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VI All-Russian Sociological Congress    

Sociology and Society: Traditions and Innovations
Abstract to the VI all-Russian Sociological Congress

The relevance of the Central problem of the VI All-Russian sociological Congress is determined by modern Russian realities, which are characterized by the universal coexistence of traditions and innovations. Our country has never been at such a complex and combined intersection of traditions and innovations in the economics and politics, in culture and education, in space and time. Russia was faced with a choice again: to return to the traditional isolationism of the country, proclaiming the danger of it’s existence in the ring of enemies and developing a new strategy of self-preservation, or to seek innovative ways to resist sanctions and activate its own activities.

In such circumstances, the appeal to traditions, the desire to elevate them, to find a role model in them can play an innovative role and thus emphasize the dialectic of traditions and innovations. This is evidenced by the functions of traditions and innovations that intertwine, leave one state, but immediately pass into another. We have come to believe that traditions live and persist as long as their social carriers – social communities, large and small groups-live and persist. These groups, in turn, live by traditions even when the social institutions and relationships that generate them disappear. This is the main feature of traditions, which we define as the force of inertia that makes the traditions themselves long and protracted.

The peculiarity of the world-historical process is that the traditions developed over centuries and decades and rooted in a certain social form do not disappear at once, but are able to provide a long and sometimes heroic resistance to the innovations that come to them.

However, these recently seemingly unshakable traditions in the conditions of the XXI century quickly fall under the pressure of innovations that arise literally at the tip of the arrow of time, in the structure and in the depths of modern IT technologies, new communications, scientific and educational knowledge and at a high speed «crash» into traditions, breaking them and destroying them. At the same time, these innovations, after they have been dealt blows to the traditions, begin to claim to become something stable and persisting for some time with the claim to be gradually fixed in the new traditions. Any serious innovation is revolutionary and destructive to tradition. But having achieved this first goal, it does not seek to do away with other traditions, but aims to take their place.

This means that tradition and innovation are two interacting and complementary mechanisms of self-organization of various social systems-from the simplest to the most complex. Moreover, in any social system, we can see how tradition and innovation get along and at the same time fight, how the second comes on top of the first and wants to change the nature of the system at its expense.

In Russian society, traditions and innovations are in a socially unequal position. The study of this social inequality between the first and second is the task of sociological science. Sociologists are able to determine that much depends on who and how supports innovations in one case, and traditions in the other. In this sense, the traditional and at the same time innovative question may be the same: what is behind the tradition, and what is behind the innovation?

According to sociologists, the tradition is:

  1. stability, sustainability, continuity, self-preservation;
  2. transfer of social and cultural heritage from previous generations to subsequent ones;
  3. adaptation of social communities and groups to the prevailing socio-economic system and culture;
  4. simple reproduction of the existing social order and the norms that dominate it;
  5. negative feedback of processes within social systems, which supports their structural stability;
  6. full compliance of the main components of society with each other;
  7. certain limitations of social space and slowing down of social time.

According to sociologists, the innovation is:

  1. instability, multi-variance, nonlinearity of processes, «break of gradualness», new trajectories along the «arrow of time», chaotic social system and its transformation into a more complex and super-complex system;
  2. reviewing the socio-economic and socio-cultural heritage of the past and choosing from it what corresponds to the present and future;
  3. strengthening the incompleteness of compliance with the main components of society and the possibility of their qualitative self-change and a new configuration of social forces;
  4. maladaptation of social communities and groups to the prevailing social system and culture, their development of new social relations and values;
  5. expanded reproduction of all societal subsystems, integration and differentiation of society;
  6. positive feedback that increases the intensity of the processes of new structural stability in society;
  7. greater openness of social space, acceleration of social time.

According to sociological research, tradition is responsible for functioning, and innovation is responsible for development. Together, they represent two mechanisms without which the self-organization of simple and complex social systems is impossible.

Traditions and innovations are deeply concrete and historical. There is no tradition and innovation «in general» and «as such» – in this form they exist only in abstraction. The peculiarity of the sociological interpretation of the problem is that its task is to identify the specific content of specific traditions and specific innovations.

The task of Russian sociology is not only to study the historical genesis and genealogy of traditions and innovations, but also to directly protect those traditions and innovations, the «inheritance» without which it is impossible to continue the existence and development of our society and the person in it.

The attitude to tradition and innovation becomes one of the most important values and criteria for evaluating the prospects of society in the public consciousness. Sociologists point to a number of expected consequences of the sharp stratification of Russian society into supporters of the activation of traditions in the life of society and innovative approaches to its development.

Contradictions are growing between traditions and innovations in modern Russia. This situation is caused by contradictions between carriers, subjects, social groups – supporters of traditions (conservatives, traditionalists) and innovators who welcome the need to introduce innovative approaches (especially in the development of the economy and changing the political establishment). One of the main questions facing sociologists in this regard is the question of the ratio, the proportions of the first and second.

The challenge for sociology is to define and justify the boundary between traditional and innovative societies. And this is not only about society as a whole, but also about regions where the ratio of traditional and innovative may be not the same as in Moscow.

No less important is this question about the position of the government – what does it gravitate to more? What is behind the division of society into traditionalists and innovators? What prospects for the development of society are associated with a tilt towards one or the other?

In general, the divisions into traditionalists and innovators are multidimensional in terms of their manifestation in the life of society in the political, economic, socio-cultural, socio-ethnic, territorial, professional, etc. context. Thus, the theme of the Congress and publications on it will allow uniting the efforts of almost 5 thousand Russian sociologists working in the framework of 39 research committees of the RSS and 74 of its territorial offices.

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