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«January 2020»

Tradition and Dissidence in East European Social Science: A Study in Oral History

This project sets out to study life courses of social scientists from post-socialist East European countries through a series of narrative interviews in order to explain variations in their compliance with the socialist regimes and their democratic successor states. Emphasis will be laid on sociologists, ethnographers, and economists of sufficient age to have had professional experience during and after the socialist period. The approach has the potential to counter several prominent misconceptions in the historiography of the social sciences under real socialism. In particular, accounts treating the entire ‘Eastern bloc’ as an monolithic entity, in which repressive state apparatuses controlled most or all activities of social scientists can be complemented through highlighting the varying degrees of agency of social scientists in different historical contexts. Focusing on the relation between sociological traditions and dissidence among social scientists I want to show the importance of different historical trajectories of personal careers and the disciplines in order to explain different relations to the Communist regimes. Bulgarian social scientists serve as case study. The empirical and theoretical insights gained through this study will later be compared to that of other real socialist countries.

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