Social Sciences and Global Turbulence: Rebooting the Mainstream

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-1-100-113
V. Mart'yanov (,
Institute of Philosophy and Law, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 16, S. Kovalevskoi Str., Ekaterinburg, 620137, Russian Federation;
L. Fishman (,
Institute of Philosophy and Law, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 16, S. Kovalevskoi Str., Ekaterinburg, 620137, Russian Federation

Acknowledgements. The article has been supported by a grant of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and the Expert Institute of Social Research (“”). Project no. 20-011-31025 “Alternatives to Political Mainstream amidst the Crisis of the Global World Order”.

Abstract. After the collapse of the bipolar world, the neoliberal mainstream emerged in the global hierarchy of social sciences, built on three axiomatic pillars: Western domination, capitalism (free market) and liberalism (the value of individual autonomy). Nowadays, one can more and more often witness criticism and disintegration of the mainstream, which claimed the universality of descriptions and legitimation of modern societies that have reached the end of history in the form of open-access liberal market democracies. The purpose of the article is to find out how transformations of the prevailing political and economic orders, configurations of the subjects of geopolitical dominance and their legitimate metaphors determine the direction of changes in the social sciences mainstream. The hypothesis of the research is that the prevailing principles of stratification and distribution of public resources will be less and less valuable and institutionally related to capitalism, market and democracy, since an appeal to the latter does not lead to an increase in the available opportunities for the majority of the population in practice. The global change in social ontology, the structure of economic reproduction and legitimate foundations of the political order bring about a drop in the credibility and relevance of mainstream concepts focused on the axiomatics of market values and liberal rhetoric. Intellectual attempts to restore the relevance of the neoliberal mainstream through the construction of local utopias (flat world, creative class, knowledge economy, etc.), the introduction of complementary concepts of civil repair (J. Alexander), sociocultural trauma (P. Shtompka), unworthy government (bad governance), dependence on previous development (path dependence) or gauge (N. Rozov) do not save from growing conceptual stretch. Formation of a society without tangible economic growth and a declining need for mass labor leads to the inevitable transformation of the mainstream. Alternative and peripheral theories that describe the contours of a global future mainly in non-market, non-capitalist and, possibly, non-liberal categories are becoming more influential. These are concepts that fix new formats for the distribution of public resources, less and less connected with the market, democracy and hegemony of the West, but increasingly – with rental mechanisms, distributive political regulation and differentiated value of different social groups for the national state.

Keywords: social sciences, mainstream, metaphor, alternative, crisis of legitimation, center-periphery, rent, rental society, social ontology, social stratification


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For citation:
Mart'yanov V., Fishman L. Social Sciences and Global Turbulence: Rebooting the Mainstream. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 1, pp. 100-113.

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