Author: Vakhshtayn Victor
Victor Vakhshtayn is a sociologist, specialist in sociological theory and microsociology,
director of the Centre for Sociological Research at Russian Presidential
Academy, chair in theoretical sociology and epistemology. He is the
author of approximately 50 articles and several books on sociological theory
and methodology of empirical research, including ‘Reality of Education:
sociological research from metaphor to interpretation’ (2013, co-author) and
‘Frame analysis and everyday life sociology’ (2011). He is the editor of ‘The sociology
of things’ (2006). E‑mail: email@example.com.
Contingent Labor — Forced Leisure. A Discussion / Logos. 2019. № 1 (128). P. 1-26
annotation: A sociologist and a philosopher conduct a freewheeling dialogue to try out different theoretical approaches (microsociology vs. post-Marxism) for identifying new phenomena within leisure while also seeking a language that properly describes them. What is the difference between idleness and leisure? How do they relate in terms of “permissibility” and social acceptance? What are the temporal characteristics that they have in common or that set them apart? Are temporal parameters a coercive factor, and how will they change with the “end of the factory whistle,” i.e. with a return to a type of social time characterized by thorough interpenetration of work and free time? What kind of temporal coercion will apply to forced leisure, which soon will become an acute problem? What types of individual and collective uses of free time are endorsed by society? How will the “reframing” of leisure time into new types of employment take place? It is likely that there will be further shifts in the relationship between leisure and work and in their opposition as “suppliers of meaning.” The importance of the act of choosing leisure time grows (and responsibility for it will also increase because leisure is clearly chosen more freely than a job, which is subject to a great many external factors). As a consequence, what new forms will coercion and alienation take with regard to leisure, and how will the temporality of this choice be structured (as a combination of many types or in rapid alternation)? Perhaps the logic of the habitus, which has been an integral component of industrial modernity, will be replaced by a different, more flexible and “omnivorous” logic. Many of these topics have already been raised during discussion of basic (or universal) income, but this is not the only relevant perspective. In any case, it is necessary to update the language of description and analysis. A lexicon that is neither purely Marxist nor grounded mainly in economics will be the most fruitful. Such a lexicon would take into account the diversity of temporal regulations, forced synchronizations, the institutional mechanics of temporal coercion, framing signals, and both local and universal temporal orders.
Keywords: idleness; leisure; temporalities; forced leisure; omnivorous leisure.
Reassembling the Everyday: Drones, Elevators, and the MT-1 Project / Logos. 2017. № 2 (117). P. 1-48
annotation: This paper is an exercise in object-oriented microsociology. Investigations of face-toface interaction fell victim to the “material turn” before all else. The actor-network theory invasion forced many microsociologists to question a key axiomatic assumption of the investigation of everyday life: in social interactions, material objects may only serve as either props or as part of the stage. However, we are now forced to rethink the Everyday (i.e., the original subject of microsociology) as an ontological sphere, the very existence of which is owed to a multitude of invisible actions of material non-human agents. The following paper aims to address three tasks. Firstly, we aim to reveal the line that separates the “material” from the “ontological” turn (MT-1 and MT-2). Our second task is to perform a theoretical revision of the forms of thinking and imagining that was proposed by MT-1 to researchers of the everyday (the codiycation of the functional modes of “objects-in-interaction,” the distinction of constitutive and performative constellations of roles, etc.). Thirdly, to evaluate the ways in which these theoretical assets may be employed in both the sociology of architecture and the sociology of technology. Why is PTSD more prevalent among military drone-operators than among pilots who participate in on-site battles? How did the invention of the railway block brakes change the architectural face of Manhattan? What is the relation between the constitutive and performative modalities of “acting things?” How does the idea of “technological disentanglement” help solve the issue of relating Rem Koolhaas’ concepts of “grid,” “schism,” and “lobotomy?” And, come to think of it, what does Bruno Latour have to with all of this? These questions, along with a few others, will be discussed in the following paper.
Keywords: drones; skyscrapers; block brakes; elevator; face-to-face interactions
Revolution and Reaction: On the Origins of Object-Oriented Sociology / Logos. 2017. № 1 (116). P. 41-84
annotation: This paper investigates a curious precedent in the history of social theory, namely the birth of object-oriented sociology from the spirit of the sociology of science. Our analysis focuses on the dispute between David Bloor and Bruno Latour, which was preceded by an extended trench war between adherents of the Strong Program and representatives of the “weak” approaches to the sociology of knowledge. We will attempt to show how the schism in the Wittgensteinian camp of sociology occurred, how the internal clash between the “skeptics” and “anti-skeptics” led to a weakened position of the Edinburgh School, and how Latour took advantage of the hasty retreat of Bloor to conservative Durkheimian positions prepared ahead of time. This dispute was a tragic event in the sociology of science, the final and decisive battle of the Strong Program against considerably more radical opponents. Not being able to survive from being stabbed in the back by his former Wittgensteinian allies, Bloor was forced to fend off Latour’s attacks by invoking the intuitions of Emile Durkheim and Mary Douglas. During this clash of the titans, Latour employed his ontological argument for the first time, conceiving the object as a self-referential, underdetermined and causal unit. It is precisely this conceptual move that would give the impulse for the creation of object-oriented sociology. Of all places, why did phrenology become so widespread on the British Isles? Is “one” a number? How did the appeal to the concept of “form of life” (Lebensform) help to answer the question about the social nature of scientific knowledge? How did the anti-skeptical argument of the post-Wittgensteinian sociology of science weaken the Strong Program? Why did the thesis of the “impossibility of private language” lead the Edinburgh School into a dead-end? And why did a debate on the nature of scientific knowledge of objects lead to a war of all-against-all, and a disagreement about the nature of objects themselves? These questions, along with some others, are discussed in this paper.
Keywords: phrenology; Strong Program; actor-network theory; object-oriented ontology; skepticism
Towards a microsociology of toys: inscription, affordance, transposition/ Logos. 2013. № 2 (92). P. 3-38
annotation: The article is focused on one of the key questions faced currently by sociology of materiality: how is the world of social interaction assembled, framed and shaped by our (emotional) relations with material things? To answer this question the author turns to analysis of play and playthings. He shows how the microsociology of toys can help to reconceptualize materiality in sociology of things by stressing the correlation between the normative and inscriptive modality of an object, its inscriptions and affordances, transposition of scripts from objects of play to a non-play objects, the implicit performativity of the interaction between humans and things. Starting with theoretical intuition articulated by ‘material turn’ in current sociological theory, the author is working out microsociological model to analyze the materiality of play-worlds.
Keywords: sociology of things, toy, actant, transitive objects, Lego-architecture, Lady Gaga, Django Unchained, Bruni Latour, Erving Goffman, frame analysis, material turn.