Carnival Time: Russian Higher Education and Science in the Postmodern Era
Since the end of the twentieth Century to the present, society has been undergoing deep systemic changes, which are accompanied by crisis phenomena. But the crisis affects society as a whole and science and education, as its components, in different ways. What hopes of the society should be associated with science and education? Communities of intellectuals (universities) go through the following stages in their formation: classical, modern, postmodern. Postmodernism brings polycentrism, fragmentation, deconstruction, stylization, collage, modeling and simulacra, and serialization to universities and research organizations. If classical and modernist views on intellectuals and Universities assumed that their activities were aimed at producing new knowledge and a new person, the postmodern transformation significantly changed academic communities and their environment. In order to better understand the essence of what happened, the authors refer to the phenomenon of carnival in the interpretation of M. M. Bakhtin. The most important sign of carnival is that everything is not what it seems. According to the sophists of antiquity, intellectual activity becomes a paid service. Is it appropriate to say that in a modern University teaching becomes a form of spiritual prostitution? Yes, it is appropriate, provided that the carnival of what is happening in the Russian University of the XXI century is determined by the change of roles and priorities of teachers, students, and support staff. The intensity and specificity of the carnival in a particular University depends on the specifics of the decision about the purpose of the University: issuance (sale) of a state-issued diploma, production of knowledge and/or training of qualified specialists. A serious external factor that reduces the authority of teachers and scientists is strengthening of trends towards relatively autonomous development of technologies and technics, which is clearly expressed in the phenomenon of the “revolution of interfaces”. Society is also changing, becoming the “society of the spectacle”, where the development of science, theater and professional sports has more and more similar characteristics. The crisis in science and education has always been a feature of postmodernism, an existential problem of intellectuals, which leads many of them to leave the walls of universities and scientific institutions.