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Virtual Bridge – Lviv-Wrocław 6

Tetiana Łapan
docent at the Department of Sociology
Ivan Franko National University of Lviv
tetianalap@yahoo.com

Oksana Chymowycz
assistant at the Department of Sociology
Ivan Franko National University of Lviv
o.khymovych@gmail.com

The study of security, risk, violence, genocide, terrorism, and the new challenges of war is a set of issues that are not new to sociology (sociology-humanities). They have been analyzed in the past, they are of interest now, and as the Ukrainian experience shows, they will be increasingly analyzed in the future, also in sociology. There are a considerable number of scientific studies of war, but a question arises to which it is quite difficult to find a rational answer: why have the numerous volumes of scientific reflections produced so far, unfortunately, not proved useful and not fulfilled their basic task – avoiding war and its consequences? It is a truism that wars have accompanied mankind since the dawn of history. Referring to current events, we notice that not only do wars not become obsolete, but ‘human’ cruelty and evil take on new forms.

As Ukrainian sociologists, including those from Lviv, we reflect on the events of the war in Ukraine. Naturally, our first reaction – triggered by the shock of the events of the Russo-Ukrainian war – leads to the legitimate idea of new, ‘sophisticated’ forms of human cruelty (pathological cruelty) and violence, of ‘improved’ forms of inhuman behaviour and terror associated with the Russian occupation of Ukraine’s cities. An idea that has emerged in the light of information about the war crimes committed (which we have already learned about – Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel and which we will learn about later, after the victory and complete liberation of Ukraine).

It is impossible to comprehend, understand and explain why war is taking on ever more ‘subtly inhuman’ forms, why murder is being carried out with such pleasure? Where does this aggressive desire for violence come from? These are extremely difficult questions, which scientists have not yet been able to answer properly. Hannah Arendt’s concept of the banality of evil comes to mind, but these and other canonical works need to be modified.

It is known how wars begin, develop and end. Yet there is no progress in preventing them, in observing the rules of war; knowledge is completely powerless to prevent them, to stop wars. Everything is explained ex post facto. Today it is also impossible to prevent crimes against humanity. A huge number of dissertations are devoted to the origins of violence, terrorism and aggression – to the question of what forces motivate people to carry out criminal orders and make them see no fault of their own. We see that science is powerless in this case, that it fails to overcome the ‘seal of anti-sociality’, of hostility. The question also arises: has everything been done to stop this ‘barbarism’ in time?

Having analysed contemporary sociological research on the issues related to the Russian-Ukrainian war, it is only possible to problematise the issues of the war piecemeal rather than holistically and comprehensively. Most research conducted during the war reveals only certain aspects of the problem. Therefore, the most important topics during the war are attitudes towards the Armed Forces of Ukraine, assessment/support of the president and the government, readiness to defend the state, the degree of adaptation of Ukrainians to the war, linguistic, religious and other issues. The list of surveys conducted since the beginning of the great Russian invasion of Ukraine is presented in Table 1[1] .

Table 1. Themes, timing and centres that have conducted research in Ukraine since the beginning of Russian aggression

No.  Research themes and problems Date of research Centre
1 Nationwide survey ‘Ukraine in conditions of war’ (assessment of the level of confidence in the armed forces, support for the actions of the President) 26-27 February 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
2 Nationwide survey ‘Ukraine in the conditions of war’ (assessment of the situation, assessment of the forces of the Ukrainian army, readiness of citizens to defend themselves, foreign policy orientations) 1 March 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
3 Assessment of the guilt of the peoples of Russia and Belarus 1 March 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
4 First phase of public opinion polls during the war (attitudes towards russians,[2] guilt of russians, keeping in touch with russians, support for Putin’s actions, assessment of the government’s actions, scenarios for the development of events) 3-4 March 2022 Info Sapiens
5 Evaluation of international support for Ukraine 8-9 March 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
6 Assessment of the situation in Ukraine (national opposition, attitude towards the russian orthodox church, relations with russians) 8-9 March 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
7 Fourth nationwide survey of Ukrainians under conditions of war (assessment of the situation, assessment of russia’s intentions and the reaction of Ukrainians, support for joining NATO) 12-13 March 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
8 First wave of public opinion polls during the war (attitudes towards russians, guilt of russians, keeping in touch with russians, support for Putin’s actions, assessment of the government’s actions, scenarios for the development of events) 14-15 March 2022 Info Sapiens
9 Fifth nationwide survey: Ukraine in the conditions of war (assessment of the situation, belief in victory, threats, crisis situations, attitudes towards states, talks with russia, military alliances) 18 March 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
10 Sixth nationwide survey: adaptation of Ukrainians in war conditions (reconstruction of Ukraine after the war, economic situation of the population, adaptation to life during the war, crisis situations during the war, plans ‘for life after the war’, communication during the war) 19 March 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
11 Sixth national survey: language issues in Ukraine (language identity, use of language in daily life, status of Ukrainian and Russian languages) 19 March 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
12 Monitoring ‘Survey on the availability of Ukrainian books abroad’ 23 March 2022 Info Sapiens
13 All-Ukrainian ‘Omnibus’ survey (whether Ukrainians plan to return after the war, religious issues, economic situation, political preferences) 24-28 March 2022 Info Sapiens
14 Third wave of public opinion polls during the war (attitudes towards Russians, guilt of Russians, maintaining contacts with Russians, support for Putin’s decisions, evaluation of the government’s actions, scenarios for the development of events) 28-29 March 2022 Info Sapiens
15 Seventh nationwide survey: Ukraine in the conditions of war (assessment of the situation, belief in victory, sympathies towards foreign partners)ych) Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
16 Ukrainian refugees, moods and assessments (social portrait of a refugee, language issue, support, assessment of actions of Ukrainian and Russian authorities, assessment of foreign aid, chances of victory) 15 March – 1 April 2022 The O. Razumkov Ukrainian Centre for Economic and Political Research
17 Perseverance Month (welfare/well-being of Ukrainians under war conditions, changes of residence, life changes, ways of support and super-heroes of the war, relatives from russia and their stance towards the war and limitations in communication, mood-lifting memes) March 2022 Factum Group Ukraine
18 Eighth nationwide survey: Ukraine under conditions of war (general mood, national identity, national resistance, economic situation of the population, functioning of cities, support for social initiatives, the question of the Orthodox Church) 6 April 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
19 Eighth national survey: psychological markers of war (adaptation to stressful situations, level of life force, level of mental exhaustion) 6 April 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
20 Ukrainians and the war (scale of migration, contacts with friends and relatives from russia, sources of motivation of Ukrainians, belief in Ukrainian victory, Ukrainians turn to Ukrainians) 9-11 April 2022 Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ukrainian Research Panel ‘Own opinion’, Research.ua Centre
21 Omnibus (exploring attitudes of Ukrainians towards themselves and towards russians: possibilities of writing to ordinary Russians/Ukrainians, what they would write, guilt of russians in invasion of Ukraine, sympathy towards citizens, support/no support for invasion of Ukraine, whether ordinary citizens bear responsibility for military operation in Ukraine) 10-18 April 2022 Info Sapiens
22 Ninth national survey: socio-economic problems during the war, evaluation of international partnerships (relocation, returning home, presence/absence of employment, evaluation of the ‘Victory Gardens’ initiative, ownership of a plot of land and initiative to plant a garden, celebration of Easter, international aid, attitudes towards international leaders) 26 April 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group
23 Tenth nationwide survey: Ideological markers of war (reception of 9 May celebrations, historical memory of the Second World War, attitudes towards defenders of Ukraine, attitudes towards historical figures, dismantling of symbols of totalitarianism, attitudes towards representatives of different nationalities, language issue). 27 April 2022 Sociological ‘Rating’ Group

On the one hand, it is impossible to question the extraordinary importance of all the sociological research that has been conducted. On the other hand, it is necessary to emphasize that such partial or multifaceted empirical sociological research cannot be the only basis for a comprehensive and systemic understanding of contemporary war as a large-scale phenomenon. Besides, these and subsequent studies will not provide an opportunity to conceptualise the issue of war (to develop a new theoretical and methodological understanding of war), because they do not create conditions for an in-depth study of the specificity of war, its multi-vector, multithreaded and multidimensional character. We are at the initial stage of research on the presented problematic.

Today, as never before, the issue of war has become a key issue in the analyses of sociologists, political scientists, historians, economists, psychologists, international relations experts in our country and abroad. Researchers treat war as the most important problem in the field of their research interests. The question is: what specific issues should a sociologist analyze in wartime, what exactly should be the subject and object of analysis for contemporary sociology? We would like to make a number of important, in our view, remarks about the division of research on militarism in the sociology of war and peace and the sociology of the army/military. For greater clarity, it is necessary to separate and define, on the one hand, civilian issues in war, on the other, issues of exclusive military competence. Besides, the sociology of war and the sociology of the army should take into account, besides the directly military context, also the social aspect of research, in which the opinion and reflections of professional soldiers on the processes of transformation in society are taken into account, and civilians have the opportunity to conduct military analyses; then there would be the possibility of a permanent exchange of views on the role of military institutions in society and the development of civil society. The proposed research directions can only be a guideline for future research practice and analysis.

References:

  1. “Рейтинг”. URL: https://ratinggroup.ua/research/ukraine/
  2. Info Sapiens/ URL: https://sapiens.com.ua/
  3. Українського центру економічних і політичних досліджень імені О. Разумкова. URL: https://razumkov.org.ua/
  4. Factum Group Ukraine. URL: https://factum-ua.com/
  5. Інститут соціології НАН України. URL: https://i-soc.com.ua/ua/news/ukrainci-ta-vijna

[1] A sociological study of the problems of Anti-Terrorist Operation – Combined Forces Operations in the period 2014–2021.

[2] The author of the article intentionally keeps using a lower case for ‘Russians’, ‘Russia’ and ‘Russian Orthodox Church’, and this tendency has been saved in translation [translator’s note].

Published by: Maria Kozan

6 Jun 2022

last modification: 6 Jun 2022