Russian Society's Civilizational Transit


This paper deals with the issue of specific civilizational process formation in Russia as a new figuration and configuration of the forms of modernity. It is argued that explanations of the dynamics of Russian society are often based on the idea of predestination of the trajectory of its development (path dependency) that is caused either by the universal logic of modernization and globalization or by persistence of the basic cultural program or matrix which is reproduced in social practices. A civilizational transit of Russian society phenomena is discussed within multiple modernities theory as a new perspective that allows overcoming some of the problems with the predominant approaches to Russian modernization. Civilizational approaches to analyses of Russian culture, politics and society have been associated mostly with theories of ‘historical cycles’ worked out in late nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. More recently a considerable attention has been devoted to different versions of ‘neoEurasianism’. In addition, the notion of ‘clash of civilizations’ proposed by Samuel Huntington became prominent in the political discourse in Russia at the end of 1990s. At the same time, the concept of civilization is discussed widely in today’s historical sociology. A specific school of ‘civilizational analysis’ that draws on the ideas of Shmuel Eisenstadt emerged at the end of the 1990s. This perspective has already influenced some new trends in sociology of religion, political sociology and international relations theory. The panel seeks to demonstrate the relevance of a new wave of civilizational analysis for understanding contemporary Russian culture, politics and society.

Keywords: Russian society, civilizational transit, multiple modernities

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