Contemporary Civilizational Analysis in Historical Sociology:
Problems and Prospects
Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Lead Researcher, Sociological Institute of FCTAS RAS, St. Petersburg, Russia firstname.lastname@example.org
Contemporary civilizational analysis is a dynamic field in world historical sociology. This perspective develops the Weberian sociological tradition focusing on civilizational foundations of different trajectories of political modernization. At the same time civilizational analysis encounters some obstacles caused by its internal conceptual problems, the persistence of disciplinary boundaries between sociology and history and also ideological use of the civilization concept. In particular, ideologization of the civilizational approach proved to be one of the reasons for its slow reception in Russian sociology. Nevertheless, interest in civilizational analysis represented by the works of Shmuel Eisenstadt and Johann Arnason has been growing among Russian researchers since the early 2010s. But it should be taken into account that civilizational analysis largely remains on the level of general theory. Working out middle range theories which could be subject to empirical testing constitutes a challenge to that approach. The article argues that such theories can be formulated on the basis of the research program of “civilizational politics” in the field of international relations. This program has been influenced by the ideas of historical sociologists and at the same time it is more empirically oriented. The article regards new perspectives in historical sociology and studies of international relations as largely complementary.
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