The Structure of Russian Sociological Field – 2020

The Structure of Russian Sociological Field – 2020

Safonova M.A.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Assoc. Prof., National Research University Higher School of Economic (St. Petersburg), St. Petersburg, Russia.

Sokolov M.M.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Prof. at European University at Saint Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Russia

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The study reported was conducted by the Centre for institutional analysis of science and education (European university at St. Petersburg) in collaboration with the Electronic Scientific Library “” and supported by the grant by the Russian Science Foundation No. 21-18-00519. The authors are grateful to Victor Glukhov (eLibrary) for organizational support, Pavel Stepantsov and Yulia Chursina (Synopsis Ltd) – for their help in designing and programming the survey questionnaire, to Anzhelika Tsivinskaya and Elena Chechik – for their assistance in downloading and processing the data, and Nadezhda Sokolova – for conducting network analysis of the data on sociologists’ areas of expertise.

For citation:

Safonova M.A., Sokolov M.M. The Structure of Russian Sociological Field – 2020. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2021. No 11. P. 91-105


An earlier study, conducted in 2009–2010, which the present authors were a part of, demonstrated that the sociological population of St. Petersburg, Russia was divided into isolated “bubbles” drawn apart by their adherence to localist or globalist ideology. The localist ideology ascribed greater importance to sociologists’ catering to their country’s social problems, praised the development of the national sociological tradition, and was skeptical about the applicability of “Western” theories to the Russian case. The globalist ideology, on the contrary, urged sociologists to address international audiences and ascribed greater value to international recognition. The aim of this study, based on an online survey of 1035 sociologists using nation-wide sample was to establish (1) if the localist-globlist divide was still present 10 years later and (2) if it was traceable at the national level. We studied the intellectual authority structures using nominations during a reputation survey as a source, and the bimodal network analysis as a method. We also studied “attention spaces” (Collins) using direct questions about one’s familiarity with peer’s work. The answer to both of our questions is positive: globalist and localist bubbles continue existing, and their boundaries are not a product of theoretical or methodological divides (e.g. positivism vs antipositivism, qualitative vs quantitative methodology), or specialization on different subject areas. Age exerts independent influence on the formation of attention spaces, but not on the authority structures. We conclude by discussing the causes of the persistence of local vs global divide.

sociology of science; sociology of sociology; information bubbles; reputation surveys; sociology in Russia


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Content No 11, 2021