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    In his introduction to the archival cluster of essays on children’s reading prac-tices, Serguei Oushakine provides a brief review of important late Soviet attempts to devise a conceptually innovative and methodologically robust sociology of reading and literature. Associated with the State Library named after V. Lenin, a group of social scientists approached literature as an institution whose main aim was to articulate and popularize the basic features of the individual and group identity. Staying away from psychological ex-planations, these researchers foregrounded instead the specifically literary dimension of reading: unlike many other artistic and expressive forms, literature is capable of thematizing — that is, organizing in a coherent narrative — abstract values, unclear assumptions, and background orientations. Ap-proaching literature phenomenologically, morphologically, and functionally, these scholars significantly modified the dominant understanding of read-ing, seeing it as a process of modeling the reader’s perception of themselves, their human and non-human environment. This late soviet approach to literature and reading, then, is used to frame the archival essays collected in the cluster. Surprisingly, many of them appear to follow the logic crystallized in the 1970s-1980s. There were some dramatic differences, too. Earlier works on children’s reading practices tended to preoccupy themselves with phenomenological aspects of reading, its moral and developmental consequences; the sociological studies that emerged in the late 1920s, exhibited a very different trend: collecting large data about thematic interests of different demographic categories of readers became the goal in itself. As a result, reading as a social practice became radically “depopulated”: individual readers were overshadowed by statistical groups, and reading practices were replaced by readers’ library requests. Sociology of reading, in other words, was quickly equated with collecting and organizing various data. It was precisely the hegemony of this positivist approach that would be challenged in the 1970s.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)12-26
    Number of pages15
    JournalDetskie Chtenia
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Dec 19 2022

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Education
    • Literature and Literary Theory


    • functionalism
    • identity
    • imagined communities
    • late Soviet humanities
    • literary industry
    • positivism
    • readership
    • sociological conceptualism


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