Ziņojums konferencē Veidojot pilsonisko kultūru Centrālās un Austrumeiropas valstīs,2001. gada 19. - 21. novembrī
On the way towards civic society it is very important to find out regularities of the formation of a certain society, thus finding the possibility to take part in society problem solving and its progression.
Sociology gives a vital investment in the cognition of the society. Statistical data and other quantitative measures give numerical description in different spheres of the state and society development. Research methods of quality used in sociology give possibility to delve into processes and problems enabling to get to know them in detail. Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of Latvia University are using this method of cognition in its longitudinal research on the project House within Oral history project. The aim of the project is research of Riga society in a definite period – from 1936, when the house was built, to nowadays. The research period is rich in crucial political, economical and social changes. The life stories of the residents of the house revealing subjectively the objective changes in the country, city and private lives are used as a method and source of cognition. Life stories and documentary materials of all 20 residents of the house are compiled. Repeated annual questionnaire provide the researchers with the information about the changes taken place during the year. Composition of the residents of the house is multiform concerning its ethnic groups, age and socioeconomic status, which enables the researchers to consider the body of the residents as a micro model in cognition of social processes (migration, stratification, social mobility, integration, etc.). Possibilities and advantages of using a life story method in the particular research appears at least in three aspects:
- Researching social processes under circumstances of fast transformation when a researcher himself is in the context of these transformations;
- Researching contradictory, latent and forbidden aspects of people life experiences which are connected with construction and reconstruction of the individual identity;
- Researching social everyday life within one society as well in comparison with others.
The research enables to see historical development of these processes in the retrospective of many decades, to record the situation at a certain moment, to analyze the emerging relations in the society and to value the openness of the society to these new relations.
Thanks to the Soros Foundation – Latvia, a new project Integration practice in oral history: social sciences at school has been formed which is considered to be an important continuation of the research project. Within this project, teachers and pupils from Latvia are getting to know the information and conclusions acquired in the oral history project and are being involved in acquiring methods of social cognition. So young people get information about important events in the history of the country and the society, obtain understanding of the developmental process of the society and develop their civic consciousness.