Thinking of Social Future: The Paradigms of Theoretical Constructing

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Yury ASOCHAKOV, St.Petersburg State University, Russian Federation
This paper analyzes theoretical-methodological approaches to the study of the social future. Sociological research aims at the description and the explanation of the social phenomena in the regime of “here and now”. At the same time, sociology always has in its view the project of a better future society. The features of a futuristic/social-utopian concern can be seen in the concepts of postindustrial society as well as in the studies of urban conflicts over parking lots and playgrounds. The object and the subject of sociology are asynchronous: the object of sociology is the present whereas its subject (overt or latent) is the future. Three main theoretical paradigms in sociology are based on different ratios of the present, as the obvious object of the research, to a hypothetical project of the future, as not so clearly reflected subject.

The “revolution” paradigm suggests viewing present as a moment on the eve of the arrival of the future, whose models become a dominating subject of the researched are constructed in the opposition to the realities of existing society as its observable object.

The "historical" paradigm brings the research to the systematization and interpretation of the past and the present as its objects, turning the statements about their nature into the formal historical universals where social future is presented only in the reduced form of theoretical idealization.

The "dialectical" paradigm, in its study of the progressive future-oriented social dynamics, focuses on the present as its research object. It constructs the models of the social future as resulting from the resolution of the contradictions in the hidden trends of the present. The application of this approach to the analysis of current version of capitalism allows us to study the emergence of the new forms of social interactions, control and inequality.