“Human Resources” as a Category of Qualitative Sociology

“Human Resources” as a Category of Qualitative Sociology

Ilyin V.I.

Dr. Sci. (Soc.), Professor, Department of Sociology of Culture and Сommunication, Saint-Petersburg State University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia ivi‑2002@yandex.ru

ID of the Article: 9536

The article was written as a part of a study supported by a grant of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) No. 19-29-07559.

For citation:

Ilyin V.I. “Human Resources” as a Category of Qualitative Sociology. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2023. No 3. P. 32-41


The purpose of this article is to adapt the categories of human resources and capital in relation to the logic of qualitative sociology, which turns to existential everyday life. The starting point of the analysis in it is a person striving for his social self-realization in the context of available objective opportunities that have the form of chances: they can be used or missed in different ways. The situation of choice includes both an objective component and the subjectivity of the acting individual (conscious needs and interests, tastes, value orientations, moods, feelings, volitional characteristics, etc.). As a result, different individuals use the same human resources (chances) in different ways. The subject of the study shifts from the classic question “Who has what?” to the process of turning abstract possibilities into the reality of an individual social situation. Incorporated resources are a continuum, each element of which can become a reality as a result of choice (including imposed) and achievement: (1) abstract potential, the implementation of which depends on a variety of conditions; (2) consumer human resources; (3) labor force; (4) human capital as a resource that creates surplus value in the course of market turnover. In some cases, the resource is sold as labor, and the created surplus product is appropriated by the employer. In others, the individual acts as an entrepreneur, independently bringing his incorporated resources to the market and appropriating the resulting surplus value. Human resources represent only the chances of acquiring one or another real form. The metamorphoses of human resources occur to a significant extent in the context of the market situation. Its main elements are (1) individual potential, (2) availability of vacant jobs, (3) agency of a potential employee and employer, (4) definition of the market situation by its participants.

human capital; labor force; market situation; subjectivity; existential situation; qualitative sociology


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