PhD Thesis Studied Utopia through the Lens of a Modern Thinker

On 7 September, Martin Aidnik from the School of Governance, Law and Society defended his PhD thesis that focused on the meaning and the changes in Utopia, according to the different periods of Zygmunt Bauman’s sociology. The thesis was also tied to a study on the discussion of establishing a basic income in Estonia.

Martin Aidniku doktoritöö kaitsmine

Aidnik explains that the thesis is valuable as it links sociology with utopia. “Thus far, utopia has been regarded with some mistrust in sociology, and has been seen as conflicting with the research ambitions of sociology,” he says.

The author claims that utopia gives sociology an added dimensions, as it brings about the potential of change in the society. Among other features, utopia enhances the imagination in sociology needed to both understand and create a better society.

The thesis is innovative as it looks at utopia through Bauman’s sociological prism. It also links theoretical sociology with the ongoing discussion about the social and economic changes in modern Estonia.

Basic income has recently been a global talking point, and is seen by some as one option for the future. Aidnik studied the arguments of the supporters and opponents in the context of the hitherto liberal Estonian economic and social security model.

“I must add that basic income itself is not utopia. The link between the two has been created to show the possibility and vision of a different society,” Aidnik explains.

According to Aidnik, utopia is a kind of world that values the person and has become just by removing the focus from competition. The author believes that this can and should be what modern Estonia must aim for.

Martin Aidnik’s doctoral thesis “A Study of Utopia in Zygmunt Bauman’s Social Thought: Humanistic Sociology and Citizen’s Income” was defended in Tallinn University on 7 September. His supervisors were Researcher Erle Rikmann from Tallinn University and Professor Michael Hviid Jacobsen from Aalborg University, Denmark. His opponents were Associate Professor Mark Davis from University of Leeds and Associate Professor Poul Poder from University of Copenhagen.

The full thesis can be accessed via the Tallinn University Academic Library e-Vault ETERA.