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Laboratorium: Russian Review of Social Research

Laboratorium is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal produced by an international group of scholars. The bilingual journal, which comes out three times a year, publishes materials based on empirical social research in Russian and English languages.

The journal is published with the financial support of the Centre for Independent Social Research (CISR), an independent nonprofit organization.*


Current Issue

Thematic Issue
Postindustrial Urban Landscapes

Guest editor Agnieszka Pasieka

Notes on the “Worthless Dowry” of Soviet Industrial Modernity: Making Working-Class Russia Habitable

Jeremy Morris

Despite a narrative of deindustrialization, monotowns and former industrial settlements are numerous in today’s Russia, and are significant not only in terms of the territory they occupy and the population they host but also because of the particular economic and cultural practices, logics of community building, and particular types of “connectedness” and horizontal networks that make these places special and habitable for their “dwellers.” This article offers an ethnographic account of the daily lives of blue-collar workers in a former industrial town in central Russia.

A Tale of Two Ahmadiyya Mosques: Religion, Ethnic Politics, and Urban Planning in London

Marzia Balzani

Built on the site of a disused dairy in London, the Ahmadiyya Baitul Futuh Mosque is simultaneously a regenerated postindustrial site, a signal achievement for the community which built it, an affront to local Sunni Muslims, a focus for Islamophobic protest, and a boost to local regeneration plans and tourism. Using town planning documents, media articles, and ethnographic fieldwork, this article considers the conflicting discourses available to locals, Muslim and non-Muslim, centered on the new Baitul Futuh Mosque and an older, smaller, suburban Ahmadiyya mosque located nearby.

Manufacturing Nostalgia: A Case Study of an Industrial Museum in New England

Agnieszka Pasieka

This paper discusses the functioning of an industrial museum located in New Britain, Connecticut. In the early twentieth century, New Britain was known as the Hardware Capital of the World. The curtailing and shutting down of factories, which began in the 1970s, affected workers’ professional trajectories and social ties and also led to an ethnic reconfiguration of the urban realm. Conceived in the early 1990s, the New Britain Industrial Museum collects and exhibits photos and items that used or continue to be produced in the city. Documenting the changing landscape of the industry and, through that, of the city itself, the museum emphasizes the city’s and its inhabitants’ potential. In doing so, it strives to serve as a bridge between the city’s past, present, and future.

Community as a Given Versus Community as a Process: Strategies for Studying Small Towns

Ivan Pavlyutkin, Greg Yudin

Community studies in social sciences tend to treat community as a given object with structural characteristics to be revealed. This approach is particularly adopted by researchers of local communities, including small towns. However, it is questionable whether all spatially localized social aggregates can be rightfully called communities. This paper argues that even though this approach has a long tradition in social sciences, it cannot deal adequately with the key issue of integration and disintegration of communities. The authors rely on classical sociological theory to suggest a strategy of analysis that pays attention to the dynamics of social cohesion and considers communities from the standpoint of unification processes.