Weber's and Sorokin's Analytical Treatment of the Russian Revolutions
The roots and dynamics of the Russian collapse of 1917-1918 provide an occasion for considering the question of the lessons that modern sociology can draw from the "sociology of revolution" of Max Weber and Pitirim Sorokin. This paper reviews the relevance of the approaches demonstrated by Weber's "understanding sociology" and Sorokin's "sociology of factors" on the testing ground of the emergency and confrontation of various forces of the Russian political scene in 1917-1918. Neither Weber nor Sorokin set forth methodological guidelines for their analysis of the Russian revolutions and this paper does not intend to reconstruct their views on the basis of the comparative taxonomies of their categories and concepts. This paper identifies the reasons for the opposing assessments which Weber and Sorokin gave for the causes of the Russian Disorder of 1917-1918 and the consequences they have for their claims to comprehend the revolutionary situation. The paper highlights the circumstances that prompted them to free themselves from obligations to their own theories and to use the authority of science to promote plans for Westernization, i.e. the proposed reconstruction of the political and state institutions of Russia on the model of the leading Entente states. The paper shows that the limits of the Weberian analytical vision of the Russian political scene were due to his consideration of the events in Russia mainly through the question of Russia's further participation in the World War I and its consequences for imperial Germany, while Sorokin's views were constrained by the fact that he represented Russian political positivism and Russian political masonry.