Journal section "Theoretical issues"

Reflections on the concept “crisis”

Šubrt J.

6 (36), 2014

Šubrt J. Reflections on the concept “crisis”. Economic and Social Changes: Facts, Trends, Forecast, 2014, no. 6 (36), pp. 70-84. DOI: 10.15838/esc/2014.6.36.6

DOI: 10.15838/esc/2014.6.36.6

Abstract   |   Authors   |   References
In the preface to the book “The Crisis of Our Age” its author Pitirim Aleksandrovich Sorokin argues that “every important aspect of the life, organization and the culture of Western society is in extraordinary crisis”. And he continues his words of prophecy: “Its body and mind are sick and there is hardly a spot on its body which is not sore” [Sorokin, 1948 (1942): 7]. Sorokin, of course, was not the only one who perceived their modernity as being in a crisis. T.G. Masaryk wrote about many aspects of the “crisis” of his time in the late 19th century. Georg Simmel studied the crisis of culture in the beginning of the 20th century [Simmel, 1983]; Sigmund Freud warned about the dangerous potential of human destructiveness, Oswald Spengler announced the “decline of the West” [Spengler, 2011], and Joseph Alois Schumpeter argued that cyclical manifestations of economic crises1 relate to the economy like heartbeat to a living organism. While Adolf Hitler was consolidating his power, Edmund Husserl [Husserl, 1972] lectured on “the crisis of the European Sciences”, and Georges Friedmann spoke about the “crisis of progress” [Friedmann, 1937]. The subject of “crisis” is still relevant and it continues to hold a special position in the context of the social sciences after World War II, when political and international crises become a frequently discussed issue. Since the 1970s the energy crisis and environmental crisis have been widely discussed. The late 1980s witnessed the collapse of the socialist system, and the onset of postmodernism emphasizes the issue of identity crisis. And that is not all: the warnings and critical visions of that time are highlighted also due to other concepts, which easily become an integral part of the conceptual luggage of social scientists from many countries – the concepts of “risk”, “catastrophe” and “collapse”


concept of crisis, manifestations of crisis situations, cycles of development, crisis in society, theories of social change, resolution of crisis situations

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