Anele Vosyliūtė. Sociology of the town: historical aspect. (93.-97.lpp.)

Valters Grīviņš, 25.08.2014


Sociology of the town: historical aspect

The investigation of different features of the space (towns, villages, cities) have old tradition in sociology (the works of R.Park, M.Weber, G.Simmel, O.Spengler, L.Wirt and o.). The interest in the social problems of the Lithuanian towns was characteristic yet for the pre-war social thinkers, such as A.Maceina [1], P.Leonas [2], K.Paltarokas [3]. Sociology was in some aspect as an intellectual expression and the answer to the social challenges. Some of sociologists were very universal - activists of the national movements, cultural workers, historians, publicists, fiction- writers. The object of their sociological reflections was related with the problems of the economical, social and political situation of the nation, the searching and discussing of ways on solution social (urban, agrarian, cultural, educational) reforms of new state. Sociologists were discussing and interpreting the issues of society using the concepts of Comte, Marx, Spencer, Darwin, Morgan, as well as others. Sociology in that time was related with the social movements, as a branch of science appeared in Kaunas University and at the Theological Seminary; a tradition of empirical sociological research was lacking. The social issues related to the stratification of society, the formation of a civilized man, social rightness, the reflections about the improvement of life quality were as key problems of social scientists.

Because in that period Lithuania was an agricultural country (in towns lived only 23 % of inhabitants), the rural issues were reflected and analysed as the background of state modernity perspective; urban problems were related to the formation of a new society and the beginning of the industrial period of the state. Urban life according to A.Maceina [1] is identified with the development of the capitalistic way of life, for which the mass production, competition in sails, disintegration of traditions and religion, the appearance in the towns of the poor is characteristic. Most of Lithuanian intellectuals and sociologists made in their works a critical evaluation of capitalism and socialism ideas and doctrines; they were searching for the third, middle ('the happy medium') way for the development of the society. The search of a 'good' society (in material sense coincided with the vision of the “good” life for the masses and spiritual sense) was characteristic for their social ideas.

After the WWII sociological researches began in Kaunas Politechnical Institute (since 1966), in Department of Philosophy, Sociology and Law of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciencies (Institute since 1977). Sociological investigations were directed towards the social problems of socialist production (mostly in industrial enterprises) and socialist way of life. The first sociological researches were tasks commissioned by the largest manufacturing enterprises from Vilnius, Kaunas, Šiauliai, Alytus, Panevėžys, Marijampolė, etc. At that time factories and enterprises were tackling the social, legal organizational problems of production management, working out plans of social development for the collectives and towns. As A.Čiužas noted [4], sociological urban research appeared as a response to the demands of social and urban planning of the environment, and in order to facilitate improvement of social and economic development in the cities and regions of Lithuania. The works were devoted to different cities and towns as Vilnius, Šiauliai [5] Marijampolė, Palanga, Neringa, Druskininkai [6] which goal was the creation of social development's plans for the collectives and towns.

In Independent Lithuania brought radical changes to the environment of social sciences thought and its paradigms. The new structures and features of society demanded the change of sociological research methodology and the rethinking of the subject matter of the sociological investigations.

The decline of socialist paradigma hegemony had been changed in sociology by a period beeing in search of new transitional theories, diverse and contested models of understanding. Now we can notice theoretical eclecticism, pluralism and competition - this is a normal situation; we think that increasing pluralism of discipline not might lead to the disintegration, it is only the problem of each other understanding.The maintenance of disciplinary coherence is related with the recognition and integration of diverse and contested models of understanding and intellectual approaches. The relations and contacts of scientific community with representatives of different branches of Western sociology, their active participation in the sociological practice ensure the growth of discipline; these contacts became a positive factor for appropriation of the new elements of methodological base.

The national rebirth and independency, the reformation of social and cultural structures in Lithuania include the change of the behavioural models, meanings of people, growing plurality in the everyday life of towns. The urban landscape is the scene of people expression, experiences and discourses. The new division of space is connected with its changing functions, with the appearance of new signs in the landscape. The physical environment can be used as a strategy for regulating the people behaviour and for their new identifications, attitudes. Using the case study method the ethnographers, sociologists, historians in local socio-ethnographical monographs (“Žiobiškis” 2000, “Veliuona” 2001, “Lygumai. Stačiūnai” 2001, “Raguva” 2001, “Musninkai. Kernavė”2002) examine in their papers the evaluation of features of small towns, the attitudes of people to culture, about the physical environment, social memory of the people and the social life.

The new perspectives of sociologists are related with the revealing of new aspects of the investigation on the history of Lithuanian sociology. The analysis of the main features of sociological monography and its history shows that monographic approach has its deep roots in the heritage of Lithuanian sociology. This approach is related with the use of the case studies and ethnographic method. The Lithuanian historians and folklorists have initiated regional investigations into social life, customs, and material culture since the XVIIth. In the ethnographical descriptions of localities made by O.Kolbergas, T.Narbutas, S.Daukantas we can see the first features of the monographic approach. The social monographies as model of the European sociology tradition were written in the XXth. The economist, professor of Vilnius University Vitoldas Stanevičius (1888-1956) was the continuater of the works of Polish rural sociologist Frantiszek Bujak (1875-1953), social monographies about Žmiaca, Maszkienice, Limanova and Galicja localities). V.Stanevičius wrote the work about the Lithuanian village Matuizos Balandiškiai (Vilnius,1923), which was grounded on participant observation, the data of questionnaires, statistical material of locality. This monography provides a description, classification and inventory of the nature and social objects in space. The history of place set of relations and forms of life are the main elements of the social monography. The social space is the construction and outcome of the different processes, the result and product of social activities.

The results of the research offer the opportunity to reflect the contemporary situation of Lithuanian towns, the preferences and choices of their inhabitants in the transitional period. The renewed interest in localities coincides with the rebirth of the national sovereignty and with the tendencies to the decentralisation of life, new distribution of social power in the post-modern period. In social praxis the written texts about villages and towns stimulate the people identification with these places, increase the rebirth of the national memory, stimulate the understanding of the village or town as the place of an authenticity. Such investigation shows the old tradition of the relation among social, humanitarian sciences and geography, which existed and now is revealing in Lithuania too.

Since 1990 new works on urban sociology were appeared: social monographs about Kaunas (1995, ed. by E.Krukauskienė, 7), Vilnius and Kaunas (1997, ed. by E.Krukauskienė, 8).If in soviet time sociological urban research were as a response to the demands of social and urban planning of the environment; the purpose of such research was to facilitate improvement of social and economic development in the cities and regions. Since 1990 the urban sociology's authors were more concentrated on the investigations of the way of life of the population, on the reorganisation of the old social structures, on social memory, the relationship between the different ethnic groups, social mobility, cultural attitudes and values. Social and philosophical aspects of national awareness in the conditions of restored democracy have been investigated, the analysis of ethno social cultural environment and social behaviour in cities revealed.

The national rebirth and independency, the reformation of social and cultural structures in Lithuania include the change of the behavioural models, meanings of people, growing plurality in the everyday life of towns. The urban landscape is the scene of people expression, experience and discourse. The physical environment can be used as a strategy for regulating the people behaviour. The positive relationship with the space of cities plays a role in the development and the sustenance of mental health, in the evolution and shaping of self. The reformation of social and cultural structures in Lithuania included the change in the space division. We can see that distinct functional zones of space are using for industry, production of market (post-modern shopping malls) and commodities, universal cultural means, communication, travel and s. o. As noted M.Lefebvre the space is always socially constructed.

In post-modern sociology the terms like “locality”, “landscapes”, “places” are very frequent in both empirical and methodological study. The very acceleration in the flows of people, the physical movements, the tendencies in to globalisation has brought place in to focus of investigation. The mobility and travelling constitutes the most typical features of modernity; it is especially characteristic of modern social theorizing. Acording to Z. Bauman, “stranger hood” and “homelessness” are as core emblem of post-modern times. Modern man (especially intellectual) as noted J.Shotter is suffering from a deepened condition of homelessness, from a “metaphysical loss of home”, which correlates to the “migratory” character of modern experiences of society and self.

With the Independence of Lithuania the process of people mobility, the liberation of exchanges, images and information is increasing. The freedom of mobility, the possibility for the people to be in the situation 'without frontiers borders' is becoming the value, which is associated which the Independency of the country (because the soviet period was characterized by prohibition to move to the foreign lands). The possibility to visit Western countries means for people is a significant contested value and the indicator of social stratification. The tendency to think of the world as a coherent place, whole-earth, where the contours of place seem to be in flux. In the contemporary sociology of space (of town) the authors reveal the evaluation of some problems, the way of life and images of the native and European cities [9].

In the investigation of cities sociologists reveal the different meanings of places: f.e. the risk of Ignalina Nuclear power station. From the one side it represents the scientific progress, technological achievement, from another side - its functioning poses threat for the population and environment. In the young generation opinion are reflected the attachment to the native town, the belief in its excellent future, but the danger, catastrophic feelings about possible accidents too. The Nuclear Power Station is the social symbol, which represents the technological and ideological power of the former Soviet Union. This symbol embodies the economical and military domination in that period, reveals the change of the earth meanings in the consciousness of people in relation with the threat [10].


1. Maceina A. Socialinis teisingumas.- Kaunas, 1938.

2. Leonas P. Sociologijos paskaitos.- Kaunas, 1939.

3. Paltarokas K. Socialinis klausimas.- Kaunas, 1921.

4. Čiužas A. Miestų socialinės raidos tyrimai // Iš lietuvos sociologijos istorijos / Ats. red. A. Vosyliūtė.- Vilnius, 1999.- Kn. 2.

5. Šiaulių miesto socialinė raida.- Vilnius, 1980.

6. Druskininkai: socialinė ir ekologinė raida.- Vilnius, 1985.

7. Kauniečio portretas / Red. E.Krukauskienė.- Vilnius, 1998.

8. Krukauskienė E. Miestiečiai.- Vilnius, 1997

9. A.Vosyliūtė. Lietuva ir Europa: miestų vizijos // Europos keliu / Red. E.Krukauskienė.- Vilnius, 2000.- P. 108-136.

10. Vosyliūtė A. Visagino miesto vaizdiniai: realijos ir vizijos // Ignalinos AE: mogus ir aplinka / Red. A.Čiužas.- Vilnius, 1998.- P.193-204.


Pilsētas socioloģija: vēsturiskais aspekts

Socioloģijā pastāv stabilas tradīcijas teritoriālo vienību (pilsētu, sādžu) izpētē. pirmajā pusē Lietuvas sociālie filozofi un socioloģi (A.Maceina, P.Leonas, K.Paltarokas) analizēja pilsētu tapšanu kā parādību, kas cieši saistīta ar kapitālisma attīstību; pilsēta un lauki identificējās ar atšķirīgu dzīvessveidu, pilsēta - ar svešām etniskām tradīcijam un vērtībām.

Pēc kara socioloģiskie pētījumi atsevišķās vietās (Viļņā, Šauļos, Kapsukasā, Druskininkos, Palangā) bija saistīti ar sociālās plānošanas problēmām. Lai tās risinātu, tika pētīti darba kolektīvu un sociālo institūtu dažādi dzīves aspekti.

Neatkarīgajā Lietuvā tika pārveidota sociālo zinātņu metodoloģija, integrējot tajā Rietumu sociālās teorijas un paradigmas. Sociālās telpas transformācijas, cilvēku mobilitātes pieaugums piešķir vietām jauno sociālo un kultūras semantiku (saistītu ar vēsturisko atmiņu, risku, tūrismu u.c.), kas prasa sociologu uzmanību.