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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
This article looks at sociology as a proto-science, in contrast with natural sciences, which have already developed past the conflicting paradigm phase and managed to achieve a more or less universal consensus in theoretical discourse, as well as define their stance on practical issues. In sociology’s case, this transition is far more complicated, because, unlike natural sciences, sociology is not directly driven by the condition and changes of its main object of study. Instead, it is entwined into the complicated interactions between academia, the government, and society. To review the development path of sociology, we use the typology of theories described by P. Sztompka: theories based on reviewing the viewpoints and texts by other authors; analytical theories, based on generalizing and explaining the concepts introduced in academic literature, as well as on developing typologies and classifications; heuristic theories, based on the images of social phenomena and on the concepts that prompt sociology to pose questions; and explanatory theories, based on generalizing models built upon systemically organized facts. We look at the development of sociologic theory in close correlation to the overall development of science, which is currently experiencing the so-called post-non-classical stage. Post-non-classical science looks at all objects of study as measurable in “human terms”, with their development being rooted in humankind’s world-changing activities. This allows to base the modern scientific worldview on a holistic and universal evolutionary concept and to introduce new ideological milestones for the development of human civilization. The objectively true explanation and description of any and all phenomena occurring in nature, society, and the human life, presupposes the inclusion of axiological factors into the explanations and research standards. Sociology still has not achieved the degree of disciplinary unity that is needed to juxtapose and summarize its knowledge base and leverage the said knowledge for a practical solution of complex, multi-aspect issues. The first obstacle on the road to this unity is the clash of multiple paradigms; the second is the gap between the theoretical and the empirical; and the third, and most prominent, obstacle is a number of methodological challenges that arise when we try to make a distinction between the social and sociological realia. All the above prevents sociology’s escape from the proto-science limbo. What sociology needs is to reconsider its very foundations and practically applied methodological strategies, to design some manner of a unified disciplinary approach, to overcome the excessively fragmented state of the sociological knowledge base, and to make a number of steps to ensure that sociology is recognized as a discipline in its own right. This will allow sociology to move to a whole new, problem-oriented level of fundamental research.
social theory, sociological theory, explanatory sociology, action activist approach, P.Bourdieu, post non-classical science.
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