GRASSROOTS SOCIOLOGY, DATA HIERARCHIES, AND THE CHALLENGES OF POSING RELEVANT QUESTIONS IN AND ABOUT BELARUS
For years, the Lukashenka regime has been suppressing credible statistics on public opinion and independent sociological reports. As a result, the data on Belarus obtained by local grassroot initiatives, independent researchers, and established institutions both within and outside the country are severely distorted. In this essay, Andrey Vozyanov outlines how sociological work is hindered on many levels in Belarus, and describes how various groups in the society try to compensate for this deficiency. Vozyanov also addresses the marginalization of the leftist voices within the international public debate on the subject and presents arguments for more flexible and sensitive ways to approach empirical data given the major challenges that sociological work faces in the country.
Social anthropologist Andrey Vozyanov, analyzing his own experience and the evidence from his colleagues, reflects on the status of NGO workers in Belarus amidst the ongoing 2020 protests: "According to numerous critics of the protest movement, none of the protesters in Belarus are doing it right. Frustrated by the fact that the protest has not immediately resulted in the regime’s fall, different groups within it are blaming each other."