ISSN online: 2221-1616

Bulletin of the Institute of Sociology (Vestnik instituta sotziologii)

Research Article

Olga V. Aksenova Doctor of Sociology
Institute of Sociology of the FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia
ORCID ID=0000-0003-1634-7597
The subject of social action in Russia’s current development: actor, agent, nobody?.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2020. Vol. 11. No. 2. P. 37-53

Дата поступления статьи: 14.05.2020
This Article is downloaded: 306 times
Topic: Social Determinants of Russian Society: Yesterday and Today

For citation:
Aksenova O. V. The subject of social action in Russia’s current development: actor, agent, nobody?. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2020. Vol. 11. No. 2. P. 37-53


This article examines the history of how the concept of the social action paradigm was created, as well as the prospects for its use in analyzing Russia’s current development. The first part of the study presents reflections on the development of the concept, and on how the process was affected by research principles created by Irina Khaliy, which include the study of activism and actualized values, as well as an outlook on social processes and phenomena based on locality. In conjunction this created a unique monitoring perspective, which identifies the properties of social action and its subject, while exhibiting the paradoxes and contradictions of the Soviet and Russian system of management. It is shown how a conclusion was reached on the active subject playing a crucial role in the traditional Russian model of government, as well as how the notion of the social action paradigm came to be, it being a combination of the basic properties of the action itself and its subject, which includes the ability to think outside the box and act independently, the value of complex and creative work, the value of freedom of action and so forth. Part two of the study considers the prospects of using such an interpretation of social action as “a dichotomy of free and algorithmic action” to examine processes of development. Progress in our time is aimed at an absolute algorithmization of human activity, as well as replacing humans in every single field with algorithms in the future. On a federal level, strategic planning in Russia prioritizes digitization and technological advancement. Space-wise, a trend is emerging towards establishing large metropolitan areas, which are more suitable for developing a system of technologies as opposed to small towns and settlements. Russia’s lagging development might result in social action being reduced to an algorithm, its subject – to a function, in other words – this might lead to the formation of a person who is unable to think or act independently. Technological cycles being totally dominated by algorithms in practice might lead to the appearance of “unnecessary people”, who’s physical survival cannot be guaranteed. The article poses the question – given such a situation, can you even consider these transformations to be advancement or progress?


paradigm of social action, actor, agent-function, free action, algorithmized action, technological system, “actor system”, development, progress, values


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