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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article reviews the historic progress of sociology of professional groups in Russia. We analyze the specific features, role, and impact of this research tradition. We believe that combining Russian and foreign theoretical approaches to the study of professional group status in modern Russia would be a very promising approach. We look at the professional group studies conducted in Russia after the revolution, when the popularity of the scientific labor management concepts gave rise to psychological and technical research of industrial processes, aiming to gain insights into the psychology of labor, career guidance, and labor force selection. We also analyze job research papers written in the 1960s through the 1980s, at a time then the sociology of intelligentsia and stratification studies of professional groups became prevalent, and the modern state of this branch of Russian sociology, refreshed by Western theories. Reviews of Western sociology of professional groups bore little relevance to Soviet Russia. Today, however, Russian sociologists actively refer to Western theories of professions and the professionalization process. Interestingly enough, researchers focus on a most diverse range of professional groups, from doctors, lawyers, managers, and the business elites to police officers and folk medicine practitioners. Surrounded by the reality of post-Soviet Russia, sociologists have concluded that the very notions of “profession” and “professionalization” are closely linked to the social and economic system type and the specific historical development processes. We are suggesting that Russian and foreign theoretical approaches be viewed mutually complementing elements of social analysis for determining the social status score of professional intelligentsia groups, which, after the shift to market economy, have been given an opportunity not only to reproduce the social system but also to contribute to building this system. The empiric studies completed to date confirm that the Western theoretical models may be efficiently applied to Russian realia, provided that we account for the specifics of Russian society’s structure and history. Conversely, the use of categories from Russian sociology of professional groups may expand the heuristic capacity of its Western counterpart, in addition to opening new opportunities for cross-cultural comparative analysis.
sociology of professions, social status of professional groups, historical research