HSE University Opens the Laboratory of Critical Theory of Culture
The School of Arts and Humanities opened the Laboratory of Critical Theory of Culture. There, the researchers will engage in the development of new theory of culture in the fast-paced modern world. The head of the Laboratory was assigned to be Ivan Mikirtumov, Doctor of Philosophy and professor at HSE University-St Petersburg.
The main goal of the Laboratory of Critical Theory of Culture is to identify how the understanding of culture has changed today and what it is like in the modern world. In the modern age, culture was perceived in different ways: as a tool of socialisation and social control, as a set of values and ways of their transmission, and as a space for creative freedom. Each of these three terms came to the forefront in different periods—depending on the historical context and ideological beliefs, culture was perceived differently.
Now, we live in an age when information technologies play a huge role in people's lives. Familiar social institutions get old, and new ones come to replace them: the focus shifts from the generation of values to their identification and commercial use, creative freedom turns into an illusion but at the same time, there appear forms, ways and space for self-fulfilment and influence on the others which did not exist before. That is why the researchers believe that there is no more culture as it was perceived in the modern age. Therefore, it is important to identify what culture is today and where its boundaries lie.
Head of the Laboratory
On the cusp of the 20th and 21st centuries, the relations of humanity and nature, knowledge, technologies and social practices changed a lot. Now, we have many ways to influence nature and society, and we can implement our ideas much easier. However, now, rights and liberties are restricted by the peculiarities of the environment and its ability to recover. At the same time, the restrictions are imposed by people's readiness to pass the search and processing of information on to technologies as well as decision-making. Thus, in the end, we have to find an answer to the question of what is good, useful and desirable for people and society—to understand what is considered to be a boon.
In this situation, experts from the Laboratory of Critical Theory of Culture chose several questions to which they will try to find answers.
- Can computer technologies transform from a rational tool to a comfortable environment?
- What are the social-psychological effects of digitalisation?
- What are social bonds formed via technological and social interfaces like?
The Laboratory of Critical Theory of Culture was opened in the framework of the HSE project 'Boundaries of Modern Culture: Nature, Technologies and Social Interfaces'.
Together with the experts of the Laboratory, Master's students of social-humanitarian programmes of HSE University-St Petersburg can work on the research if their research interests match the project topic and research skills are interdisciplinary.