9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS16 Russia and Its European Identity

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Public Sociology in a Civil Environment in Russia Building II, C4.05

Professionalism and Russian Intelligentsia: Western and Russian Approaches

The sociology of professions has exceeded the limits of the Anglo-American context and started spreading over Europe since the 1970s and 1980s. Until then, "continental" scholars had not found the professions to be worthy subjects of investigation, as they could hardly understand or translate the concept. Russian scholars became interested in the research findings of the Anglo-American sociology of professions even later, at the end of 1990s as a result of political and economic reforms (Mansurov, Yurchenko 2005). Western theories of professions and professionalism had limited relevance to Russia in the Soviet period because, as a socialist state, it operated closer to a state centrist or command economy model without a legally defined professional monopolies (Lane 1985). However, with a major political change away from socialism over the past decade and a half, Russian society has become more market-oriented, with increasing moves to build professional enclaves.
This paper will centre on the study of Russian intelligentsia illustrated by the example of medical profession. We shall not review Anglo-American theoretical material exhaustively - the nature and role of professions and professionalism in the Anglo-American context have already been widely discussed. The analysis of recurring themes can be seen, for example, in Larson (1977), Burrage et al. (1990), Macdonald (1995), Freidson (2001), Saks (2003). The study of Russian intelligentsia, primarily Russian doctors, will be examined in more detail. In the paper, we shall follow the Anglo-American interpretation of the terms "profession" and "occupation", in order to prevent theoretical confusion . In this frame, we shall present some findings on the comparative aspects of the Russian intelligentsia and Anglo-American professionals. We shall provide a brief review of theoretical studies of intelligentsia. Then, we shall describe the process of the dynamics of the social status of the Russian medical profession seen as a part of the intelligentsia stratum, and centre on its specific features in comparison to Anglo-American professions.