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Culturology is a branch of social sciences specific to Eastern Europe that is concerned with the scientific understanding, description, analysis, and prediction of cultural activities and systems. The type of cultural studies regarding different social practices was therefore studied as an aspect of sociology, ethnology, and anthropology, and less as an aspect of culturology.
History of the term in Eastern Europe
The notion of culturology (Russian: Культурология, Ukrainian: Культурологія) in the Russian Empire may be traced to the late 19th and early 20th centuries and associated with Mikhail Bakhtin, Aleksei Losev, Sergey Averintsev, Georgy Gachev, Yuri Lotman, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Vladimir Toporov, and others. During the Stalinist era this kind of research was superseded by Marxist social studies. Culturology re-emerged in the Soviet Union as an interdisciplinary field in the late 1960s.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, culturology was reintroduced into the Higher Attestation Commission's list of specialties for which scientific degrees may be awarded in the Russian Federation and is now a compulsory object of study during the first year at institutions of higher education and in secondary schools. Defined as the study of human cultures, their integral systems, and their influence on human behavior, it may be formally compared to the Western discipline of cultural studies, although it has a number of important distinctions.
Culturology studies at Moscow Lomonosov University
Yuri Rozhdestvensky founded a school of Culturology at the Department of Language Studies of Moscow Lomonosov University. Rozhdestvensky's approach to the development of culture (accumulation and mutual influence of layers) can be compared to the approach used in media ecology.
In contemporary social sciences the word culturology was coined by American anthropologist Leslie White, who defined it as a field dedicated to the study of culture and cultural systems. Following White, philosopher of science Mario Bunge defined culturology as the sociological, economic, political, and historical study of concrete cultural systems. "Synchronic culturology" is said to coincide with the anthropology, sociology, economics, and political ideology of cultures. By contrast, "diachronic culturology" is a component of history. According to Bunge, "scientific culturology" also differs from traditional cultural studies as the latter are often the work of idealist literary critics or pseudo-philosophers ignorant of the scientific method and incompetent in the study of social facts and concrete social systems.
Bunge’s systemic and materialist approach to the study of culture has given birth to a variety of new fields of research in the social sciences. Fabrice Rivault, for instance, was the first scholar to formalize and propose international political culturology as a subfield of international relations in order to understand the global cultural system, as well as its numerous subsystems, and explain how cultural variables interact with politics and economics to impact world affairs. This scientific approach differs radically from culturalism, constructivism, and cultural postmodernism because it is based on logic, empiricism, systemism, and emergent materialism. International political culturology is presently being studied by scholars around the world.
- Mikhail Epstein, Transcultural Experiments: Russian and American Models of Creative Communication. New York: St. Martin's Press (Scholarly and Reference Division), 1969, Chapter 1: From Culturology to Transculture
- specialties (Russian)
- White, L. (1959). The Evolution of Culture: The Development of Civilization to the Fall of Rome. McGraw-Hill, New York.
- White, Leslie, (1975) “The Concept of Cultural Systems: A Key to Understanding Tribes and Nations, Columbia University, New York
- Bunge, Mario, (1998) Social Science Under Debate, Toronto: University of Toronto Press
- Rivault, Fabrice, (1999) Culturologie Politique Internationale : Une approche systémique et matérialiste de la culture et du système social global, McGill Dissertation, Montréal, Culturology Press
- Bunge, Mario, (2009) Political Philosophy - Fact, Fiction and Vision, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick
- Xintian, Yu (2005) “Cultural Factors In International Relations”, Chinese Philosophical Studies.
- Xintian, Yu (2009),"Combining Research on Cultural Theory and International Relations"
- The International Journal of Culturology
- The Russian Institute for Cultural Research (Russian)
- Culturology Department at National University "Ostroh Academy" (Ukrainian)