Article Information


Alexander Malinkin (

Institute of Sociology, Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences (FCTAS RAS), Moscow, Russia

Citation: Malinkin A. (2020) Sotsial'naya priroda nagrady: issledovaniye po sotsiologii vlasti [The social essence of the award: a study on the sociology of power]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 23(3): 188–219. (in Russian)

Abstract. The author focuses on the essence of the award (first of all, state award). The award is understood as a social relation. A distinction is made between a phenomenally given award sign and an award as a positive (incentive) sanction of the authority. The award is considered as a multidimensional symbol. It symbolizes first of all the feats, merits, services, for which it is awarded; social success of the person awarded and social status achieved by him; authority and the legitimacy of the officials. Respectively, the award has three basic forms of the symbolic significance: social-ethical, individual-personal, overbearing-political. The core of the awards essence is a social-hierarchical overbearing-political attitude whose vector is primary always directed from top to bottom. The ideal typical structure of award relations is ternary: the award is a special form of the sustained social interaction between three social actors: (1) the founder of the award and the awarding actor, (2) the actor who receives the conditions for achieving award and deserves it, (3) the society as an observer of the relationship between the first two actors and as a potential participant in the struggle for the awards. The state award systems represent the non-verbal means of communication of authorities and people with the reciprocal contingent selectivity, overbuilt on the natural usual languages. The society's consensus on the value significance of the award is a necessary condition for recognizing the spiritual and moral values contained in the award, which form the foundation of the political ideology prevailing in society, as generally valid. These values determine the choice and character of the social ethical virtues, and they in turn define selective criteria based on which representatives of the ruling authority recognize the actions relevant for the state and society and separate them from the ordinary actions. It also explains why the essence of the award cannot be understood in the light of the doctrine of symbolic exchange. The legitimacy of power domination is a prerequisite for award relations because it creates a moral-willed consensus between their three actors. The social institution of the award affairs operates effectively only due to the legitimacy of power dominance, however, the principle of voluntariness in regard to the conditions for the attaining awards is thereby not violated.

Keywords. Award, award relations, social institution of the award affairs, symbol, significance, values, social hierarchical overbearing-political attitude, legitimacy of power dominance.


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