9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS08 Modernization Theory. Dead or Alive in the 21st Century?

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Societies in transition Building AA, AA.324

Divergence of Transformation Processes in Post-Communist Societies: a Civilization Context

The discussion of transformation outcomes has become increasingly tense in the recent years and is now challenging contemporary social sciences. Two major approaches can be distinguished today. According to one of them, transformation is a linear process and it refers to logical transition from non-market to market economy. Such understanding of social development constitutes the classic theory of modernization (W.Rostow, T.Parsons). Similar lack of alternativeness is also a characteristic of the increasingly popular world-system analysis (I.Wallerstain).
Yet it can be argued that institutional and value systems, which determine the inner logics of social development, are not so universal in nature. The end of 1990s has seen the rise of new theories of non-European modernity, the variety of capitalisms and the trend towards distinguishing modernization from westernization. These ideas have received much support in developing countries. We too argue that the difference of transformation outcomes in European and Eurasian areas cannot be adequately explained in terms of single-vector deterministic model. The reason for the emerging variety of socio-economic developments may very well lie in the inner civilization differences between countries.
By merely accepting the multilinearity of transformation in the post-communist world we can explain the divergence of development paths in different societies and their economic performance after liberal reforms. The contemporary Russian society, as well as its Soviet predecessor, belongs to a specific (Eurasian) civilization and it is substantially different from European (Atlantic) civilization with its strong traditions for private property, market and the rule of law.
By analyzing data from three consequent surveys we have found some empirical evidence for a civilization-specific social organization in contemporary Russia. It is peculiar that classes and class relations immanent to capitalist societies do not exist in Russia in the sense they are usually perceived in European societies. What we have here can more likely be referred to as estates. Moreover, we discuss the results of other comparative research on basic values (evaluated according to G.Hofstede, S.Schwartz, etc.) and political culture (based on ESS waves) of different societies to substantiate our concept of existent civilization heterogeneity and its socio-economic effects.