“Intercivilizational Encounters” with the West and Modernizing Moves in Post-Soviet Russia: Civilizational Perspective

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 5:50 PM
Room: Booth 56
Oral Presentation
Yulia PROZOROVA , Russian Academy of Sciences, St.Petersburg, Russia
The present paper considers civilizational analysis as an appropriate theoretical framework for the study of transformations and modernization in the post-soviet Russia. Unlike the conceptions of linear westernization, ‘transition’ or modernization theory and its variations (‘catch-up modernization’, ‘convergency’, etc.) civilizational analysis and multiple modernities theory do not disregard indigenous traditions, sociocultural settings, internal contradictions and historical background. The changes in contemporary Russia and the distinction of Russian modernity are mainly shaped by the post-Soviet encounter of the Russian society with its legacy of the “soviet project of modernity” (J. Arnason) and imperial traditions with Western modernity. The first post-Soviet decade was a period of the ultimate ‘openness’ to the western modernity and the domination of Westernism in political discourse.   Acquired Western institutional models and cultural ideas (capitalistic free-market economy and democratic policy with liberal ideology, to name few) have been originally interpreted and mutated while being assimilated into the Russian context. Following Arnason, the encounter between the West and the rest is seen as a ‘global projection of the problematic’ that remains open to diverse alternative interpretations. To illuminate the outcomes and impact of the Western borrowings and reveal factors affecting their adaptation, the paper proposes to conceptualize contacts between the post-Soviet Russia and the West as “intercivilizational encounters” (B. Nelson and J. Arnason) with a focus on the interaction between different “civilizational complexes” (B. Nelson). The post-Soviet “encounters” induced changes in cultural orientations, interpretation of power, institutional forms and design, patterns of reciprocities and “structures of consciousness” (liberal world-views, new concepts, rationales and logic of action, market rationality, individualism, etc.). These borrowings are considered with the regard to the peculiarities of the Russian civilizational complex (inclination toward the organization of political power in a centralized, authoritative manner, role of political and ideological/ religious orthodoxy, distinct rationality, etc.).