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Between The Political Theology and The Expressive Symbolism: discursive formations of the late modernity as a challenge to the social order

Priority areas of development: sociology

The research aims

Studying the dynamics of the fundamental motives of social behavior, first of all, -- of the search for “salvation” as a radical deliverance from the hardships of life, and the dynamics of the new forms of expressive symbolism; the goal of this endeavor is the development of elements of a “universal dictionary” of theoretical descriptions in the situation of mutual untranslatability of the languages of sociology, phenomenology and political theology; such a situation revives the tradition of thinking preceding political philosophy of modern times


Method of historical analysis of philosophical, theological and sociological texts, generalization of the relevant empirical studies of the modern religious practices, and construction of theoretical framework.

Research outcomes

1) the historical and theoretical reconstruction of the concept of “political theology” was carried out. It is usually associated with a set of works by Karl Schmitt, which have a predominantly polemical, political (and, secondarily -- theological) character. As a result of the research, it was demonstrated that there lies a large and alternative to conventionally understood sociology of Max Weber project of a new discipline, which in recent decades has undergone a revival and is being updated again;

2) for the first time, the philosophical sources and, in connection with this, the true meaning of political theology of the early Schmitt, based not only on the work of Catholic reactionaries, but also on the works of the predecessor of existentialist philosophy Søren Kierkegaard, are traced up. Both the sociology of the legal concept and the concept of sovereignty cannot be understood outside the context of Kierkegaard’s work;

3) the connection of political theology in the spirit of Schmitt with a theoretical rethinking of the history of European political and social thought is shown. First of all, this concerns the concept of People and its conceptualization in the political philosophy of the New Age, which gave rise to classical sociology;

4) as a result of comparing political theology, the sociology of knowledge and philosophical anthropology as simultaneously emerging and interconnected projects, the question of the productive nature of one of the least adequately evaluated resources of T. Parsons neoclassical sociology - the concept of expressive symbolism -- is re-posed;

5) the alternatives of ethical, aesthetic and political solutions to the problem of dissociation and homogenization of dissociated and devoid of a common emotional language of the people of the New Time are proposed. One of these options is cultural homogeneity, achieved in the most decisive way even through liberal tolerance; another option may be considered the specific temporalization of “Stranger” in modern conditions: a stranger can only prove “doubtful, conditional commitment” to a receptive group; neither the new pattern of the group in which he resides, nor his previous native pattern can be “natural” or “the best” for him;

6) Stranger's phenomenology as outwardly heterogeneous is compared with the phenomenology of loss of identity, that is, with internal heterogeneity. An appeal to Levinas's philosophy shows that the very concept of My experience, My time and, consequently, the experience and time, homogeneous to Me and Others, can be called into question, and this means the re-problematization of the whole project of revived political theology;

7) It has been demonstrated that in modern circumstances, such fundamentally eclectic, heterogeneous and dogmatic integration-free practices as new trends of the “new age” may turn out to be those of the practically more and more preferred forms of life, for which we will need new theoretical resources to comprehend.

Thus, the project brought clear and mostly expected results. Original writings, conference presentations and seminar talks, PhD-students’ and post-doc’s supervision proved that such reconceptualization of sociological work is legitimate, and it has good perspectives. However, this year also showed that more common and traditional forms of work such as translations, providing comments to the texts, and production of special issues etc. are still on top of the priorities in the work of the Centre for Fundamental Sociology.


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