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After Communism

Critical Perspectives on Society and Sociology

Carol Harrington, Ayman Salem and Tamara Zurabishvili

Freed from direct political constraints, many sociologists from former Communist countries have sought to maintain a clear distinction between research and politics through an attachment to objectivity, conceptual clarity and methodological rigour. Yet they have often sidestepped the critique of epistemological certainties which has become orthodoxy in much ‘Western’ thinking, and which has implicated sociology in the very structures of power it describes. This collection of writings, based on the 2002 Critical Sociology Conference held at Tbilisi State University in Georgia, was produced by sociologists working as members of or visitors to post-Communist states. As such, it reflects the tension between the desire for scholarly distance and an acknowledgement that the construction of knowledge is always a political act and a product of hierarchical social relations. Whether considering the issue of political legitimacy in Kyrgyzstan, the political nature of discourse about Eastern Europe, or problems of institutionalisation in Georgia, the authors all seek to avoid the scepticism about the effects and ethics of sociology common in much Western social theory without falling back upon the positivist approaches apparent in much of the former Communist bloc and in important pockets of Western academia.
Contents: Carol Harrington/Ayman Salem: Introduction – Eduard Kodua: Notes on the function of sociology – Salome Asatiani: On one version of hegemonic strategy: a Gramscian insight into John Rawls’s thought – Ayman Salem: Aspects of Talcott Parsons’s sociology – Attila Melegh: Floating East: Eastern Europe on the map of global institutional actors – Carol Harrington: Prostitutes and peacekeepers in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo – Iago Kachkachishvili: Anthony Giddens’s structuration theory and some pecularities of Georgian society – Tatiana Yarkova: Applying the concepts of legitimacy and trust in Kyrgyzstan – Donnacha Ó Beacháin: Power without passion: the institutionalisation and de-radicalisation of political parties – Ivan Chorvát: Sociology between order and chaos – Markus Mueller: Can empirical research produce critical results? The case of urban sociology – Balihar Sanghera: After the cultural turn, a return to the moral economy – Lynne Alice: Kosovo in transition: an insider-outsider doing social research on Kosovo’s present and future – Ayman Salem: Advertising First World culture: civic education in the former Communist bloc – Ingrida Geciene: Democracy and the middle class: Western theoretical models in a post-Communist context – Sarah Amsler: ‘From truth in strength to strength in truth’: the reconstitution of power/knowledge in post-Soviet Central Asia sociology.