Novosibirsk Economic-Sociological School of Tatiana Zaslavskaya

The beginning of creating the Novosibirsk Economic-Sociological School happened in late 60-s when in 1967 academician Abel Aganbegyan has initiated   a department of social problems (labor and formation of labor resources) within the Institute of Economics and Industrial Engineering of the SB RAS. Tatiana Zaslavskaya, then doctor of economics, has been appointed a head of this new department. The department was given an ambitious task of studying rural Siberian population’s migration to urban areas. This task demanded linking-up scientific potential of different research groups with various theme interests, mastering mathematical methods of data analysis by sociologists, creating complex research method for studying the rural areas and conducting systematical sociological surveys both in the rural and urban areas.  The fulfillment of this and other big research tasks have consolidated the scientific team as well as contributed to forming high level demands in regards to methodological culture and quality of scientific product, i.e. standards of scientific work set up by Tatiana Zaslavskaya and her close supporters Rozalina Ryvkina, Valentina Kalmyk, Zoya Kupriyanova, Fridrikh Borodkin, Vasily Smirnov, Vladimir Gerchikov and others.

In early 1980-s Tatiana Zaslavskaya put forward an idea of improving the social mechanism of soviet economy as condition of its development. The idea was based on the results of the main research which have been conducted in the department of social problems: migration of population, rural studies, social-territorial structure, social demography, use of time by population, labor relations, social-economic differentiation.  Tatiana Zaslavskaya and Rozalina Ryvkina   have announced interaction of economic and social spheres of society, interaction of social and economic processes as an object of new (for native sociology) discipline, i.e. for economic sociology. Positioning of the economic sociology has happened in April 1983 in  Novosibirsk  Academgorodok during the all-county scientific seminar conducted by the Institute of Economics and Industrial Engineering (IEIE) SB RAS. A system of scientific tasks for economic sociology was described in the report of Tatiana Zaslavskaya  entitled  “On Improving the Production Relations of Socialism and Tasks of Economic Sociology” which has become widely famous by the title “Novosibirsk Manifest”.  Solving these tasks was and still is a guide to action for the members of the Social Problems Department which makes up a core of the Novosibirsk economic-sociological school.

The characteristic features of the School are as follows:

  • Interdisciplinary research (work at the interface of sociology and economics);
  • Commitment to complex, systematic study of social objects;
  • Plunging into the social-economic practice of Siberia and its regions, regular sociological expeditions;
  • Aiming research onto the most severe and vital problems of public development;
  • Combination of sociological, statistical and mathematical methods of research.

The scholars who headed the Department of Social Problems after academician Tatiana Zaslavskaya has left for Moscow - prof. Fridrikh Borodkin (1988-1995), prof. Zemfira Kalugina (1995-2008), prof.Tatiana Bogomolova (2008-till present) - supported and support now the traditions and areas of  scientific research which have been shaped up in the department. They   contributed to the development of the School, directed   scholars to studying vital social problems within the modern context and assigned innovative perspective and/or format for consideration of problems.

Three collective monographs have been published, under the heading “Research of the Novosibirsk Economic-Sociological School “(2).  Zemfira Kalugina   has been an initiator and integrator of authors teams for those monographs which included not only scholars of the department but also representatives of the Novosibirsk Economic-Sociological School (NESS) dispersed around the country and the world. Tatiana Zaslavskaya was editor-in-chief of those monographs, together with her Novosibirsk colleagues.

Sociological theoretical works of NESS team have got recognition of the professional community, i.e. concept of social work (Victor Artiomov), sociology of adaptations (Ludmila Korel), theory of razdatok economy (Olga Bessonova), theory of institutional matrix (Svetlana Kirdina). At present these works are getting new development, and new additions: new papers are published based on the idea of the social mechanism where the concept of rural households is introduced (Olga Fadeeva 2014) as well as structural-genetic approach to studying transformational processes in the sphere of family (Anna Mikheeva 2013).

Nowadays the research of the department is focused on the social change in Russia of the first quarter of the XXI century: analysis of social institutions, practices and groups in the context of global, national and regional challenges is being made. The key question is: in what measure, in which forms and under which conditions a person in Russia becomes a subject of social changes?

The main research lines correspond to the traditional thematic “repertoire” of NESS, but they also reflect modern actuality: social, demographic and food security in Russia and Siberian regions; social-labor practices and consciousness of actors in the society and economy under modernization; transformation of institutional order; modernization of labor and private life; formation of new social-economic inequalities.

Staff members of the department, as is customary within NESS, keep their fingers on the pulse of Siberia, monitoring the main parameters of social life of  the region in the process of regular sociological surveys and expeditions. During the last five years there have been conducted about dozen of them. Traditional for NESS interdisciplinarity has increased the dimension when in 2009-2014 the department’s members became participants of two interdisciplinary integration projects of the Siberian Branch of the RAS. One of those projects was dedicated to the evaluation of social risks while developing the human potential of the Siberian population, and the second one refers to analysis of perspectives and threats  in trans-boundary cooperation in the Eastern and Western Siberia. Also, the team has been working in the RAS program on the problems and perspectives of the economics and sociology of knowledge.

The main results of the School research in the years of 2000s were represented at the Symposium in memorium  of Tatiana Zaslavskaya entitled “Social Challenges to Economic Development”, conducted by the Russian Academy of National Economy and State Service (РАНХиГС),  in cooperation  with IEIE SB RAS, in May of 2014 in Novosibirsk.

Together with the Department of Social Problems, Economic Department of the Novosibirsk State University is another important element of forming and developing  the Novosibirsk Economic-Sociological School (NESS).  Traditionally, the leading members of the department teach there. In 1976 the sociological professionalization has been created at the Economic Department for the four-and five year students. During the fall semester of 1982 Tatiana Zaslavskaya and Rozalina Ryvkina were giving the course “Economic Sociology” for the first time in the country, and in 1989 a Chair of general sociology and Sociological Department were opened in the Novosibirsk State University, with assistance of Tatiana Zaslavskaya and efforts of Rozalina Ryvkina and her flock. At present exactly the Chair of Sociology and the Sociological Department, which celebrated their 25 years in 2014, represent an efficient mechanism for transmission of the NESS ideas and principles of the research work, for keeping traditions of complex studying social and economic processes.

By the end of 1980-s   NESS has become a fact of the reality, and since middle 1990-s the name “Novosibirsk Economic-Sociological School” has become   firmly represented in the scientific and journalistic circulation. In Russian sociological dictionaries and encyclopedia, as a rule, one can find an article “Novosibirsk Economic-Sociological School”. The contribution of NESS into the development of the national economic sociology and sociology in general is highly valued by the professional community. Apart from self-reflection, conducted by NESS members, the School as a special phenomenon is studied by the other researchers: they evaluate the stages of NESS development,  it strong and weak sides, its rosy prospects and those not so much rose-colored.

However, belonging (appliance) to NESS has been never determined only by geography, by the residence of “teacher and his/her flock”. When Tatiana Zaslavskaya was living and working in Novosibirsk, her graduate students as well as graduate students of the other leading scholars of the Social Problems Department, were coming from various parts of Siberia. Together with the participants of the sociological expeditions and students of the Novosibirsk State University  who have chosen sociological specialization, after completing their studies and leaving back home around the country, they continue to consider themselves as the flock of Zaslavskaya and/or belonging to NESS.