OF THEORETICAL SOCIOLOGY
Professor Joanna Kurczewska, Head
Hanna Bojar, Assistant Professor
Andrzej Gniazdowski, Associate Professor
The Department’s research activities concentrate on broadly understood theoretical issues of sociology and the adjacent fields. Research interests cover both the study of the position of classical and contemporary sociology among other humanities and the comparative analysis of the basic concepts and models that are being formulated within the following theoretical perspectives: various brands of functionalism, conflict theory, symbolic interactionism theory and exchange theory. These perspectives are vital for the development of general sociology as well as particular sociologies. The research interest will be focused on the attempts of finding theoretical models for specific societies, particularly industrial and post-industrial or modern and post-modern. Furthermore, the theoretical hypothesis with regard to various types of contemporary societies - i.e. addressing post-communist societies in Central and Eastern Europe, Polish society in particular - will be formulated. Apart from the comparative analysis of the local variants of post-communist society, much attention will be paid to the creation of the conceptual instruments for producing the regional or local models of social change and/or social order. In other words, an attempt will be made of modifying modernisation theories through focusing on the East-European civilization backwardness. The research problems of the Department outlined above create a link with the research programme of Professor E. Mokrzycki “Społeczeństwo postkomunistyczne w perspektywie teoretycznej” (Theoretical perspective on post-communist society). The interest of the members of the Department is informed by a certain conception of theoretical sociology. This conception regards sociology as a complex cognitive practice and an instrument of gaining and storing knowledge about society rather than abstract thinking about the instruments of sociology as an academic discipline. Thus, the most significant spheres of interest will not so much be history of classical sociological theories and the study of their contemporary modifications and contestations, but reflection on the theoretical language and adjusting it to new social experience in the context of the analysis of the theoretical identity of the humanities and methodology. The institutions, values and social interests of Central and Eastern European societies can be grasped with the help of such meta-thinking. The following issues deserve particular attention: (i) the basic principles of democracy: negotiation, subsidiarity and national identity principles as well as the types of public discourse; (ii) the most important theoretical approaches to the phenomenon of civilization (particularly with regard to certain types of peripheral societies); (iii) the theories of limitations (internal and external) of social order, controlled and uncontrolled processes that take place on the mezzo-social level as well as mental barriers of social change – on mezzo and macro levels in the context of the integrating Europe; (iv) theoretical approaches to spatial conditions of collective action and cultural orientation (the concepts of social space and its diversification). The theoretical studies will be closely linked to the interpretation and re-interpretation of the data of field research. Field research, theoretical studies and their re-interpretations are aimed in several directions: (i) theoretical-conceptual – the thinking on the possibility of improving the theoretical characteristics of “social change”, “social order”, “civilization backwardness”, “ideology”, “democracy”, “responsibility”, “trust” and “risk”; (ii) the definition of the useful social theories (particularly, the modernisation theory, social bonds theory, legitimization theory); (iii) the analysis of transformation of the societies in Central and Eastern Europe from two complementary perspectives: one of tradition and memory and the other of prospective utopias and social and technological innovation; (iv) the characteristics of cultural and social contexts of the theory of limited sovereignty by taking into account the factor of the neighbourhood of states and integration processes at regional as well as continental levels.
Address: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology PAN,
00-330 Warsaw, Nowy Świat 72, Room 139,
tel. (48 22) 657-28-98; fax (48 22) 826-78-23