chapter  6
14 Pages

Social sciences in Central and Eastern Europe: Institutional landscapes AGNIESZKAWENNINGER

The year 1989 (respectively 1991 – dissolution of the Soviet Union) marks an upheaval in Central and Eastern Europe and stands for a radical change in such spheres as society, economy, politics and culture in this region. The years of transformation, characterised by the adjustment to Western models of the market and by the transition from what was essentially a one-party system to democracy, brought about far-reaching changes not only to post-socialist societies, but also to the Central and Eastern European research systems. This chapter explores the institutional settings of social sciences in Central

and Eastern Europe, drawing on data retrieved mainly from the GESIS SocioGuide database.1 The GESIS SocioGuide gives orientation in the social science structures and offers online information from all social science disciplines: profiles and descriptions of journals, institutions, scientific events and conferences, as well as information about networks and collections. Access to two main regions is offered: 1) sources in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other Western European and non-European countries (GESIS SocioGuide Germany and International); 2) sources in Eastern Europe (GESIS SocioGuide Eastern Europe). As far as the Eastern European resources are concerned, the database has been maintained since 1993. The majority of the institutions covered by the database relate to the higher education sector and to the academies of sciences. Approximately 3,000 scientific institutions can be found in the database. Substantial sources of information are utilisation of the internet, examination of source material and network contacts. The description of relevant social science institutions is hierarchically

structured and comprises also the smallest organisational units (i.e. chairs). It covers the following disciplines: sociology, methods in the social sciences, political science, social policy, social psychology, educational research, science of communication, demography, ethnology, historical social research, labour market and employment research, as well as from further interdisciplinary areas of the social sciences, such as research on women, research on leisure, social welfare, etc. The database offers a comprehensive, though surely not complete, and multi-faceted picture of the research landscape in Central and Eastern Europe. Due to the limitations of the database, this chapter does not present authoritative but instead tentative remarks on the development of the

Eastern European institutional landscape. It is a brief overview rather than a report guided by an analytical framework which, as such, would need to look into the institutional setting in a more systematic way, including, for example, case study perspectives as well as such issues as institutional mandates, governance and management, scales and structures, funding, staff, curricula, research priorities, etc. Considering the distribution of social science institutions as documented in

the GESIS SocioGuide database, one can say that the highest numbers can be found in East-Central Europe, especially in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, followed by big Eastern European countries as far as size and population are concerned, such as the Russian Federation and Ukraine. As opposed to this, a fairly weak frequency of social science institutions can be found in the countries of South-Eastern Europe, such as Albania or Macedonia and in Central Asia or Transcaucasus; however, in the latter case it is important to add that these countries are not in the focus of the database as the access to information is very limited in this problematic area of the post-Soviet space (see Figure 6.1).