Totalitarian Experience and Knowledge Production

Sociology in Central and Eastern Europe 1945-1989


Totalitarian Experience and Knowledge Production examines, in a comparative perspective, sociology as practiced in six European Communist countries marked by various forms of totalitarianism in the period 1945-1989. In contrast to normative sociology’s view that such coexistence is essentially impossible, the author argues that sociology could function in these undemocratic societies insofar as sociologists succeeded in establishing relatively autonomous institutional and cognitive zones. Based on the self-reflection of scholars who had practiced their profession during that period, the book reveals the tribulations of the scientific identity of sociology under the specific social-political conditions of totalitarian societies. It becomes evident that the basic principle that made sociological knowledge possible was freedom of thought in search for scientific truth despite the ‘truth’ imposed by political authority.

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Svetla Koleva, DSc (2017), is Research Director at the Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. She has published numerous articles and six books, including Sociology as a Project. Scientific Identity and Social Challenges in Bulgaria, 1945-1989 (Pensoft, 2005, in Bulgarian), Sociology in Bulgaria through the Eyes of Generations. Interviews with Bulgarian Sociologists (Pensoft, 2012, in Bulgarian, co-editor). She edited the special issue of Sociological Problems on 'Non Hegemonic Sociologies: From Contexts to Practices' (2015) and co-edited the issue on 'New Objects of Sociology' for Cahiers de Recherche Sociologique (2016, no. 59-60).
Part 1. Methodological Notes
1 Following the Traces of the Past: The Methodological Pitfalls of Time
2 The Object of Sociology vs. Sociology as an Object of Research: The Theoretical Pitfalls of the Conception of Totalitarianism
3 Sociology Grappling With Itself: The Conceptual Pitfalls of the Single-variant Disciplinary Self-referentiality
4 Conceptual Framework of the Analysis
Part 2. Institutional Cycles of Sociology in Central and Eastern Europe, 1945–1989
5 From Historical Chronology to Institutional Cyclicity
6 Institutional Reanimation of Sociology:–1948/49
7 Institutional Mimicry I:/49–1956
8 Institutional Expansion I:–1968
8.1 Sociology and Politics: Limits of (In)Compatibility
8.2 Toward Institutional Expansion: The General and the Specific
8.3 Paradoxes in Institutional Expansion
8.3.1 Professional Associations Without Sociologists
8.3.2 Research Structures Without Educational Structures
8.3.3 Conducting Sociological Research Without Professional Experience
8.3.4 The Self-Constructing Sociological Public: Inside and Outside the Official Space
8.4 Intermediate Recapitulation
9 Institutional Mimicry II:–1980
9.1 It All Began With Czechoslovak Sociology …
9.2 …. And then the National Sociologies of Poland and ussr Followed
9.3 Atypical Cases: Bulgarian and Hungarian Sociology
9.4 Intermediate Recapitulation
10 Institutional Expansion II:–1989
10.1 It Started With Polish Sociology
10.2 “Seedbeds of Experience” in Other National Sociologies
10.3 Official Institutional Structures, Old and New, and Their Strategies
10.4 Intermediate Recapitulation
11 Institutional Cycles: General Conclusion
part 3. Disciplinary Construction of Sociology: Processes and Modalities
12 A New Context, a New Object of Research: What Kind of Sociology?
13 From a New Deontological to a New Epistemological Model of Social Science Cognition
14 Multifaceted Sociology: Modalities of Knowledge Production
14.1 Sociological Practice Between Theory Deficit and Methodological Rigor
14.1.1 From Marxist to Post-Marxist Sociology: The Gradual Cognitive Diversification and Professionalization of Sociological Practice
14.1.2 “Empirical” Sociology: From Methodological Rigor to Theoretic Eclecticism
14.1.3 From Theoretical Escapes to Conceptual Innovations; From Loaned Methodologies to Methodological Creativity
14.2 Sociological Practice in the Continuity of Engagements-Detachments
14.2.1 From the Political Project of Socialism as a Goal and Ideal of Society, to the Empirical Reality of Socialism
14.2.2 From Studying the Empirical Reality of Socialism to Doubting the System of Socialism
15 Summing-up. Production of Scientific Knowledge about the ‘Socialist Society’: Surmounting the Paradoxes
Conclusion: “A Legacy Without a Testament”
Index of Names
Index of Subjects
All interested in the contexts and modalities of sociology in post-1945 Communist Europe, its institutional and cognitive development, and, seen through its disciplinary history, how it was able to function in totalitarian Communist societies.
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