European Society or European Societies: Methodology of Answer
sub-division of evolution of social and economic systems Institute of Economics of Russian Academy of Sciences Moscow, Russia
The answer to the main question of the 9th European Sociological Association Conference, 2009 depends on the methodology what is used for the sociological analysis of modern society. The paper presents the use of the Institutional Matrices Theory (IMT) for this analysis. Within the frameworks of IMT paradigm the European society can be considered from two points of view.
First, the same basic institutions predominate in the institutional structure of most European nations. They are the following:
in the economic sphere: institutions of market economy;
in the political sphere: institutions of federative (federative-subsidiary) political order;
in the ideological sphere: institutions of the ideology of subsidiarity which proclaims the dominance of individual values over the values of larger communities, the latter bearing a subsidiary, subordinating character to the personality, i.e. the priority of I over We.
In this regards we can say about the European Society what is different from Russian, Chinese or Indian societies because other basic institutions prevail in these societies. There are the following:
in the economic sphere: redistributive economy institutions (term introduced by Karl Polanyi, 1977). Redistributive economies are characterized by the situation when the center regulates the movement of goods and services, as well as the rights for their production and use;
in the political sphere: institutions of unitary (unitary-centralized) political order;
in the ideological sphere: institutions of communitarian ideology, the essence of which is expressed by the idea of dominance of collective, public values over individual ones, the priority of We over I.
Above-mentioned institutions play the additional or complementary role in the institutional complex of European society.
Second, the embodiment of the same basic institutions as well as proportions of basic and complementary institutions is discernible for European nations. E.g. the ratio of public and private property is higher in France in comparison with Germany. Or the federative political order is carried out in different political European models. From this point of view we can say about European Societies bearing no resemblance to each other.