Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Anastasiya Ryabchuk on Class Analysis in Ukraine

Anastasiya Ryabchuk (2015) 'Handicapped Class Analysis in Post-Soviet Ukraine, and a Push for Revision', East European Politics & Societies 29, pp. 685-697.

Abstract: Class analysis has never gone out of fashion in Ukraine, but it has been conducted in ways that limit its effectiveness and ability to make sense of the world. It is marked by four aspects inherited from Soviet times: a focus on large-scale surveys offering only surface presentations of findings, a gradational rather than relational orientation to class, unwillingness to engage with subjective experiences of class, and a tendency towards functional legitimation of the existing order. Data showing significant transformation of social structure and high levels of inequality tend to be presented with little consideration of its meaning for people’s lives. The absence of serious theoretical reflection, deep ethnographic analysis, or studies of class relations and power constitute significant handicaps for Ukrainian sociology. A recently created group of young sociologists gathered around the journal and website Commons/Spilne has been seeking to overcome these limitations. Embracing “public sociology’s” aim of producing reflexive knowledge for academic and non-academic audiences alike, this new milieu, with its creators trained in western universities and engaged with Marxist social science and left-wing politics, has explored topics such as changing relations in work, the informal economy, independent unions, labor mobilization, and ethnographic study of workers’ life-worlds. Pressing work still needs to be done on the oligarchical business class, middle-class activists, class politics across regions, and the Maidan events of 2014 and the conflicts and violence that have followed.