a general consent concerning an "alien" communist rule forced upon from the outside – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania being prominent examples; (2) cases where such a consent does not exists and where fierce political controversies over the interpretation of the dictatorial past take place – as in Hungary and Poland, but also in Ukraine; (3) societies dominated by an apathic ambivalence towards the communist past –Bulgaria, Romania and other Balkan countries belonging into this category; and (4) states with a continuity of authoritarian structures as well as without a clear dissociation from communist rule?like the Russian Federation, Belarus', Moldova and other CIS republics.
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Berliner Journal für Soziologie Vol. 15 (3)

Hans-Jörg Trenz
The Cinema as a Symbolic Form of World Society
Cinematic means of expression can be distinguished from cultural representations of traditional societies by three elements: de-contextualisation, technical reproduction and mass consumption. In the evolution of cinema this has lead to the decoupling of the conditions for film production, distribution and consumptions from the cultural and political spaces of the nation state. This essay reconstructs and discusses these analytical insights of a sociology of cinema, originating in the early works of Kracauer and Benjamin, relating them to the contemporary horizon of "world society." As will be claimed, a sociology of cinema can offer insights and hypotheses about how a shared "world culture" is built as an institutionalized space beyond the diversity of individual cultures, fostering the exchange and synthesis of meaning in a global context.
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Berliner Journal für Soziologie Vol. 15 (3)

Sighard Neckel
Emotion by Design. The Self-management of Emotions as a Cultural Program

In sociological theory, the social process of regulating emotions has been described in terms of self-constraints and rationalization. In contrast, the loosening of emotional discipline in the 20th century represented itself as "informalization" of feeling rules. Present programs of emotional self-management, however, to be found in current concepts of work and business, as well as of consultation, training and therapy, point to the fact that the contrast of disciplining and informalization is blurring. In the wake of a market society, which seeks its economic yardsticks in personal efficiency as well as financial success, and which is culturally accompanied by processes of "subjectivation," programs of self-management dedicated primarily to the cognitive triggering and strategic use of emotions are on the rise. But feelings are not just the object of subjective and social control. Rather, modern self-management aims at the "optimization" of emotional experience and performance, for which Daniel Goleman's popular concept of "Emotional Intelligence" is exemplary. Curiously, such programs of a modern emotionalizing in society and economics have the paradoxical effect of leading precisely to the "affective neutrality" they stood up against in the first place.
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