ISSN online: 2221-1616

Bulletin of the Institute of Sociology (Vestnik instituta sotziologii)

Research Article

Olga V. Aksenova, Doctor of Sociology main researcher, , Doctor of Sociological sciences, leading research fellow. Institute of Sociology of the FCTAS RAS, Moscow city, Russia.
From Organization to Chaos: Actor in the System Accident.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2014. Vol. 5. No. 3. P. 85-110

This Article is downloaded: 120586 times
Topic: Sociology of Management

For citation:
Aksenova O. V. From Organization to Chaos: Actor in the System Accident. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2014. Vol. 5. No. 3. P. 85-110


The present paper analyses the problem of the reduction and simplification of the actor in the modern technological system. This problem is related to the risk of system accident due to the non-strict implementation of instruction and the independent decision-making of the operator. Such independence and decisiveness complicates the system and increases the risk of an accident. However, the reduction to its function is also risky. Moreover, there is a risk of the loss of the actor due to the expansion of technologies. This article describes the activities of the actor in a stable and organised space and in the situation of chaos. The theoretical approach utilises Charles Perrow’s concept of system failure and A. Touraine and B. Latour’s definitions of actor. The research is based on the case of the Chernobyl catastrophe. The following data sources were used: the memoirs of the power plant’s personnel, participants in the remediation and cleanup of the accident, publications and documents, and in-depth interviews with experts. The Chernobyl catastrophe was the result of a typical system accident. It occurred due to the unpredictable coincidence of many failures and errors; therefore, there were no specific offenders. The current paper reveals Soviet specialists’ views on the fictionalisation of the actor and introduces the concepts of “conscious От регламента к хаосу: действующий субъект в системной аварии 109№ 3(10), сентябрь 2014discipline”, “programmed action”, and “reasonable action”. The paper also considers the role of the actor in the management of the disaster’s consequences in the situation of chaos. The specific organisational structure of the above management is revealed. Special attention is given to the role of values and personality in solving problems. The paper also considers the available information on the accident at the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant, including the opinions of Russian experts. The results of activities of the actor who is reduced to function are analysed. The paper focuses on the possibility of a flexible modern system to compensate the lack of an independent actor. A number of problems that are related to resource mobilisation and communications and the strictly programmed actions of operators are discussed. The paper presents preliminary results and identifies potential areas of comparative research on the subject-actor and the subject function. The risks that are associated with the disappearance of the actor are identified.


actor, technological system, organization, rules, algorithm, conscious discipline, reasonable action, programmed action, intellectual action, system accident, risk, chaos, values, personality