Sociology in the USSR (Late 1920–1980s):
Changing Conventions and Exegesis of Lenin's Theoretical Legacy

Kononov I.F

Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Prof., Luhansk Taras Shevchenko National University, Starobilsk, Ukraine

DOI: 10.31857/S013216250009399-1
ID of the Article: 8148

For citation:

Kononov I.F Sociology in the USSR (Late 1920–1980s): Changing Conventions and Exegesis of Lenin's Theoretical Legacy. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2020. No 5. P. 90-101


The article analyzes the role of Lenin’s philosophical heritage in the fate of Soviet Marxist sociology over the time span from the Stalin’s “revolution from above” to the Perestroika and collapse of socialism in the USSR. It was established that sociology in the Soviet Union was moving along a trajectory similar to a sinusoid. In general, it faced two ups and downs. These two stages differed from each other quite significantly. At the first stage, sociology was considered a basically theoretical science. Tasks of obtaining empirical data on wellbeing of society and its systems were incumbered upon statistics. They believed that this information is generalized by various social sciences, including sociology. The first stage ended with official recognition of historical materialism by Marxist sociology, but in real teaching practice it was considered a part of Marxist philosophy. Moreover, it was turned into a dogmatic ideological doctrine. The second stage of the development of Marxist sociology in the USSR begins with the revival of interest in the party and state elite for applied empirical information. This happened after the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party, when elites split into pragmatists and conservatives. Since the early 1960s a public sociological movement materialized in the USSR by establishing sociological laboratories at universities. The most important part in achieving a new consensus regarding understanding of subject and functions of sociology was played by new exegesis of the Lenin’s philosophical texts done by P.V. Kopnin. This scholar presented Marxist philosophy as an open theoretical system, capable of development in accordance with needs of the moment and dialogically open to other philosophical fields. The intrascientific consensus rested on the concept of a three-level structure of Marxist sociology. Mathematization of the discipline was taking place, paving way for a new method of theorizing.

Lenin’s stage in the development of Marxist philosophy; Marxist philosophy; exegesis; P.V. Kopnin; historical materialism; empirical research; statistics; mathematization of sociology


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Content No 5, 2020