Michal Kaczmarczyk presents a working paper on ‚Dystopia – an Alternative to Sociology?‘

Dystopia originated as a variant of utopia and its inversion. In this respect it shares many characteristics of classical sociology. However, as a fictional genre dystopia broke with utopia in a much more radical way. In addition, it became much more than a mere counterpoint to the declining utopian literature. The major advantages of dystopia, as compared to sociology, proved to be 1) the self-confident future-orientation and 2) the inclusion of imaginaries into the realm of social ideas. Through the adoption of methods offered by narrative flexibility and non-determinist visions of individual and social change, the considered type of literature has been able to contextualize nad transpose social phenomena and mechanisms identified by sociologists. In result, dystopian worlds are instrumental in imagining potential experiences to which various social scenarios can lead. Moreover, they enable readers to look behind the curtain of the Unknown by delivering its specific visions along with their alternatives. Finally, dystopia is a dialogical endeavor because almost all dystopian authors use their works as tools to convey arguments and warnings that cannot be expressed in a typically scientific way. This dialogue takes place between different generations of writers, between different dystopias as well as between sociology and dystopia. This widespread and profound exchange might be seen as an opportunity to examine more carefully the complex relationships between ideas and images.