Sociological Theory: Challenges and Opportunities for Russian Sociology

Sociological Theory:
Challenges and Opportunities for Russian Sociology

Sorokin P.S.

Sci. (Sociol.), Leading Researcher, Head of the Laboratory for Human Capital and Education Research, Institute of Education, HSE University, Moscow, Russia

ID of the Article:

The article was funded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, grant No. 075-15-2020-928.

For citation:

Sorokin P.S. Sociological Theory: Challenges and Opportunities for Russian Sociology. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2021. No 11. P. 12-23


The article discusses the state and prospects for the development of contemporary sociological theory. The current crisis is associated with the processes of “destructuration”, which bring to the fore the problem of “(transformative) agency”, which has not yet received adequate elaboration in social knowledge. Sociology, in comparison with other sciences, may play a leading role in the scholarly development of this problem. However, in order to fulfil its potential, sociology requires a significant revision of several common theoretical postulates related to the problem of “structure/ agency”. First, it is necessary to revise the thesis concerning the “secondary nature” of “action” in relation to “structure”. Second, develop a theoretical picture of the world that combines the idea of the relative, albeit declining, stability of social formations with the thesis of the real transformational potential of “agency”, which is empirically expressed in the emergence of new and changing existing social forms. Thirdly, it is necessary to develop theoretical approaches to understanding the processes of potential formation of “(transformative) agency”, taking into account both the non-deterministic nature of the latter and its dependence on a wide range of different institutional contexts, which, in turn, are transformed by it. Russian sociology can make an important contribution to solving these problems, relying on the baggage of conceptual ideas developed over a century and a half of its history, as well as on the unique and rich empirical context of contemporary Russian society.

sociological theory; Russian sociology; global crisis; de-structuration; transformative agency


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Content No 11, 2021