A Friendly Reminder

4:20

All my articles from 1st July are set to be posted at 4:20 GMT.

I want to write dope texts, so that timing may be quite right.


[Conspect] – Sociology and War: A Science Divided

This is my conspect. It is not a transcription (unless I make a quote). It is a summary of some material as I understood it. If you find any part of it interesting — get the source material and corroborate to be 100% sure.

YT: Sociology and War: A Science Divided [RU]

The period since the beginning of the Russian invasion into Ukraine has been marked by quick severing of the ties with ‘the west’ and thus by disintegration of the processes of modernisation of the social sicences in Russia.

It is no longer possible to continue importing the adequate science into Russia, building scientific schools, preparing articles for the top-notch sicentific magazines if one's country in waging a war and [forcibly] intercepts any cooperation with the very global scientific world, into which the scientists have been integrating: successfully and deeply.
Boris Grozovski

Russian academia follows Russian media in terms of being subject to state censorship and repressions. So, the theme of the talk is the strategies the Russian social scientists (might) use within and outside of Russia.

Question 1: Those Who Stayed. What Do They do? What Do They Have to Do?

Boris Grozovski :

flowchart LR id00{{"Main Strategies"}} id00 --> id01("Mimicry") id00 --> id02("An Ivory Tower")

Victor Wachstein :

  1. The situation with the universities is difficult but not catastrophic. Universities are not only importing science, so they are not destroyed completely.
  2. There has been no institutional collapse in social sciences, at least a collapse similar to one in totalitarian regimes of the XX centuries.
  3. Social scientists in Russia have gone non-public, but continue their work.

Boris Grozovski :

Though the social sciences have not collapsed, the institutional pressure on the scientists is increasing. Is it just inertia?

Victor Wachstein :

The pressure is not absolute: the censorship does not affect foreign language publications. Elimination of institutional autonomy does not imply elimination of the institutional sovereignty. Cf. the totalitarian regimes and the ‘underground science’ and the testimonies of Viktor Klemperer (LTI [Amazon]).

Boris Grozovski :

How actual is the experience of the scientific community of the late-USSR?

Victor Wachstein :

It is possible, but it is hard to tell to which degree it can and will be reproduced. This is not a mass strategy. In addition to that, Ivory Towers may be suddenly attacked.

Boris Grozovski :

What then is the gradient of the sociological research in Russia?

Victor Wachstein :

The question is incorrect, since it implies a historical analogy with the late USSR. Individual point of view: People tend to stick to their themes. Foreign language publications are the safety valve: they are not censored.

Question from a Chat: What are the Main Structural Biases of sociological studies under Dictatorships?

Victor Wachstein :

The current publicly available Russian quantitative research fundamentally untrustworthy. Pollstering and quantitative sociology are thwarted by the military censorship.

  • Questions Formulations
  • Usage of Adjusting Coefficients
  • The tendency of population to provide more expected answers under the military censorship first found by Hadley Cantril.

All these methodological factors allow for manipulation on a very large scale. So, even if the researchers are honest, the probability of their getting the real picture are fairly low. Add the political incentivisation: polls have become a tool of political technology and polemics. The ‘silent majority’ discourse looks constructed.

Question 2: Strategies of Those Who've Left

Boris Grozovski :

flowchart LR id00{{"Main Strategies"}} id00 --> id01("Integration into the New Country's Academia") id00 --> id02["Reproduction of Russian Projects and Institutions"]

Victor Wachstein :

The difference is rather individual vs. collective adaptation strategies. Thus, these strategies are not mutually exclusive in practice. Institutional strategies are, however, absent: no analogies to the Frankfurt School moving to America.

In the long term, the expat academic institutions fall on a spectrum between the Frankfurt School and the Russian Scientific Institute (Berlin):

  • The former was very well institutionally organised and fruitful for the social science. But the return to Germany was not very impressive. Their general approach was: ‘We preserve Germany in Exile’.

  • The latter was a politically charged and organised institution. Their general approach was: ‘We build the proper version of Russia’. It ended poorly through cooptation by Nazi authorities.

It is hard to tell which approach will prevail and to which degree of success.

Also on the impact of the Frankfurt School on the American Life - reference to and short summary of Exile and Emigration by Wolf Lepenies.

Question 3: The Situation of the Russian-International Split

Boris Grozovski :

In current situation, those who work in the Social Sciences in Russia are nudged to servicing the government. Do they have common themes for speaking with those who left or specialised on international publishing?

Victor Wachstein :

Political and Academical perception of the changes caused by war is very divergent. The public sphere went into the state of ‘bellum omnium contra omnes’, while the academic world showed some institutional cohesion through evacuation and helping with relocation.