After 1990, against the background of reforms and contextual changes, the structure of the Romanian society, the dominant expressions and processes, the spiritual configuration and the social mentalities were thrown in a state of disarray beyond comparison, and they began to prefigure the signs of a future that is alarming in many of its aspects.
New phenomena, social, economic and environmental risks emerged, along with logistic decompositions, new conflicts, specific phenomena such as cross-border crime (with trends that show the organization of underground networks), the emergence of “the third Romania”, a Diaspora representing up to 10% of the Romanian population.
The political and institutional changes, the integration in the European (EU) and Euro-Atlantic (NATO) structures determined the transformation of the profile of certain institutions and social bodies (the Army, for example), and imposed an accelerated pace of the reforms of the public administration structures (from the Government, the Parliament and the Presidency up to the structures of local administration) and of the behaviors of national social security system and of the social and national protection system.
The sociological research system responded to such changes by noting various states of affairs, investigating rhythms and trends and so on. The disadvantage of this type of reactive research is that its effectiveness on the medium and on the long term is weakened by self-induced gaps.
In anticipation, we will say that the program of the Institute of Sociology of the Romanian Academy must align its structure, its pace and its axis of ideas to the traditions that support it and, in equal measure, to the call of the times and to the initiatives of the Romanian Academy itself. Consequently, the Institute of Sociology has defined its program along five program requirements that are representative for the current views of the Romanian Academy. Such requirements also form the perimeter of the Institute’s management program which we consider as also covering the periods to come:
The requirement of interactive action and research
The requirement of “the Open Institute”
The requirement to pursue and highlight the worth of the “forgotten work”
The encyclopedic and restitutive requirement
The requirement of monographic research concerning fundamental issues
The requirement of interactive action and research This requirement directs the researcher towards collaboration with any initiative and any institutional or associative factor, in order to find solutions to Romania’s current problems. Responding to this requirement, we have initiated the project of a fruitful collaboration with the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, but also with the Foundation for Rural Civilization “Nişte ţărani” (A Group of Peasants), together with whom we have established the Peasant University. We also became involved in some of the foundation’s projects, among which the most important are three projects that have already been completed: The Health of the Romanian Peasant, Peasant Architecture and the Eco-Etno-Folk Film Festival. In the same working format, we have initiated the Institute’s collaboration with the Geopolitical Studies Center of the Bucharest University and with the Department and News Agency for Romanians Everywhere, the outcome of this collaboration consisting in the series of monthly debates dedicated to the issues affecting Romanian communities outside Romanian borders.
The generic requirement of “The Open Institute” The intention was to initiate a framework for international interactive research, and in this context we have promoted a new formula aiming not only at launching a program of international studies and debates, but also at attracting associate researchers from European environments within the Institute. Of the forms we can mention here, we will note the international seminar with the generic title “South-Eastern European Cultural Areas and Corridors”, accompanied by the interactive seminar focusing on the theme “A South-Eastern European Debate on Assymetric European Frontiers”, attended bi-monthly by specialists from Romania, Switzerland, Germany and Turkey, who are also associate researchers of the Institute. The activity is conducted in collaboration with the Unesco Department and Chair for intercultural and inter-religious dialogue and in collaboration with the Tuna Foundation, headquartered in Bucharest and Ankara. We can also place in the same context the initiative of certain translations from the works of Eastern scholars, who have been ignored – to the great loss of Romania’s function and mission as a “Cultural State” on the Lower Danube. The same Institutional frame can also comprise the bilateral seminars organized on the occasion of the visit of researchers from the Chinese Science Academy.
The requirement to pursue and highlight the worth of the “forgotten work” This is a category of works that already form a sad library of Romanian theoretical culture, starting with the totally unknown “System of fundamental laws of the society” which we owe to Count Alexandru Sturza, where Romanian culture is shown to be present at the origins of sociology as a science (Sturza’s work had been finished in 1813, while A. Comte’s Course of positive philosophy was edited in 1830), and continuing with: b) the study on the sociology and theology of the empire, which we owe to Dimitrie Cantemir and which is hardly known and c) the invaluable contribution of the School of Ardeal or certain aspects of the work of the Forty-Eighters, also ignored in several respects, in order to re-launch today the older initiative of a series of the “Virtual Library of Sociology” which began to be shaped by the project of the Dimitrie Gusti Virtual Library (a project that we will extend in collaboration with the Bucharest Metropolitan Library);
The encyclopedic and restitutive requirement This requirement gives expression to the great tradition of Mircea Eliade in Romanian culture. This requirement has already acquired its formula within the project of the New Romanian Encyclopedia, as well as through the projects related to an Encyclopedia of Traditions, coordinated by one of the Institute’s associate researchers, and to an Encyclopedia of Universal Sociology, which will allow us to put in their rightful places the Romanian theoretical contributions which are ignored in the other encyclopedias currently in circulation. Of the project’s 18 volumes we have already completed the first two, and we have launched the series of theoretical monographs dedicated to Romanian sociologists, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Craiova and the Oltenia Social Institute, and benefiting from the editorial support offered by the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of this university. This way, we will manage to confront one of the endemic diseases affecting the act of reception in Romanian culture which, 50 years after the creation of works of universal value, has not yet been provided with suitable monographs, which is more than careless indifference. The Romanian theoretical culture is a unique case among European cultures, due to the absence of monographs concerning great works produced more than one hundred years ago and which were left forgotten and subject to the careless and shameful indifference of the descendants;
The requirement of monographic research concerning Romania’s fundamental issues Monographic research reestablishes the broken link with the great tradition of Dimitrie Gusti and resumes the systematic research of some of the great social issues which, having been ignored, risk being transformed in one of the cause of the social inferno of tomorrow’s Romania. Along this line, we launched the fundamental program of rural research, within which the following works have already been completed: the monographic series “Viaţa şi moartea în satul românesc” (Life and Death in the Romanian Village) (which includes periodically edited volumes), “Tratatul de sociologie rurală” (Treatise of Rural Sociology) (whereby we managed to bring together for collaboration all the rural sociologists in Romania) and “Dicţionarul de sociologie rurală” (Dictionary of Rural Sociology), which are works of great proportions that have passed relatively unobserved even in the specialized media of the sociologist community, revealing yet another side of the illness of the act of reception in Romanian culture. In the same context, a series of monographic works were prepared, dedicated to small enterprises against the background of the need to adapt to the knowledge society, and, on the other hand, dedicated to the phenomenon of violence, of small scale and large scale crime, but also to certain reforming approaches, such as restorative justice. These activities have been conducted by the members of the Institute within the Organizational Studies Laboratory and within the Laboratory for the Study of Deviance. Within the same endeavors we can also evoke the activities of the Laboratory for the Study of Mass Communication or of the more recent “Social Europe” Studies or Social Theory Laboratories, dedicated to comparative research