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Summary - Идентичность: Личность, общество, политика. Энциклопедическое издание

The research presented in this volume focuses on the concept of identity, its genesis, and on discourse and identity construction in social sciences and the humanities and includes several levels of analysis. The theoretical and methodological level is devoted to examining the concept of identity and the approaches to interpreting it (Part One). The main trends of the socio-political changes underway in contemporary societies are examined in the context of identity transformations. These include general trends (Part Two) and transformations taking place in different parts of a globalizing world and in differing cultural contexts (Part Three). An extensive dictionary section (Part Four) contains a collection of key concepts, while a biography section (Part Five) describes the ideas and approaches of scholars who have played a notable role in advancing identity studies. The experience gained in the empirical analysis of identity is presented in the book’s final section (Part Six). A cognitive map of the terms and concepts used in academic discourse is assembled from the results of this analysis (Part Seven). The Book opens with an overview of the field of identity studies and an assessment of its cognitive potential in analyzing the socio-political changes of today (the section Identity: Concepts, Methodology, and Fields of Study). The methodological problems associated with using the concept of identity in the social sciences, especially in political analysis, are examined in detail. A case is made for a research agenda taking in a variety of approaches and stimulating the development of the individual and society that correspond to contemporary challenges. These, the authors argue, mean advancing along the path of “responsible development” and responding to the ethical challenges people are facing today and will be facing in the foreseeable future. The key questions raised by the authors concern the features of individual identity that could support a development potential. In particular, identity analysis contributes to understanding how we decide between one line of social development and another. Of fundamental importance in building academic discourse is the relation of this subjective analytical category to social practices in the context of identity politics. How far is “the highly contentious concept” of identity (to use the description of Zygmunt Bauman) from the risks of its reification as a target of criticism and admonitions?

Today, however, the significance of the concept of identity in comprehending the subjective domain of politics is difficult to dispute. Juxtaposing this concept with similar analytical categories of academic discourse on the subjective factors of social change (political consciousness, political culture, mentality, archetypes etc.), the authors conclude that it has come to play a key role in the social sciences and the humanities. At the same time, the need to coordinate research efforts in different areas of knowledge in social studies and the humanities is obvious. It is therefore imperative that we develop common approaches to our understanding of identity and common principles of studying identity, based on combining the possibilities of different approaches and means of analysis. By comprehending the subjective components of socio-political processes through the conceptualization of identity, we can achieve a cumulative effect in explaining and forecasting trends of social development.

The second section (Identity and Socio-political Change) is devoted to analyzing the social and political changes now taking place in contemporary societies. The analysis is based on the cognitive potential of the identity approach. The study demonstrates its possibilities in comprehending latent processes on the level of an individual’s preferences dictated by culture, values, beliefs, and living conditions. Such processes are frequently hidden under a cloak of institutional order that outwardly changes little. As the authors show, the reality of cultural diversity and the cleavages and disparities present in contemporary societies introduce major corrections to identity politics, and this means finding new instruments of social management and new ways of individual involvement both in politics and in policy implementation.

At the center of attention are the dynamics and structural complexity of an individual’s identity orientations, including his hypostasis as Homo politicus. There is considerable unevenness in the development of today’s global community in both the dynamics of identity and in social dynamics, and the growing diversity of rival variants of identity orientations and institutional forms of socio-political life now appear to create greater challenges to the integrity of human personality.

The revealed changes in mass and individual consciousness described in identity categories exert an indirect and increasingly marked influence on the trajectories of development of large communities. In the third section (Civilizational, Political, Social and Cultural Aspects of Identity: Past and Present), the socio-cultural, value-oriented, political, and institutional features inherent to such cultural and civilizational communities are analyzed in light of new turns in civilizational theory. It is shown that in the modern age of globalization and regionalization of socio-cultural processes in these communities, changes in identities substantially influence domestic and international politics, economics, social spheres, and the nature and functioning of political institutions, and are, in turn, strongly influenced by these transformations. These include people’s perceptions of the role their national (and other) communities in the world order. The main trends in the dynamics of Russian, European, North American, Latin American, Chinese, Indian, and Muslim identities are identified and described. Special attention is given to the factors and contradictions of emerging cosmopolitan identities.

The fourth section (Identity in the Social Sciences: A Dictionary of Terms and Concepts) brings forward a wide range of concepts present in academic discourse that are vital to conceptualizing identity. Key concepts describing forms, types, and levels of identity, along with the structure of individual identity and the dynamics of collective identities, are analyzed in the dictionary’s ten chapters. The dictionary is laid out according to the general logic of an encyclopedic work. A survey of debates over the considered concept is presented, a definition corresponding to it is formulated and subjected to analysis, and its cognitive possibilities are discussed and illustrated using socially and politically relevant examples.

Different aspects of the complicated and dynamic phenomenon of identity are examined, these include socio-cultural, political (domestic and international), nationalist, ethnopolitical, and spatial and territorial dimensions. They are also considered in the context of the social stratification modern societies are experiencing and the social roles that are important to today’s individual. The special attention devoted to political discourse and the practices of identity building is due to the need to give an argumentative representation of the ideas and thoughts that shape identity politics, the techniques of identity construction, and the processes and contexts of their transformation in the world of today.

The separation of individual and collective (group) identities for the purpose of scientific analysis and simultaneous comparison places the individual (Self) at the center of research and determines the orientations of his self-identification and the foundations of his political identity. The analysis concentrates on the problems of studying identity now facing political science. These have to do with the need to extend the framework in which the subjective domain of politics is studied today.

The fifth section (Identity and Identities: Who’s Who in Shaping the Field of Study) is arranged as a bio-bibliographic dictionary. Brief academic biographies of researchers who at different times studied identity, and of others who made a significant contribution to establishing the lines of today’s field of studies—a grand total of 42 scholars—are supplemented by lists of their main works of importance to the topic of identity. The biographical focus allows to refine the logic of academic debate; the bibliographic, to present its range and main turning points; and together they help to understand how the foundations of today’s identity studies was laid and what the future agenda of identity research has in store.

The sixth section (The Community of Political Scientists: Aspects of Professional Identity) presents a theoretical analysis of the elements of belonging to the community of political scientists and modern approaches to the problems of political professionalization. The aim of the empirical part of the study presented in the last chapter was to chart the establishing of professional identity among Russian political researchers. A summary of the data from 25 in-depth interviews given by members of the community of political scientists from universities and academic institutions in different regions of Russia allowed to identify characteristics specific to the Russian political science community and to see the problems common to the profession. The results of the study are interpreted in the context of comparative analysis, and common problems and challenges now facing the political science profession that influence the formation of professional identity are also discussed.

The book ends with a cognitive map of terms and concepts shaping the field of identity studies in the social sciences (Part Seven, Identity Discourse: A Cognitive Map).

For the last decade identity studies have been an important field of research at the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO). IMEMO has focused on studying identity as a resource for social development and as a key notion for forecasting transformations in the world of tomorrow. Scholars from IMEMO proposed the outline of this research project and its coordination. Taking part in the research were also leading scholars from academic institutions and university centers across Russia – Moscow, St Petersburg, Perm, Krasnodar, Ekaterinburg, Barnaul, Nalchik, Stavropol. The chapter on European identity is a contribution from our colleague professor Maurizio Cotta, University of Siena, Italy.

This encyclopedia is addressed to researchers, experts, teachers, and studentsworking in the fields of identity studies, comparative politics and political theory. The authors hope this book will contribute to shaping the research agenda of identity studies and to bridging the gaps between different areas of research in the social sciences.

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