The Russian-Ukrainian war: theory and practice of sociological understanding

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The article focuses on the main problematic issues in the formation of sociological discourse regarding the Russian-Ukrainian war. Attempts have been made to provide scientific answers to new challenges related to war, which appear much more slowly compared to media ones. The opinion that the issue of war becomes relevant only when a real war appears, and not its potential threat, is substantiated. It is outlined that war in world history is the norm, peace is rather an exception. It was determined that the fragile nature of peace and the constant military threat from Russia (now and in the future) poses the task of preventive and permanent, on a systematic basis, their research and analysis. A conceptual scheme for distinguishing two branches of sociological knowledge regarding military issues in the form of the sociology of war and the sociology of the army is proposed. Adaptation of N.J. Smelser’s four-level model of sociological analysis to the study of war and the army according to two criteria was carried out. It is argued that these four levels require their specification both theoretically and in selecting appropriate methods of empirical studies of the problems of war in general and the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war. A generalized table of empirical studies implemented by the country’s leading sociological centres since the beginning of the acute phase of Russian aggression is presented, with the conclusion of a significant predominance of the macro level of their implementation and the dominant use of quantitative methods. Subjects of scientific research on the other three levels of sociological analysis are proposed. Examples of international research projects by the YouGov company regarding assessing the level of assistance to Ukrainian refugees are given. The results of research conducted in Ukraine and Russia in parallel are presented, as it makes it possible to analyse the mirroring of the situation both in Ukraine and in the society of the aggressor country. It was found that the majority of studies carried out in Ukraine during a large-scale war reveal only certain aspects of modern war and the army (assessment of the level of trust in the armed forces, support for the president’s actions, citizens’ readiness to defend the Motherland, foreign policy orientations, social adaptation of the population, the level of their stress resistance etc.), which currently does not allow for the formation of a coherent architecture of sociological knowledge in the outlined stream. Based on research carried out during Russia’s large-scale aggression in Ukraine, the main thematic blocks have been identified, and their importance in the foundations of the sociology of war and the sociology of the army has been revealed. It is concluded that war is a complicated phenomenon for its professional understanding in sociology in the situation of its multi-paradigmity, therefore, the existing developments require professional discussion and effective discussions.

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