Research Goal: To analyze, drawing upon a large array of sources, the evolution of the main social parameters of the disciplinary field in the humanities within the period from the second half of the 19th to the beginning of the 21st centuries. These parameters include: (1) institutional transformations and (2) non-institutional forms of the academic community’s spontaneous self-organization. The central methodological issue the project team intended to resolve was that of the aporetic interaction of the externalist and internalist or, alias, social and cognitive aspects in the historiography of the humanities. The project team proceeded from the hypothesis that a conceptual imbalance exists between the dominant historiographical models in social and human sciences. Whereas in the historiography of the humanities, the axiom is still valid according to which the contents of scientific knowledge is autonomous from the social conditions of its production (hence the commitment of the genealogy of the human sciences to the traditional history of ideas), the theoretical discussions concerning the correct language to analyze the social sciences’ dynamics (at least, since 1970) were focused on the quest for reconciling the ‘sociologist attitude’ with the ‘epistemologist attitude’. Therefore, the task of filling in this gap of sociological perspective in the historiography of the humanities was of paramount importance within the framework of the project.
Empirical Base of the Research: (a) Fundamental texts in philosophy, sociology, and the epistemology of the human sciences which make it possible to retrace the sociologization of disciplinarity studies (W. Dilthey, E. Husserl, H. G. Gadamer, and N. S. Struever and sociological research on disciplinarity between 1960 and 2000); (b) research surveys, journalist essays, and ego-documents that make it possible to reconstruct (1) the contacts of the French intellectuals who came after Napolean, and (2) the social and personological context of the reception of F. J. W. Schelling in Russia and Eastern Europe; (c) documents from university archives and texts written by European intellectuals that contain their reflections on the relationship between the disciplinary principle and professionalization as well as between disciplinary languages and supradisciplinary methods; (d) a large sample of articles in periodicals that allow the function of periodicals and editorial agencies in shaping and transforming disciplinary fields to be explored (the periodical series New Ideas published by the Obrazovanie Publishing House in the 1910s and 1920s; post-WWII Soviet historical reviews; and the almanacs Odysseus, Casus, and THESIS as the most active ‘agents’ involved in the westernization of post-Soviet historical periodicals).
Research Results: A first-time-ever, large-scale synthesis was carried out within the framework of this project, combining the classical perspectivist history and theory of science with a rich repertoire of communicative, political, and social-anthropological methods. This enabled the project participants to resolve two important aporiai―a theoretical one, ie to overcome the “splendid isolation” of the humanities from the methods of the sociology and institutional history of science, and a pragmatic one, ie to show the practical inconsistency of sociologist reduction which is fraught with grave consequences particularly in the management of science where the disregard of the cognitive dimension of research practice generates an illusion of managerial omnipotence).
Th specific empirical and theoretical results of the project can be summarized as follows:
(1) It has been shown that the predominance of a sociological perspective in contemporary research on the social sciences and humanities is a consequence of a long-standing and still smoldering rivalry between philosophy, sociology, and “human science epistemology” (in its various forms, from the idea of historische Geisteswissenschaft to “philosophical hermeneutics”) competing for the status of a meta-discipline (or a “meta-language”);
(b) The thesis has been substantiated whereby the shift from epistemology to sociology in the reflection on disciplinarity had been preconditioned by the evolution of the social and human sciences themselves, with this field of knowledge losing its autonomy and research growing more pragmatic from discipline-oriented to issue- or project-oriented knowledge;
(c) The history of the social network approach to analyzing disciplinarity has been reconstructed and the heuristic potential of this approach has been explicated. This made it possible to provide for theoretical validity and historical underpinning when applying this method to case studies;
(d) The interaction of two rival tendencies―disciplinary specialization on the one hand and the shaping of supradisciplinary scholarly discourses and methods on the other―has been analyzed based on representative historical cases: the anachronistic interpretation of the syncretic “paleology” in the Soviet historiography of archeology; the role of the German Begriffsgeschichte in the disciplinary redefining of history in the mid-20th century; the confrontation between the Soviet overarching discipline of obshcheye yazykovedeniye and specialized western-style structural linguistics in the institutional context of Soviet philology of the second half of the 20th century;
(e) The main forms and mechanisms of the integration of local knowledge orders (“national sciences”) into global “international” science (based on examples of history and economics in post-Soviet Russia);
(f) The problematic interaction between disciplinary specialization and professionalization in the humanities and the social sciences has been examined (the analysis was based on European sources from 1850–1940; special research was done on the professionalization of American sociology);
(g) We analyzed the role of scientific periodicals and editorial agencies in the shaping of disciplinary fields, in the emergence of interdisciplinary syntheses, and in internationalization of disciplines.
Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results. The research project’s findings have been and will be used in the curricula in history and the sociology of science within the MA Programme History of Knowledge and Social History, offered by IGITI and the HSE Department of History; in addition, the findings can be adopted in theoretical research in the social sciences and the humanities as well as in the planning and management of human and social scientific research work.
Field of Application: Not only does the project open new horizons for research on the development of the social and human sciences, but it can also be used to correct and improve scientific policy methods. Project participants have included their findings in a series of publications (including international ones)―most notably in the collective monograph Disciplinary Orders in Human Sciences, edited by Irina M. Savelieva and Alexander N. Dmitriev. The monograph discusses disciplinarity and its manifestations in the development of the humanities. The book aims to retrace the history of today's disciplinary field―from the “plasmatic” early modern forms of (proto)disciplinarity to the dissolution of the disciplinary principle under the influence of exogenous factors (eg challenges of the ‘academic market’) as well as endogenous factors (eg the emergence of forms of knowledge that are alien to the disciplinary matrix, eg cultural studies). The project's main conclusions were presented at Social and Human Sciences on Both Sides of the 'Iron Curtain' (17-10 October 2013), a large international conference that brought together scholars from more than 10 European and American countries, and were discussed at the conference Les sciences humaines et sociales en Russie: invention de langages scientifiques et traduction (Paris, IGITI HSE, and EHESS) and at the Russian-Polish academic debates (Moscow, May 2013; and Warsaw, December 2013).