Arranging an “Iron Cage”, or How Institutions Become Human Enemies (Revising the Classical Theories)




tragedy of culture, creativity, objectivization, counterculture, institutionalization, routinization of charisma, sect, church, social movements, oligarchization, regression of entrepreneurial function, bureaucracy, iron cage


The article is focused on the logic and mechanisms of transforma­tion of social and group structures, their reconfiguration and ”mutation” in the process of crystallization of social institutions. Special emphasis is made on indentifying an ambiguous and paradoxical character of the institutionalization of social relations. The article examines precedent examples of social structure metamorphoses such as routinization of charisma, transformation of a religious sect into a church, transformation of counterculture into mainstream, oligarchization, bureaucratization, evolution of social movements. The author uses a number of classical sociological theories interpreting the phenomena of social and group and organizational transformation observed in many types of social structures. Besides that, the article analyzes the contribution to the topic made by M. Weber, R. Michels, J. Schumpeter, J. Ellul etc. The framework of the analysis is G. Simmel's  concept of the tragedy of culture highlighting a fundamental conflict between  individual’s creative aspect as a subject of actions and stable (institutionalized and objectivized) forms of collective experience which put multiple limitations on the manifestation of the actor’s freedom and determine the structural contexts of social life.  

Author Biography

Denis G. Podvoyskiy, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia

  • Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University), Moscow, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Philos.), Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology
  • Institute of Sociology of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (FCTAS RAS), Moscow, Russia
    • Leading Researcher