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Session Overview
RN36_01a_P: Social Transformations Studies
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Marju Lauristin, University of Tartu
Session Chair: Peeter Vihalemm, University of Tartu
Location: PE.6.41
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: E, Level: 6.

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Understanding social transformations through measuring functional differentiation

Matej Makarovic

School of Advanced Social Studies (SASS/FUDŠ), Slovenia

Functional differentiation of societies in (semi)autonomous subsystems as a trend of modern social transformations has a long history in sociological thought – not only ranging from H. Spencer and T. Parsons to N. Luhmann but also including comparable insights based on different concepts, such as life orders or social fields. Post-communist paths of Central and Eastern European societies can be assessed in terms of functional differentiation as a process of increasing autonomy of functional subsystems. Particularly the functional differentiation from political (as autonomy from political interference) and from economic subsystem (as autonomy from capitalist market principles) are relevant in this regard. However, theories dealing with functional differentiation have often suffered from certain shortcomings. One is the lack of clearer relationships with other types of social differentiation, such as stratification/inequality, and with segmental divisions, based on ethnicity or nation. Another, and even more important one, is the lack of clear operationalisation for the purposes of empirical research and testing the basic theoretical assumptions. Based on series of indices, we develop indicators to measure functional differentiation (as autonomy of selected functional subsystems) from politics and from economy, and test them in comparative perspective with the emphasis on post-communist Central and Eastern European countries.

Europeans' Values: Peak Secularization (?), Persisting Materialism, Lack of Convergence

Zoltan Lakatos

Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary

An influential research paradigm going back to Ronald Inglehart's postmaterialism thesis and more recently expounded by Christian Welzel conceives of religion as part of a parochial worldview that also includes authoritarianism and thus inhibits human empowerment. Further, the thesis also claims that fading existential pressures drive societies toward a de-emphasis of materialism. Accordingly, measures produced by this school conflate certain aspects of authoritarianism with religiosity, and others with materialism, and describe the "rising force of emancipation" as going hand-in-hand with a retreat of these values.

Building on previous work using correspondence analysis, a non-linear method that clearly separates out religiosity, authoritarianism and materialism, I present an ecological analysis of recent data from the World Values Survey that contradict the Inglehart school on several points. First, there is no evidence of a continued secularization trend: in most European nations, religiosity has not significantly declined beyond the early 1980s level. Second, there is indeed a general retreat of authoritarianism, but -- against the predictions of the postmaterialism thesis -- it often goes together with a surge in religiosity, and this trend is not restricted to East European publics where religion is also a carrier of national identity in a postcommunist context. Third, the clear-cut positive association posited between materialism and per capita GDP is not borne out by the data: above-average materialism is more typical of affluent societies than it is of nations with high poverty rates. Finally, there is no convergence of East and West European nations in the space defined by these three values.

The postsocialist transformation of gender relations: the case of Croatia

Inga Tomic-Koludrovic1, Mirko Petric2, Ivan Puzek2, Zeljka Zdravkovic2

1Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Croatia, Croatia; 2University of Zadar

The starting point of the discussion is the implicit calling into question of the general notion of re-traditionalization of gender relations in the post-socialist period, presented in a recent analysis of the changes of attitudes and values of the inhabitants of Croatia between 1985 and 2010. Namely, in contrast with the usual narratives of re-traditionalization brought about by the end of the socialist gender regime, Sekulic (2012) concluded that "gender conservatism" was actually decreasing throughout the analyzed post-socialist period. In light of this conclusion, the paper attempts to disentangle various notions of gender regime change in Croatia during and after the post-socialist transition. Our interpretations are based on the primary data from nationally representative surveys carried out in 1999, 2005, and 2015. References are also made to qualitative research carried out in Croatia in 2015, as well as to selected results of research on gender relations in other post-Yugoslav countries. The theoretical background includes Walby's theorization of patriarchy and selected tenets of new modernization theories (Inglehart-Welzel, Norris, Touraine). The analysis suggests that the levels of public patriarchy in Croatia remained relatively low even in the crisis-ridden 2010s, while the levels of private patriarchy have fallen in relation to those recorded at the end of the 1990s. Following an attempt to describe the constituents of the post-socialist gender regime in Croatia, a tentative conclusion is that re-traditionalization pressures of the transition period have resulted in at best "partial acquisition of traditional values", in the same way as we have concluded before that the socialist period had resulted in a "non-linear modernization" and "a partial acquisition of modernization values" (Tomić-Koludrović, Petrić, Zdravković, 2015).

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