Maria A. Erofeeva, Natalia D. Lebedeva

RANEPA, Moscow


The following article provides an overview of the status of utopian imagination in sociological thinking. The primary focus is placed on the correspondence between the general symmetry principle and utopian cognitive frameworks. The authors consider two explanatory frameworks based on the Mannheimian distinction of ideology and utopia and study their possible interrelations (utopias as ideologies, ideologies as utopias). The authors examine two ways of criticizing utopian thinking: from the standpoint of ideology and everyday life. Only the latter deals with an epistemic significance of the utopia, while its development means withdrawal of utopian imagination from sociological thinking and subsequent reduction of social order to local interactions. Actor-network theory proposes an alternative criticism of utopia as a cognitive framework. Latour presents sociological thinking as a number of «as if» experiments where human and non-human entities are analytically considered as if they existed separately while they are hybrids. The general symmetry principle, thus, is an anti-utopia that discloses the logic of the preceding sociological thinking

Keywords: general symmetry principle, utopia, ideology, Mannheim Karl, utopian imagination, sociological thinking, everyday life, actor-network theory, sociology of knowledge, sociology of scientific knowledge.