Research / Politics/ Society

Public Sociology Laboratory (PS Lab) is an autonomous research group focusing on politics and society in Russia and post-Soviet regions from a comparative perspective.

Public Sociology Laboratory was founded in 2011. At that time, and occasioned by the mass protests in Russia in December 2011, the founders of PS Lab began their research on protests and social movements in Russia, which subsequently expanded to include other post-Soviet regions. But PS Lab has a backstory too. Some of its members first met each other in 2007 as part of the OD Group—a student movement fighting for the transformation of education according to international standards in the Department of Sociology, Moscow State University.

Since this beginning, PS Lab members have collaborated on multiple collective research projects and the Laboratory has come to include more members. PS Lab researchers have defended candidate (kandidat) and Ph.D. degrees in the social and political sciences and are currently working on a number of collective and individual projects on topics such as: civic politics, media, state, and labor.

The main goal of Public Sociology Laboratory is to combine public relevance, methodological rigor, and theoretical depth in research. First, the Laboratory believes that the traditional academic distinction between scholarship and political commitment is a false dilemma and that there is no neutral, objective, and apolitical knowledge.

Consequently, PS Lab's goal is not to be unbiased or uninvolved, but rather to understand its own political assumptions and preoccupations. True academic knowledge can be achieved only through recognizing and taking into account one's own politically-engaged stance. Second, PS Lab insists that having political commitments without methodology means to be a politician, while to have a methodology without such a bias means to be an empty positivist. Thus, the Laboratory's goal is to find methodologically firm grounding for socially- and politically-engaged knowledge. Third, PS Lab addresses issues that have both social and theoretical importance. Namely, the Laboratory aims at grounding "higher philosophy" in solid empirical data. Lastly, PS Lab attempts to move knowledge beyond academic discussions and make it a part of public debate.

The main areas of research
Social movements, revolutions, and protests
Political reasoning and political consciousness of individuals and social groups
Labor under neoliberal capitalism
The political economy of authoritarian regimes

By uniting researchers with different disciplinary backgrounds, the Laboratory combines various theoretical approaches and methods in its empirical research.


All PS Lab projects are based on solid empirical data — mostly qualitative, such as interviews, observations, experiments—collected and conducted by the researchers. Moreover, the Laboratory is routinely involved in international debates within the field of contemporary empirically grounded social theory. PS Lab also collaborates with civic and political activist groups, as well as social and political democratic movements.

Public Sociology Laboratory, in collaboration with researchers from EUSP and St. Petersburg State University, has published a collective monograph titled Politics of Apoliticals: Civic Movements in Russia in 2011-13 (in Russian, Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2015). The monograph is still considered to be one of the main sources on protest politics in contemporary Russia. Researchers from PS Lab also publish their articles in Russian and international peer-reviewed journals, among which are: PLOS One, Politics, Qualitative Psychology, Current Sociology, Journal of Youth Studies, Global Networks, Social Networks, Business and Politics, Development and Change, International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, International Sociology, Post-Soviet Affairs, Europe-Asia Studies, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, East European Politics, South Atlantic Quarterly, Sociologicheskie Issledovania, Sociologia Vlasti, Sociologicheskoe obozrenie, Journal of Social Policy Studies, and others.

Public Sociology Laboratory's members also regularly publish media articles and take to the radio to present the results of their research for a broader audience. All PS Lab publications can be found in the "Projects and Publications" page of the website. Video and audio of public presentations are available following the "Video and Audio Materials".

Research Grants
Public Sociology Laboratory is involved in both self-initiated and grant-funded projects. Most PS Lab projects were begun as self-initiated and only received grant support afterwards. Over the years, Public Sociology Laboratory has received financial support from the Russian Science Foundation, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, the Khamovnki Foundation, and others.
Public Sociology Laboratory has extensive experience of collaboration with several international academic institutions, such as the Research Center for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, the Transregional Center of Democratic Studies at the New School for Social Research in New York City, the Andrew Gagarin Center for Civil Society and Human Right at the St. Petersburg State University, among others. Moreover, PS Lab collaborates with leading social science scholars from different countries, including, Nina Eliasoph (University of Southern California), Laurent Thévenot (Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris), Risto Alapuro (University of Helsinki), Donatella della Porta (Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence), Olivier Fillieule (University of Lausanne). PS Lab members have had internships, fellowships, and working experience in multiple international institutions such as: the University of Southern California, the University of California- Berkley, Duke University, the University Wisconsin-Madison, New York University, and the University of Helsinki. Moreover, PS Lab collaborates with and supports democratic activist organizations outside the academy, such as the Russian Socialist Movement, Doxa journal, and the Confederation of Labor of Russia.

Teaching Experience

Public Sociology Laboratory members are involved not only in research but also in teaching activities. Members have had experience teaching at the North-West Institute of Management RANEPA (St. Petersburg, Russia), Ural Federal University (Ekaterinburg, Russia), Narxoz University (Almaty, Kazakhstan), Tyumen State University (Tyumen, Russia). They have designed original courses, taught classical courses in the social and political sciences, and have taken part in the creation of BA majors in sociology and political science.

Researchers from PS Lab have teaching competencies in the areas of social and political theory, sociology of knowledge and science, political sociology, social movement studies, cognitive psychology, and others. Detailed descriptions of the teaching experience of each researcher can be found on the researchers' individual pages.

Community Activities

Public Sociology Laboratory participates in the public life of Russia and the world. Future PS Lab members took an active part in the student protest at the Department of Sociology, Moscow State University in 2007-08 which aimed to improve the quality of education in the Department. Some PS Lab members also participated in the "Street University at St. Petersburg" project (2007-12) which attempted to create a network of researchers, activists, and concerned citizens united by a desire to establish an alternative to the mainstream academic establishment model of knowledge production and distribution. PS Lab also supports the Russian Socialist Movement. One of the PS Lab members plays
in the anti-fascist musical band "Arkady Kots."

Reasons to Get in Touch with Us
To invite a member to give a public lecture
To invite a member to serve as an expert on one of the topics PS Lab studies
To invite a member to teach a short course
To order research
To propose or ask something we cannot imagine in advance
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