Value Of Reforming Social And Economic Models Of Interaction In Society Development


The paper presents the social and philosophical concept of the reformation process based on a directed system of interaction with an object of social reality. The reform is a targeted intervention directed at the selected object (institutions, social relations, and ways of interaction). The systematicity, dynamics, enforcement by the state authority, the development due to people interactions in social action are justified under the framework of this concept. Identification of the existing concept of the reform process and the diversity of phenomena of social change is a problem of creating a universal model that allows describing the practice of reforms. Authors analyze social and philosophical search of overcoming the negative alienation of the person in society through the statement of humanistic forms of transformation of society in economic, social, political and legal spheres. Revolution, transformation, modernization, and reforms have special meaning among the forms of changing of social, political and economic institutions. Authors fairly point to obsolescence and too private character of the available models of a concept of reform in social knowledge, thereby indicating the need definitions the new bases for its description. All the forms of social changes are realized by means of reformations. Reformation is a directed technology of the social institutions` changes. The authors define reformation as a type of social reformative activity, based on the social construction of the objects changes.

Keywords: Reformssocial changesimproved practicemethods of management of the society


Inexhaustible heuristic opportunities of the category "activity" lie in in its universal nature, in its ability to reflect social life. The criterion of the person`s reality is not an ideal process of thinking but the manner in which he changes the ontologic environment for its activity. An activity of the person is implemented in social interaction. Activity is a joint participation of the subject and an object in the complex and mobile network of the social relations. Activity and social interaction are terms of many meanings in social sciences. Both concepts are based on the person`s actions that include communication, experience, an object orientation at the same time.

The problem of accountability to the public of the executive power for negative consequences of reforming is very relevant for societies that have emerged from the crisis caused by failed reforms. To identify peculiarities and determine the place of reforms in the social transformation process, highlight structural components, emphasize a source of social change (improved practice) through reforms and describe its dynamics, cultural and historical tendencies - means to investigate important aspects of reforming. It is necessary to understand how reforming of an object of social reality as "the world in itself", allows one to reflect the formation of the reformer`s values on social reality. An understanding of the mechanisms for interaction among subjects, allowing them to carry out reform process through coordinated and corroborative action aimed at achieving the goals of the reform, is essential, as long as an analysis of differences between the concepts “the reformer” and ”the subject of reforming” and identification of essential characteristics of changes resulting from reforms.

To answer the question “for what?” means to understand internal aspirations of the reformers. The study of the relationship between individual ethical values of the personality and social expectation from his/her implementation of the public role of the reformer allows identifying the academic problem of the balance of personal and social dominants in reformer’s motivation. Not every subject is capable of reform, and not every purposeful activity constitutes reforming. The social-philosophical problem of the modern social studies is that it might not be easy to separate reform efforts from other types of the changes in society.

Problem Statement

The concept of a "process" is a theoretical construction that allows describing and comprehending many phenomena of social changes in society in their dynamics. The reform process belongs to the practice of social change, and it is distinct from the revolutionary, evolutionary, modernizational, transformative processes. Consistently implemented actions to reform certain social relations, institutions, structural and functional linkages include the subject of the reform, reform activity as a process, the reform object, as long as the emerging through this activity relations among public institutions and individuals.

In the 1990s the Russian school of Social Studies brought attention to the dilemma of the object-object interactions. The model of subject-object interaction is based on subject-object relationship. There are two types of activity: action and communication. The former indicates the direction toward an object; the latter indicates both the direction toward an object and human interaction with each other. The research of the mechanism allowing social institutions and social relations change through targeted management of people’s common activity stays relevant for the social studies. No social group in modern society is able to be an independent subject of social transformations, that is to implement the strategy of social change alone. Modern societies are characterized by the formation of the diverse and well-structured subjects, making it is impossible to implement change without taking into account their interests and without their involvement in the political process. The elite groups occupy the top positions in social stratification (Tanzi, 2000). They possess large amount of political, cultural, and educational resources. The relations between social subjects at different levels of social stratification are often built on some society-specific models of interaction (Leanza, 2014, p. 168). In modern Western societies, these relations are flexible and based on cooperation (Fukuyama, 2000, p. 98; Edwards, 2014).

Russia and countries of the former socialist bloc are characterized by the rigid model of submission-interaction of social strata in political decision-making. The elite groups implement the strategy of social change, perform the projects of social transformation, trying to impose the will on the broad sectors of the society. They consolidate themselves into rigid organization forms and force other social groups to participate in the political activity (Konovalov, 2006; 2012, p. 67). More than that, they deliberately promote the formation of political actors and introduce the ideology justifying their social transformation activity. A variety of social changes in the post-communist countries at the end of the 20th century has shown that there are many possible trajectories of social reform in a crisis situation. This variability in many respects influenced the ambiguous perception of reformation processes in the society. The methodological challenges of the analysis of reforming process in modern cross-disciplinary discourses are caused by discrepancy and ambiguity in the definition of the concepts of the reform, the reformer, and the process of reforming. The application of these concepts to a cultural and historical variety of the phenomena of reform change practices is a problem of the choice of the methodological framework capable of facilitating investigation of a variety of practical reforms in the society.

The traditional Marxist philosophical understanding of a reform as a concession of the ruling stratum to the opposition to postpone a social revolution caused lack of research interest among the Soviet scholars in the processes of public institutions and social relations reforming. The political events of the 1990s, which profoundly changed the destiny of Russia, initiated processes of reforming of the most fundamental social, political and economic institutes of the society. The concept of the reform began to be used in conjunction with the concepts of social and political modernization and social transformation. Simultaneous transformations in economic, political, social and legal spheres in Russia had contributed to the emergence of the diverging views among researchers on caused and driving forces of the changes taking place. Those alternative views could be summarized in two vision on the issue of the reforming: Russian experience of the social reforming and reforming as a phenomenon of the world culture (Vlasov, 1998, p. 5; Gritskevich, 2014, p. 236). Alternative visions of the nature of Russian society transformation problems and complex academic debate on its development path failed to address the analysis of reforming as a type of transformational human activity in the society. In this regard, not only the problem of definition of a source of reformatory activity of the person is relevant, but also the problem of objective possibilities of reforms implementation in the society.

The discrepancy between targets and achievements of social and economic reforms is caused by negative tendencies of the person`s perception of the social reality. Informal negotiations, double decisions for themselves and other participants of the process, arrangement on concessions in the corridors of power between the leading political forces about the objectives and expected outcomes define unpredictability of reforming process. (Gritskevich, 2012, p. 69). Society loses the understanding of the purposes of social institution and social relations reform actions. The sense of the person`s alienation in social and economic models interaction among subjects of public activity manifests itself in the perception of the world around. First, the person feels powerless, understands that his/her unique destiny is being controlled not by him/her, but some external forces (the current economic situation, the existing laws, the social status). Second, social orientation and determining of the activity purpose are dominated by the idea of life meaninglessness, that the goals cannot be achieved without the external assistance and intervention (frustration). Third, the reality is being perceived as a space of collapsing mutual commitments between the state and the person. The laws, social instructions, ethical standards are being invalidated; the institutionalized culture is breaking down. Fourth, the person feels loneliness and loss of self-identity, experiences destruction of the originality and authenticity of the personality.

The changes in Russia after 1991, conducted by the ruling elite, were officially called the reforms. At the same time, many social change scholars used different concepts to address the ongoing processes. Different opinions of contemporaries on the type of social changes that caused the collapse of the USSR are expressed in the work «Ten years after August. Preconditions, results, and prospects of the Russian transformation» (Trapkov, 2002).

  • E. Gaidar, V. Mau, A. Neshchadin believe that the events of 1991-1993 in Russia had the character of a democratic revolution that carried out genuine socialist transformations and opposed the power of the Soviet society party elite.

  • According to A.A. Neshchadin, the events of 1991-1993 in Russia were provoked to a significant extent; they cannot be called a revolution. Under these conditions one should talk about the putsch and the anti-putsch that affected Moscow.

  • While pondering on the importance of the revolution of 1991-1993 for Russia compared with the October Revolution of 1917, E.G. Yasin argued that "this revolution was in fact realized in the form of reforms."

  • The reform changes in modern Russia had the essential nature of modernization carried out by the ruling elite to meet the political and economic claims of powerful states.

  • The scholars failed to address the question if reforms are capable of bringing the social change comparable with transformation caused by a revolution. Historians, sociologists, and other scholars call somebody a reformer if one implemented reforms which brought development or solved existing problems.

The notion of the reformer, as well as the revolutionary, the leader, the head, is the abstract concept, based on essential characteristics of the activity in social relations. The nature of the reformer concept is a social role of managing the change in the social development. Despite a long history of reforms, showing great and not so great reformers, the problem of the relationship between personal and social (internal traits of personality and socially acquired skills) in the reformer is not solved. Why one person seemingly possessing all necessary stills turns unable to reform while other take power and implement the set of reforms that became a breakthrough in the economic development of the society?

Research Questions

The research area of this study is determined by the question: what mechanism allows for effective collaboration of reform process subjects, makes possible the effective reforming of the social and economic institutions, and facilitates consolidating the reform results?

Not every change in the implementation of social activity is transformation. It is evident, that one needs to hold sufficient standing in the social and political hierarchy to be able to change something radically. One person or group of supporters are unable to carry out the change of social institutions. Special powers providing the right to implement the reform project are necessary for this purpose. Social engineering is a sphere of activity, which demands creativity. The person who is unable to identify the problem and to find a solution is not capable of reforming. Therefore, reforming can be seen as a unique transformational and creative activity. That is why it is important to explore under what conditions social changes can be carried out by reforms. Finding the answer to this question allows for the effective way of reform implementation. It is necessary to analyze the structure of the reform and explore the mechanisms of human interactions in its implementation. Could we possibly identify ideal type, model of the reformer through exploring the experience of reforming? Exploration of possibilities to answer the question is limited by historical realities of transformational activity carries out by the reformers who are already recognized by the humanity. The essential difference of the notion “reformer” from other concepts, characterizing the specific features of activity and the nature of social standing, is professional activity related to social processes management, especially progressive role in reform implementation.

Purpose of the Study

The research objective is the analysis of the structure, specifics, and dynamics of reformation process, laying the basis of the subject –object interactions of interest. It is necessary to explicate the concept the subject - object interaction in reforming as the social and philosophical concept that reflects dynamics of the reformation processes in the transformational practice of the society. What allows reforming to remain the oldest application of transformational activity and at the same time the contradictory phenomenon of social knowledge?

Research Methods

Despite heated debates, today there are no social and philosophical works devoted to the analysis of reformation process, its structure and elements; there are no works devoted to the reformer as the subject initiating reformation changes and reforms as the instrument of transformation. The analysis of the main components of reform practice allows for the creation of a scientific model. Understanding of the important elements of reform activity facilitates the development of the effective social change management mechanism.

System and activity approach serves as a philosophical and methodological foundation of the analysis of the reforming processes. To model the reformer, the reform and reform objects, the methods of theoretical analysis, comparison, modeling, the structurally functional analysis and institutional analysis were used. In the analysis of specifics of the Russian reform practice, the historical and comparative method and culturological forecasting have been used. The fundamental philosophical ideas form a theoretical basis of the research (Boudon, 1981, p. 133; Backley, 1967, p. 58-66; Brinton, 1965,p. 237; Eisenstadt & Helle, 1985; Nisbet, 1969); the works, which created the concept of social constructivism (Gergen, 1995; Phillips, 1997, p. 86); modern ideas of social changes were studied by Pirainen and Shama (Pirainen 1997; Shama, 1989).

The ideas by G.P.Schedrovitsky, G.S.Batischev, M.S.Kagan, E.V.Ilyenkov and E.G. Judin’s on the relationship between a person and the society based on social activity allow for explaining the interactive system “subject and object activity”. The social activity has both revolutionary-destructive and constructive form, acts as the reforming of social objects. The origin of reform efforts lies in in the reflection of the social practice.

The concept of social activity is a generic term in relation to reform activity. Nowadays, when we say "transformation of the society," we mean the modernization and reform, and scientific and technical revolution, and even innovation transformations. The search for the foundations of social understanding remains relevant since ancient times, it allows the researchers to reinterpret the ideas of the revolutionary era and to search for unique modifications in our time. However, there is no single meta theory explaining social dynamics and social change. The sociological “glue” is needed to link theories and ideas, as noted by Filippov and Farkhatdinov (2016, p.11)

The object of the research is the reforming in social practice as an interdisciplinary problem of the social change forms analysis; interaction of reform subject and object manifests itself in the reform mechanisms. Unlike the subject of social activity, reforming has the substantive modification of specific objects and the transformation in certain areas of society. Thus, the object and subject of the reforming distinguish it as specific social activity. However, what allows reforming to remain the oldest application of transformational activity and at the same time the contradictory phenomenon of social knowledge?

Trying to answer this question, we have to distinguish among such concepts as the reformer, reform, reformation and reforming process. Reformation cannot be separated from the reformer as the subject of the reform activity; from reform, that is a way to bring the change of social institutions, institutional and social communications, specific social, economic and political relations in different spheres of the society; from reforming process, including dynamics and interactions of all components to achieve the transformation of an object.

Obviously, the desire to reform is not enough; one needs to possess the authority. However, the authority is also not sufficient, practical skills of reforming are necessary. The clear vision of social object transformation objectives is not enough as it is necessary to implement (that is procedurally introduce) the reform. What determines or influences the implementation of the reform activities, its impact on the society? It is complicated to identify the specific features of the reformer as all the components of the reform process would bear the traits of the reformer.


The pursuit of the social, economic and political miracle as a natural outcome of the cycle of the Russian social reforms during late XX – early XXI centuries was in many respects utopian. The experience of other countries reform projects shows that the social and economic breakthrough depends on the careful economic planning and ideological consolidation of society, when social interests, the public objectives, and ideological beliefs are consistent.

Informative and communicative mechanisms of thinking of the reformer are the cornerstone of this interaction: the processes of providing of the subject of the reforming process and the social reality objects with normative values, that allows for description of the activity of the society (gnoseological aspect) and the reality of the object in the consciousness of the reformer in accordance with orientation in the implementation of reforms (ontological aspect).

There are some elements that distinguish reformation from the other social and creative activities:

- the reformer is a specific personality. He/she implements reforms, having the authority due to his/her political status;

- the object of activity for the reformer is a society as a whole and its specific spheres: institutions, structural-functional and social communication, and social and institutional relations,

- the scope of reform activities is the economy, law, politics, education, science and other social spheres that include specific social institutions and relations;

- the modeling of an object at the start of the reform process includes the creator, the target model accepted by agreement, intentions of the subject (the representer) and potential possibilities of the object;

- the mechanism of implementation includes technologies and levels of impact on a social object (in politics, economy, the social, spiritual or legal sphere);

- the technology of reforming contains three important components: the diagnosis, model (project) of social transformation and activity to correct the social object functioning;

- psychology of the collective ideas , that brings people together in joint actions;

The reformer is the initiator, the head and the personality who carried out the reform. The reforming process has its distinctive features such as goals-setting and activity focus on the object modification. The reformer performs the activity and wishes to see specific outcomes.


At the present time, it is necessary to distinguish the reform as a specific category of social change and analyze main types of reforms occurring in evolutional, revolutionary, modernizational and transformational processes of society. The social scholars give distinct evaluations for the results of the transformation process. It is not always possible to capture the object changes, side effects of the changes are not always visible and after they are developed, the opportunity to correct the reform process is lost. The myth of the reform success is used as an idea to motivate those who experience the burden of the implementation of the reform activities. After some time, these myths are also destroyed because of the impossibility of achieving the goals.

Those who were the driver of the revolution are no longer heroes, and those who was the developers of reforms becomes a short-sighted politicians. The paradox of the historical evaluation of the reform results lies in the psychology of perception by the researchers of the transformation experience that is available to them. What influences the psychology of perception of the researcher? It was not a coincidence that we started to talk about paradoxes. This perspective makes it possible to understand clearly, that despite the diversity of theories, concepts and views, a unified opinion and a universal theory of the social change phenomenon is impossible. There will not be a unified understanding of the nature and the meaning of change. However, we can always choose from a variety of opinions that they will meet our expectations in social practice and consolidate people in the correctness of the anthropological attitude that the changes in society are carried out according to the developing needs of the individual. The person in the late XX – early XXI centuries wants to manage changes, to be an active subject of history, to find creative meaning in the transformations that he/she started. But still, all products of creativity do not correspond to creative intentions and do not satisfy.

Summing up the result, we can give the operational definition of reformation in common cultural sense. It is a specific type of social the activity of the subject having authority to transform the society due to the political status; it is directed to deliberately modify the object (institution, social relations, structurally functional and social communications). It is carried out on the basis of the specially prepared reform mechanism which allows for transformation management and control. Public understanding of the purpose of the reform, reporting of the results, and the involvement of the social majority into the discussion of the reform project serve as a foundation of social trust. It becomes a regulator of stability in macro-micro changes, as determined by the Wilkes (2014).


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19 February 2018

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Gritskevich, T., Kazakov, E., & Konovalov, A. (2018). Value Of Reforming Social And Economic Models Of Interaction In Society Development. In I. B. Ardashkin, N. V. Martyushev, S. V. Klyagin, E. V. Barkova, A. R. Massalimova, & V. N. Syrov (Eds.), Research Paradigms Transformation in Social Sciences, vol 35. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 420-428). Future Academy.