The Future Torn Apart:
Forecasts, Projects, Catastrophes, Utopias
XIX International Scientific and Practical Conference of Young Scientists
Development Vectors of Modern Russia
17-18 April 2020
application deadline: 10 March 2020
MSSES, Moscow,
Gazetnyy per., 3/5
Progress — that is, the notion that the history of humanity is essentially a movement towards some kind of common Good (happiness, liberty, unfolding human potential) — was undoubtedly the leading, albeit contested, ideology of the 19th and 20th centuries.

However, optimism, on which ideology of progress relies, exceeds that of a simple positive forecast wherein the future is never anything more than a better version of the present.

A view of the future that can guide human action, a project, always involves imagination, a degree of utopianism, it is always to some extent based on a rupture with experience grounded in the present.

The ideology of progress is impossible without a conviction that things will be better off tomorrow and we do not even know how.

But today it seems that the time of ideology of progress is over. The future — when and if it's even mentioned — invokes not optimism but anxiety or in the best case an ironic expectation of more of the same.

At the end of the last century «the end of history» was proclaimed (once again), the idea being that humanity has found the perfect and ultimate form of political constitution in liberal democracy. As a reaction to that a new peculiar kind of melancholy has emerged, the nostalgia for the lost future, for radical projects, for utopian thinking as such. On the other hand, our imagination is now full of various catastrophic scenarios ranging from an ecological crisis to a society of total technological control.

The future is no longer something offering opportunities for realisation of our freedom, but rather something posing all kinds of threats to it.

We invite researchers from diverse disciplines to the «Vectors 2020» conference to discuss the vast variety of problems related to the future:

  • Are there any projects of the future today?
  • Do we need them?
  • If the universalist ideology of progress is gone, what has replaced or can potentially replace it?
  • What is the future of the fundamental social institutions and forms of social life such as the state, the city, the people?
  • How do social sciences conceive of their own future?

Key dates

Young researchers and experts in the field of social sciences and humanities from Russia and other countries are invited to participate in the conference. We are glad to welcome undergraduate and graduate students as well as alumni and junior research assistants from research institutes.
until March 10
call for papers
(500-1000 words)
no later than March 30
results of the competitive selection of applications
April 17-18
(Moscow, Russia)
after the conference
release of the collection of articles (in digital form)
Political Philosophy
Can liberty exist without liberalism? Prospects for Republican Theory in the 21st Century
Dmitry Plotnikov, MSSES (dplot43[at],
Denis Vyaznikov, MSSES (flowerman59[at]

Nowadays the reason of the populist politics popularity is seen in liberal paradigm crisis. However, it doesn't mean that the era of democracy, which began in the middle of the 20th century, is ending, and the world is waiting for a setback to authoritarianism. Quentin Skinner, author of the book «Liberty before Liberalism», argues that thinking of liberty appeared long before liberal ideology, which means it can exist outside of it.

His works formed the basis of modern republican theory, which has already gone beyond university departments into the field of practice. One of the key Republican theorists of our time, Philip Pettit, advised the Spanish government of Jose Luis Zapatero; The team of the «Res Publica» research center of the European University in St. Petersburg took part in the development of Russian participatory budgeting projects.

Republican theory can help us answer questions about the future of politics in the 21st century.

We will discuss:
- What unites liberalism and republican theory?
- How do republicans see the world after the state?
- Where are republican practices used today?
- Can republican theory be associated with capitalism?
- What is the role of public spaces in the republican political system?
- Will republican practices, such as the lot, help to solve the crisis of representative democracy?
- What will be the fate of the «Populus» in the era of universal inclusion?
- How we can incorporate the concept of Human Rights into classical republican theory?

Key speaker: Julius von Freytag-Loringhoven, Head of the Moscow office of The Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
After «sex», «gender» and «the human»: feminist perspectives for the future
Nadezhda Kokoeva, MSSES,
Margarita Shaburova, MSSES.

The gender issue became a sensitive topic of discussion in fierce political battles. Feminist theory now jeopardized the category of «gender» by abandoning the category of «sex». In addition, posthumanism theory cast doubt on the notion of «the human». The two most notable theories that currently reflect on the feminist future are Queer theory and Cyborg theory (Cyberfeminism). Both of them are trying to surpass the usual binary oppositions of male/female, public/private, natural/cultural, virtual/real. The first theory is based on the category of identity and offers a future characterized by gender diversity and plurality. The second theory is based on a new subject of the future — a cyborg that is a «hybrid of a machine and an organism» that goes beyond the common gender differences. Both theories formulated a long time ago are especially relevant these days: on the one hand, we witness the democratization of society, which contributes to the search for new individualities, moving from «groups» towards «multiplicity»; on the other hand, technologicalization — the development of robotics, the emergence of the Internet, Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) — all those changes combined provide new ground for rethinking the common world and its capabilities.
The emotional sphere of the future and capitalism
Organizer: Nikolai Voroshilov, MSSES.

The «experience economy» and the exteriorization of feelings that is immanent to it have led to the establishment of a new, emotional mode of capitalism. A new emotional culture has emerged, marked by the migration of feelings into the public sphere, in particular by the commercialization of feelings, the rise of therapeutic society, the practices of oversharing, «new sincerity» which have culminated in a wave of posts using a hashtag #faceofdepression. This emotional culture has been evolving hand in hand with capitalism, taking us to a new step of capitalist culture — «emotional capitalism» (notion coined by Eva Illouz), where human relationships are subject to processes similar to market exchange. How do we think about a new emotional culture, which functioning follows the culture logic of late capitalism? How do we define the emotional culture of tomorrow? Will it stay in a vicious cycle of reproducing new modes of alienation, reclaim the intimate emotional experience or be revolutionized by a project yet unrecognized by researchers?
On the edge of Nature: future of political ecology
Organizer: Elena Lipatova, MSSES.

Belief in inexhaustible infinity of Nature was the side effect of the idea of progress which was the domintaing world view since the age of Enlightenment. However, since the end of the 20th century this belief has been getting more and more problematic. And while the «first» nature appears to be on the edge, the «second», social nature, seems to stubbornly resist any substantial transformations by continuing to perceive the first one as an inexhaustible cornucopia of resources.

The feeling that the end of the world is near results in fear, shame and guilt, making us wonder «What are we going to do?». The prospect of an environmental catastrophe confronts us with a choice: conformism, tactics of individual awareness, or political, global decisions? Or maybe the solution is to approach the world differently?

The emergence of object-oriented theories marked a materialist turn in philosophy. Researchers and artists are now looking for new ways to talk about political ecology, diligently blurring the line between human and non-human. Lifeless matter is endowed with the human features, becoming an actant. Oil and Grain are now seen as acting in social reality equally with the great reformers. Human, on the other hand, is being deprived of everything that separated it from Nature — including Mind. Is there a limit to such total emancipation? How can we think human agency in this common world of human and non-human? And is there any place for nature in the Antropocene era? Can we eliminate the notion of Nature, separated from the social world? What are the political consequences of this «new» world view?
Global/local/glocal future: «transcultural universality» and «cultural diversity»
Nadezhda Kokoeva, MSSES,
Margarita Shaburova, MSSES,
Egor Khvostov, MSSES.

Due to globalization and the process of cosmopolitanization, the erosion of nation-states occurs, the permeability of physical and cultural borders increases, and former local and national communities are being transformed. At the same time, a new «nomadic» subject appears, who is characterized by the absence of a strong attachment to a place with a floating national and ethnic identity. However, this kind of partially progressive view of the development of society is increasingly criticized in connection with the recent processes of «returning the borders» — the growth of nationalism and the «right turn» in Europe and America, introducing travel bans for certain immigrant groups, and the disappointment over the multiculturalism policy — all this leads to criticism of the globalization process .

The future in such a situation is constantly moving and uncertain. The emergence of a «world risk society» (U. Beck), in which the future is the expectation of impending global catastrophes — becomes our reality. Questions about local/global, universal/individual, national/ethnic, etc. have to be asked again. Can we offer any alternatives to «identity politics»? What does the future hold for the post-national world? Can we talk about the categories of «nation», «race», «ethnicity» and «culture» in the future? what will happen to local cultures?

Engaging the «political imagination» in such situation becomes a possible way to overcome this uncertainty, for which the involvement of the modern philosophical and sociological understanding of the world's structure, as well as the involvement of theories of nationalism and ethnicity, multiculturalism, postcolonial theory, decolonial turn, etc. can play an important role.
Fundamental Sociology
Poststructuralism, postanarchism and contemporary social theory: conceptualizing ontological politics of the future
Organizer: Petr Torkanovskiy, MSSES (torpyotr[at]

The term «ontological politics» introduced into the field of social theory by the researchers associated (in Russian tradition) with the so-called Lancaster school (Vakhstain, 2005) of Science and Technology Studies – John Law and Annemarie Mol – in the 21st century regains its importance due to the ontological turn in anthropology and social sciences. Development of non-anthropocentric approaches to the description of social reality(ies?) appears to be inspired simultaneously on the political (as a result of integration of postcolonial pathos into scientific mainsteam), ontological (due to the development of speculative realism and object-oriented theories in philosophy) and epistemological (due to the recovering interest in poststructuralist philosophy) levels. Foucauldian understanding of power-knowledge relations invites researchers to look for new concepts describing social world(s). These worlds' ontology of becoming (Pickering, 2017) requires to be examined in a complex conjunction of ontological, political and epistemological trajectories. This section invites researchers to inspect the genealogy, the current state and the future of postanarchist theory in which epistemological insights of the poststructuralist philosophy combine with radical political thought.

Key speakers: Benjamin Franks (University of Glasgow), Maria Rakhmaninova (Saint-Petersburg Mining University), Evgeny Kuchinov (Minin University).
Searching technological utopias: imaginaries, objects and practices
Lenya Yuldashev. MSSES, club for internet and society enthusiasts (tov.dinast[at],
Elena Gudova, HSE, University 20.35,
Denis Sivkov, ISS RANEPA.

From the industrialization, Fourier's phalansters and Marx's «Capital», to digitalization, Wired magazine and Silicon Valley, technological utopias have always been aimed at discovering the outlines of a better social fabric through technology. Today the colonization of Mars, immortality, the terraforming of Earth, the Internet connectivity for all, smart homes and cities, neural networks and algorithms for predicting the future are stirring the minds of professionals and amateurs.

How do technotopies appear and disappear? What actors invent and construct them? How exactly does this happen? Finally, how do imaginary narratives and the materiality of technology affect our ways of representing and securing the future?

For the researcher technological utopianism is interesting both as a belief in the ability of technology to influence society and as the collection of principles (not only technological) that ensure the existence, maintenance, and transformation of utopias (and dystopias).

In the section it is proposed to explore the area that lies on the edge of the social theories, field research and literature — to find objects, imaginations and practices that create, maintain and destroy technological utopias.
Secularization or religious transformation? Religious resources in non-religious spheres of life
Kirill Markin, graduate of the MSSES (markink20[at],
Polina Vrublevskaya, graduate of MSSES (pvrublevskaya[at],
Nina Lyubinarskaya, MSSES (nina.lyubinarskaya[at]

Contemporary studies of religion are largely limited to stating (or challenging) the issues of secularization in the most developed countries. The phenomenon of de-secularization is more akin to the developing or under-developed countries. Despite all the quite crushing criticism, the axiom «modernization is equal to secularization» is still at play. In this light, religion appears as 'traditional' and is identified either with classical religious narratives, or with their syncretic variations. Anyway, talk of religion involves the appeal to a transcendental resource in some specific forms and ways. However, the fact that the «religious resource» of even institutional churches is probably located in completely different spheres is almost ignored. This section is devoted to the study of such life spheres that might generate a resource for transcendences. Areas of economic, political, sexual, ecological, etc. — and their intersections could produce the sources of «ultimate meanings» and actualize the lives of different actors — individual and institutional — more often and influentially than the dogmatized truths of religious traditions. So what is the religion of the future?

Key speakers:
Markus Moberg, professor (Study of Cultures PhD), researcher at the Department of Religious Studies at University of Turku, Finland;
Anna Shirokanova, sociologist, Assistant Professor of HSE in St.Petersburg, Senior Researcher Laboratory for Comparative Social Research.
Social studies of the future: information, individuality, and culture
Organizer: Natalia Volkova, graduate of MSSES, lecturer in MARСH.

The human condition during the development of technology is described by Rousseau's expression «one is carrying oneself, so to speak, entirely with one». This expression gains additional significance with the development of information technology, since it means not only persons or their clothes, but also all possible «small technologies» (following John Urry) that expand their private space. Such technologies can be space-based when they provide remote access, for example, via communication devices (like pagers, mobile phones, headphones), as well as be time-based due to the increasing memory of electronic devices that store not only photos and evidence of the past, but also mark the future through calendar entries or health apps, which plan for you the number of steps that is better to do during the day.

If spatial or temporal expansion in the past is observed in the sociology, the expansion into the field of the future is usually left to economists, politicians or cultural scientists. This is a paradox: neither the strong program of cultural sociology, based on the concept of culture of Durkheim, nor the program of cultural research based on the Simmel's concepts of interaction and individual life, are discussing the futurity. Nevertheless, it is the future where social actions of persons are oriented, based on their rational goal or values.

But even if there is a discussion on futurity in sociology of culture, the restoration of the future in its rights will give rise to the new and even more complex issues. If the futurity is associated with temporal expansion, will this expansion be individual or social? If we define culture as information, the development and distribution of which depends on technologies, including individual one, which each of us «carries with us», should we return to the question of the possibility of individual culture? Or should we ask, what place will the individual extensions/ expansions take in sociology of culture, and where does the line between culture and individual extensions go?

Key speakers:
Celia Lury, Professor, Director, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, Univercity of Warwick
practical psychology
Resilience: dynamically sustainable way towards the indeterminate future
Marina Varich, MSSES,
Shamil Akhlakov, MSSES.

Resilience in the broadest interpretation is understood as the ability of an individual or group to cope with unexpected life difficulties.

The theory of resilience in its core is based on the work of John Bowlby and the research of Norman Garmezy, who is considered to be the founder of the theory. Now this topic is widely spread in the world. So, in 2014, the center for psychological assistance of the American psychological Association released information materials about the factors of resistance and how to develop and maintain it.

After another psychologist, Ann Masten, popularized the concept, since the 2000s the scientific community has been actively engaged in the study of resistance in individuals, individual organizations/institutions, and society. A feature of the development of the last wave of the theory is a multi-level approach to its measurement, which takes into account not only personal characteristics, which is typical for modern neoliberal society, but also socio-cultural and socio-political contexts.

In our section, we would like to talk about resilience as an attribute of the readiness of society, its institutions, and the individual for the future.
Opening the veil of time: communication of the individual and society in the psychology of art
Alexandra Prudnikova, MSSES,
Svetlana Zaskoka, MSSES.

«The most absurd delusion is to regard art as a craft that is fully understood only by the artisan. Art is a manifestation of feelings, and feeling speaks a common language» — Somerset Maugham.

We are surrounded by art, but how much do we know about the psychology of art? Any creative work bears the imprint of the interaction between the individual and society. What and how does the author reflect in his work? In this section, we will track the relationship between intrapersonal and social processes in creativity!
Cultural Management
«Hard-Boiled Wonderland». The сulture sector in an unstable world
Organizer: Lia Barseghyan, MSSES.

Text now available only in Russian.

За последние несколько десятилетий в области культуры так часто наступал «конец света», а искусство с такой регулярностью присутствовало на собственных похоронах, что менеджеры культуры привыкли к состоянию перманентного апокалипсиса. С начала XX века вновь и вновь возникают разговоры о кризисе и переструктурировании культурного поля, достаточно вспомнить эпоху «технической воспроизводимости искусства» Вальтера Беньямина, «конец искусства» Артура Данто или «развалины музея» Дугласа Кримпа.

С другой стороны, управление сферой культуры в России подвержено влиянию экономических кризисов и непредсказуемо изменяющей свой вектор государственной культурной политики. Эти обстоятельства не позволяют строить сколько-нибудь продолжительные планы развития проектов без учета возможных форс-мажоров. Поэтому название секции, цитата из заглавия произведения Харуки Мураками, отсылает к реальности актуального культурного взаимодействия.

Работник культуры в России существует в ситуации постоянной нестабильности и открытого, но потенциально вечно близкого конца — сокращения бюджета, оптимизации ресурсов, закрытия проектов. Секция призвана предложить способы адаптации к постоянно меняющейся ситуации в сфере культуры и обратиться к таким темам, как перспективное видение метаморфоз культурной практики и роли человека в них. Как изменятся культурные институции, заменят ли работников культуры машины и как на это влияет развитие культурной экономики? А также мы предпримем попытку прогнозирования и визионерства — без уверенности в том, что какие-то из этих прогнозов могут исполниться.

Key speakers:
Daniel dc Miller, academic in Global Centre for Advanced Studies (GCAS) College Dublin Ltd.
The law of the future and the future of law
Organizer: Lia Barseghyan, MSSES.

Text now available only in Russian.

Право — архив решений прошлого, который определяет выбор в настоящем. Но право — это еще и попытка сделать мир лучше для будущих поколений. Вспомните историю возникновения преторской собственности и представьте, что вы наполовину претор, а наполовину гость из будущего или предсказатель. Ваша цель — указать на тенденции изменений, найти такие кусочки паззла и по возможности собрать его. Будущее сложится по-своему, но каждый отчасти окажется прав. Так какой вклад юристы могут сделать в разработку проекта будущего? Какое законодательство будет действовать в мире пост-труда, пост-гендера, тотальной цифровизации? Как именно право деформируется, и как будет соблюдаться баланс интересов завтра?
Real estate circulation in the comparative legal perspective
Organizer: Lia Barseghyan, MSSES.

Text now available only in Russian.

Что осталось от римского права в современном законодательстве, и какая юридическая конструкция права собственности появится в будущем? Как соотносятся друг с другом понятия «титул», «запись», «право»? Возможна ли продажа вещи, которая еще не была создана? Как сегодня оформить право собственности так, чтобы завтра оно не прекратилось по щелчку пальцев? Мы можем заметить предпосылки изменений, логически развивающих институты вещного права, закладывающие камни в основание абсолютно новых, или, наоборот, ставящие их с ног на голову. В рамках представленной секции мы ответим на вопрос, как изменится оборот недвижимости завтра.
Insurance policy of a company: bankruptcy as an «airbag»
Organizer: Lia Barseghyan, MSSES.

Text now available only in Russian.

Кризисы в экономике так же цикличны, как и в любых других сферах жизни. Обвалы мировой экономики в 2008 г. и российской в 2014 г. показали, как критически важны такие институты права как банкротство. Пять лет назад поправки в федеральный закон о несостоятельности, направленные на защиту прав физических лиц, вступили в силу. Однако иметь законы лишь на бумаге недостаточно: они должны не просто декларироваться, но максимально оперативно применяться для восстановления экономической стабильности игроков на рынке. Более того, закон о банкротстве обязан защищать конституционные права любого гражданина от событий прошлого и будущих финансовых потрясений. Предугадать и предупредить проблемы, возникающие на практике, но не замеченные при разработке нормативно-правового акта, — в том числе такую задачу ставит перед собой законодатель. Каких изменений стоит опасаться в сфере банкротства и на какие надеяться в будущем?
Travel and accommodation expenses are covered by the conference participants. At the request of the participant, the conference organizing committee can assist in finding and booking a hotel in Moscow. At the request of the participant, the organizing committee may send an official invitation to the conference for presentation at the place of study or work.
Key speakers
sociologist, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
academic in Global Centre for Advanced Studies (GCAS) College Dublin Ltd
sociologist of religion, University of Turku, Finland
philosopher, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Roehampton University, United Kingdom
philosopher, Senior Lecturer in Social and Political Philosophy, University of Glasgow, Scotland
Julius von Freytag-Loringhoven
Head of the Moscow office of The Friedrich Naumann Foundation
philosopher, Minin State Pedagogical University of Nizhny Novgorod
philosopher, posthumanism researcher, curator of an open platform for research and education Posthuman Studies Lab
philosopher, Saint-Petersburg Mining University
philosopher, European University at Saint-Petersburg
philosopher, European University at Saint-Petersburg
sociologist, Assistant Professor of HSE in St.Petersburg, Senior Researcher Laboratory for Comparative Social Research
The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences
Russian-British postgraduate university providing variety of educational programs: Sociology, Psychology, History, Law, International Politics, Management of Socio-Cultural Projects, Urbanism, Media Management
The organizing committee
Научный консультант —
George Kopylov, MSSES

Shamil Akhlakov
Lia Barseghyan
Natalia Volkova
Nikolai Voroshilov
Nina Gondarenko
Alexandra Klimova
Nadezhda Kokoeva
Elena Lipatova
Kirill Markin
Olga Nizovtseva
Ekaterina Novikova
Dmitry Plotnikov
Petr Torkanovskiy
Lenya Yuldashev
E-mail: vectors[at]

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