From 'truth in strength to strength in truth': sociology, knowledge and power in Kyrgyzstan, 1966-2003

Amsler, Sarah (2005) From 'truth in strength to strength in truth': sociology, knowledge and power in Kyrgyzstan, 1966-2003. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Abstract

This doctoral thesis emerged from the in-depth study of the politics of social scientific knowledge in Kyrgyzstan and its relationship to political economies and social imaginaries from the Soviet to the early post-Soviet periods.

LONG SUMMARY This dissertation is a study in the critical sociology of social scientific knowledge. It explores the construction of sociology as a field of knowledge, academic discipline and professional practice in Kyrgyzstan (formerly the Kirgiz Soviet Socialist Republic) from 1966 to 2003, focusing on the late- and post-socialist project to transform sociology from a heteronomous field of knowledge and practice into an autonomous one. It analyses both historically and through contemporary case studies how the dialectical relationship between social scientific knowledge and socio-political power has shaped successive efforts to institutionalise sociology in Kyrgyzstan, why particular varieties of sociological theorising and research have emerged within contemporary Kyrgyzstani sociology, and what implications this has for sociology’s role in society. By demonstrating how Kyrgyzstani sociologists have employed ‘boundary–work’ in their efforts to institutionalise the discipline, this dissertation reveals the localised processes by which sociology actually became identified with scientific politics and integrated into the exercise of political power during both the both Soviet and post-Soviet periods. Based on the case study results, it argues that while many obstacles to the institutionalisation of the discipline as an autonomous field of knowledge and practice are created by structural constraints, they are also the result of non-material factors, particularly the ways in which the nature and role of sociology, as well as the meaning of its reform or ‘transition,’ have been conceptualised and articulated by Kyrgyzstani sociologists themselves. Finally, it reveals fundamental contradictions in the overall institutionalisation project, specifically, the simultaneous pursuit of competing goals to separate the production of sociological knowledge from the logic of political power in order to establish scientific legitimacy, and associate its application with the logic of power to promote the discipline’s social relevance. The dissertation concludes that while in combination both projects may open possibilities for sociology to become a truly radical and practical profession in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, this can only be achieved if Kyrgyzstani sociologists reconsider the philosophies of scientific knowledge with which they operate, and if inequalities in the structural conditions and organisation of sociology in the republic are redressed.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Keywords:Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, post-socialist, sociology of knowledge, higher education, boundary work
Subjects:L Social studies > L243 Politics of a specific country/region
L Social studies > L990 Social studies not elsewhere classified
X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
ID Code:5476
Deposited By: Sarah Amsler
Deposited On:08 May 2012 16:03
Last Modified:16 Apr 2014 08:28

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