Research Projects

changeEast European Transition as a Total Social Change

This project is an effort to construct theoretical foundations for studying the East European transition from a planned economy to a market and from Communist power system to democracy. Although much research is being carried out in the field, concerning economic, political and social change, for example, within the framework of the research programme by the Academy of Finland, not much theory development is made. Large empirical projects, for example, in the context of the Finnish graduate school for Russian and East European Studies, would also seem to demand an effort to solve more general theoretical and methodological problems. Several reasonable explanations can be given for the underdevelopment of theory in the field. Social sciences in Eastern Europe were traditionally bound up with the basic concepts of historical materialism. From this point of view, the direction of transition is anomalous in a very clear sense. Consequently, social scientists in Eastern Europe are apt to concentrate on adopting the basic concepts of Western understanding of totalitarianism and modernization. Only very few have a high profile in independent theoretical work. On the other hand, Western social sciences are inclined to analyze the transition from the teleological point of view. A general model of modern society is seen as the target of the current social change. In my previous works, I have developed an approach from another point of view. One of the most essential nodal points is to theorize social development both from the point of view of intended results and unintended results of action. In this project, this approach is going to be developed towards a general methodology for transition studies.

Contact person: Markku Kivinen (Markku.Kivinen [at] helsinki.fi)

Duration:
2001-2003

Other members: Anna Kokko (Anna.Kokko [at] helsinki.fi), Jouko Nikula (jouko.nikula [at] helsinki.fi)

Funding: Academy of Finland