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Volume 32, 2000, No. 6, pp. 505-616

The Circumstances of the Development of Sociology in Central European Countries – Slovak Sociology in the 20th Century

Ľudovít Turčan
The Institute for Sociology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava

The Circumstances of the Development of Sociology in Central European Countries – Slovak Sociology in the 20th Century. Minor sociologies, or sociologies in small countries of Central-Eastern Europe came through a complex development in the 20th century. The main factors for this development were significantly unstable circumstances. The periods of continuous development were mixed with periods of discontinuity with a general features of rupture-that is why they usually started the entire process from the beginning again. This is why it is very difficult to assess the general qualities of individual periods and why it is necessary to be very careful when describing its assets. In many spheres of life, e.g. in science, there were some segments more severely affected by these circumstances (such as sociology). It is therefore useful to have a close look at how, despite the adverse conditions, such personalities were formed whose importance overcame the limitations of their period. If they became victims of political power, it is then more interesting to examine their work affected by absurd constructions tragically determining their lives. A. Hirner is such a person in Slovak sociology. His work has remained-because of above reasons-unknown to Slovak public, not even mentioning the foreign professional public. However, he was a distinct sociologist who was knowledgeable of theoretical and methodological issues, he was an outstanding teacher and his large empirical researches were felt to be prototypes.

Sociológia 2000 Vol 32 (No. 6: 507-520)

Alexander Hirner on Social System Problems

Juraj Schenk
Department of Sociology, Comenius University, Bratislava

Alexander Hirner on Social System Problems. The paper deals with the key theoretical and methodological principles of Alexander Hirner’s sociology. The analysis focuses on his concept of sociology as a study of social reality. Presented are not only basic ontological and epistemological assumptions but also components of Hirner’s specific sociological optics. The reader witnesses the inner development of this thinking as he is reminded of the humanistic mission of Hirner’s sociology.

Hirner’s model of social system is reconstructed with respect to its 12 basic elements. The fundamental differences between systems of social variables and social systems are explained. Finally, his theory of an autokinetic social system is examined paying special attention to its theoretical and humanistic effect. The review of Hirner’s theoretical approach is complemented by the set of concrete illustrations originating from his own researches of diverse social systems (village, region, factory, personality) and social processes, such as system-forming processes (e.g., sociability), self-regulational processes (e.g., social control) and self-organizational processes (e.g., personality potentials).

Sociológia 2000, Vol. 32 (No. 6: 521-538)

Reception of Nation and National Dynamics in the Work of Alexander Hirner

Eva Laiferová
Department of Sociology, Comenius University, Bratislava

Reception of Nation and National Dynamics in the Work of Alexander Hirner. The study takes a closer look at the historical issues, related to the personality of a leading Slovak sociologist, Alexander Hirner. The subject of the research is the expression of a nation and national dynamics, that are indivisible parts of a broad sociological program of mentioned author. The first part of a study is dedicated to the analysis of nation as a sociological and personal challenge, where is pointed at Hirner’s interest of given issues in his personal and scientific dimension related to key life events related to historical facts of Slovak nation. The primary path of Hirner’s project is the analysis of a vital cycle of a national life, what is divided in the text into 2 parts. They are tracking down the evolution of Hirner’s consideration of genesis of his own nation, his structural parts and dynamics. The conception of a nation as a vital whole is a reflection of primary methodological approaches to the problem of a nation, for which took Hirner inspirations in the works of Slovak rationalism enlightenment representatives, particularly Ján Feješ. Methodological approach of Hirner was formed at the beginning under the influence of discursion with neoorganicists, critics of voluntaristic approaches, with the accent on the need of humanistic dimension. The accent is given to the vitalism as the attribute of genesis of national life. The difficulties with the definition of a nation as a sociological category are also shown, and also the relationship of an individual and national collectivity is emphasized. Hirner consequently forms his conception to the comprehending of a nation as a global social system, that is evolving under the influence of natural law. The methodological source is the application of system theory, with the accent to the self-regulation attributes, complexity, hierarchisation, determination of structural and functional components. In a context of large cultural movement is understood the mechanism of preserving the national specifics under the conditions of threat by the power usurpation and its political-philosophical warrant. The study works with the materials of A. Hirner to get closer at least the part of sociological heritage of the author not anymore alive, whose work time did no harm.

Sociológia 2000 Vol 32 (No. 6: 539-554)

Alexander Hirner – A Historian of Slovak Sociology

Robert Klobucký
The Institute for Sociology, Slovak Academy of sciences, Bratislava

Alexander Hirner – A Historian of Slovak Sociology. The paper focuses descriptively and analytically on the historiographical works of Alexander Hirner. The emphasis is on his works from the history of sociology in Slovakia. The paper divides the historiographical work of Alexander Hirner into three chronological chapters and one analytical chapter. The first chapter deals with Hirner's work in the 40s and, particularly, with his concept of the autonomy of Slovak history that was inspired by philosophy of vitalism. The second chapter aims at the description and the analytical evaluation of that period contest with the official Marxist historiography, that Hirner leaded in the 50s. Hirner did not agree with the Marxist simplifying concept of history that reduced the history to the monolinear change of social-economic formations. In contrary, Hirner advocated a more complex and less ideological study of the history. The third chapter mainly analyses Hirner's crucial work from the domain of the sociological history - the monograph “Czechoslovak Sociology till the 1948”. In this work, Hirner elaborated an original theoretical model for the historiographical study of sociology that can be universally applied as the basic framework for the analysis of the history of sociology. The last chapter of the paper analyses Hirner's concept of the meaning of the history. It suggests that Hirner perceived the meaning and progress of history, first of all, in the gradual national emancipation that should be interrelated with humanism, freedom and democracy. In the history of sociology, he considers a continually increasing unity of theory and empirical research to be the essential indicator of its scientific progress.

Sociológia 2000 Vol 32 (No. 6: 555-576)

The Issue of Social Differentiation in the Work of Alexander Hirner

Silvia Heřmanová
Department of Sociology, Comenius University, Bratislava

The Issue of Social Differentiation in the Work of Alexander Hirner. The article presents the contribution of A. Hirner to the elaboration of the issue in the Slovak sociology. Hirner’s original contribution is the term agent of the differentiation and the fact, that he studied this issue intentionally also as the researcher. His methodological approach it changed, we can distinguish two periods within his whole creative period, which differ in many aspects. In the time line, we can mark 40. years of 20th century as the first period and the second one since sixties until Hirner’s death. The first period, determinable as 40. years of 20th century, is influenced mainly by neoorganicism, but one can already found some components of the later theory of system there. During this period he published particular studies about the issue, in which he focussed on particular agents of the social differentiation, such as religion, age, share on the power, sociability, spatial distinction etc. The second period production is correlated with the system approach. His core work is the monograph Diferenciácia a ustaľovanie jej výsledkov. (Differentiation and Settlement of Its Results) (1946), where he defines the social differentiation as the social phenomena and the special attribute characterizing evolution of social units. The definition of the term differentiation is based on the application of the principle of the complementarity of the subjective and the objective. The work of the second period is based on the system approach. A. Hirner contributed importantly to the modernization of the Slovak sociological thinking in the Slovakia in the first half of the 20th century, mainly by using professional terminology and scientific style of writing, consistent adhering and elaboration of methodological procedures and their application. Such elaboration of the social differentiation is outstanding in the Slovak sociology of the 1st half of 20th century.

Sociológia 2000 Vol 32 (No. 6: 577-592)