The urbanization of transition: ideology and the urban experience
This paper debates the relationships between transition and urbanization by problematizing the operation of transition on three inter-related levels. Firstly, at the level of ideology, it is important to rehearse the understanding of transition from that of merely area-based reforms and rather understand it as a totalizing project of planetary reach, which completes the subjugation of the whole world to capitalism and crowns neoliberalism as the only global order. Secondly, at the level of practice, it is important to properly account for the spatializing effects of that ideology – which is not simply “domesticated” by local practices, but itself mediates the subsumption of pre-existing practices by capital, thus alienating them from their history. Thirdly, at the level of the urban: while urban change is usually portrayed merely as a projection of societal relations, the urban is actually the central stage where ideology mixes with the everyday, through which the societal change is mediated; new meanings, social relations, and class divisions are construed; and through which ideological transition achieves its practical completeness. What combines these three levels is the notion of urbanization of transition, which articulates the centrality of the urban in the spectacular post-socialist experience.
Since the 1950s, Moscow’s housing development has been underlined by modernist planning schemes. From the 20th to 21st centuries, the quality and appearance of apartment buildings changed, but housing estates designed as coherent neighbourhoods not only remain the principal type of housing organization but are still being constructed in Moscow and its suburbs. Though the concept itself has not been challenged by policy-makers and planners, by the end of the 20th century it became apparent that early housing estates have become a problem due to poor quality of construction. In 2017, the Moscow Government announced a highly controversial program suggesting the demolition of housing estates built between the 1950s and 1960s. Our contribution analyzes the history of housing estates development in Moscow aiming to understand what has led to the adoption of the 2017 “renovation” program. If this program ends up being fully implemented, along with planned renovation of former industrial areas, the cityscape of Russia’s capital will be completely redefined.
Modern capitalism favors values that undermine our face-to-face bonds with friends and family members. Focusing on the post-communist world, and comparing it to more 'developed' societies, this book reveals the mixed effects of capitalist culture on interpersonal relationships. While most observers blame the egoism and asocial behavior found in new free-market societies on their communist pasts, this work shows how relationships are also threatened by the profit orientations and personal ambition unleashed by economic development. Successful people in societies as diverse as China, Russia, and Eastern Germany adjust to the market economy at a social cost, relaxing their morals in order to obtain success and succumbing to increased material temptations to exploit relationships for their own financial and professional gain. The capitalist personality is internally troubled as a result of this "sellout," but these qualms subside as it devalues intimate qualitative bonds with others. This book also shows that post-communists are similarly individualized as people living in Western societies. Capitalism may indeed favor values of independence, creativity, and self-expressiveness, but it also rewards self-centeredness, consumerism, and the stripping down of morality. As is the case in the West, capitalist culture fosters an internally conflicted and self-centered personality in post-communist societies.
This volume offers a profound analysis of post-socialist economic and political transformation in the Balkans, involving deeply unequal societies and oligarchical “democracies.” The contributions deconstruct the persistent imaginary of the Balkans, pervasive among outsiders to the region, who see it as no more than a repository of ethnic conflict, corruption and violence. Providing a much needed critical examination of the Yugoslav socialist experience, the volume sheds light on the recent rebirth of radical politics in the Balkans, where new groups and movements struggle for a radically democratic vision of society.
The volume presents a new and unique view of welfare in Russia and Eastern European countries from an intersectional perspective of welfare, gender and agency. Since the collapse of socialism, the welfare structures of the post-socialist states have experienced large and rapid changes. The discussions on the reforming welfare models serve as the integrating theme for the volume. The authors discuss past and current developments and make comparisons in time and space between the early 1990s and late 2000s and between post-socialist and transitional countries. Welfare and political democratization are analyzed on the one hand as structures and processes and on the other hand as cultural meanings and through agency, which all are strongly gendered. Macro-level analyses and in-depth case studies by scholars from different countries and disciplines provide a wide and multilayered picture of welfare developments and gendered practices of social services, caregiving and civic activism, among others. Special attention is given to research methodologies, particularly on fieldwork and micro-level understanding of the related topics. The contributors come from social and political sciences and from both former socialist and 'Western' countries from Russia and Slovenia as well as the US, the UK, Germany and Finland.
The British socioemotional economy is marked by a tension between cosmopolitan humanitarian sentiments and the denial of sympathy for geographically close, but socially distant, strangers in need. The essence of this tension can be captured by the Dickensian notion of 'telescopic philanthropy'. A proper understanding of this tension would benefit from examining both short-term and secular trends - proximate and distal causal mechanisms. The paper is not explanatory in nature, but aims to generate sensitizing concepts, while at the same time seeking to steer the altruism, morality, and social solidarity literature towards a more active engagement with history, power, and ideology.
Drawing on the case of Russia’s post-Soviet education reform, the paper explores the interaction between borrowed reformatory solutions and culture codes in the process of neoliberal educational modernisation. Through the examination of the concept of ‘commercial service’ the article shows how bottom-up societal resistance is maintained and normalised in the real-life language of the reform debate among policy-makers, teachers, parents and the general public. Building on policy-as-discourse studies, the analysis unpacks specific conceptual frames behind societal interpretation of educational commercialisation. The article finds that the public debate is stalled by an extreme polarisation and a seeming intractability of such conceptual categories as ‘money’, ‘commerce’, ‘moral upbringing’, and ‘the soul.’ It further argues that instead of mediating borrowed and domestic social meanings, the official reform narrative serves to strengthen the polarisation of opinions, while leaving under-conceptualised a number of important links between market values of competitive individualism, material profit and entrepreneurship and domestic values of egalitarianism, collegiality, moral education and non-materialist values. The article concludes with a discussion of the role of the state in transmitting borrowed policy ideas to the public and the interplay between grassroots resistance and national education policies.
We address the external effects on public sector efficiency measures acquired using Data Envelopment Analysis. We use the health care system in Russian regions in 2011 to evaluate modern approaches to accounting for external effects. We propose a promising method of correcting DEA efficiency measures. Despite the multiple advantages DEA offers, the usage of this approach carries with it a number of methodological difficulties. Accounting for multiple factors of efficiency calls for more complex methods, among which the most promising are DMU clustering and calculating local production possibility frontiers. Using regression models for estimate correction requires further study due to possible systematic errors during estimation. A mixture of data correction and DMU clustering together with multi-stage DEA seems most promising at the moment. Analyzing several stages of transforming society’s resources into social welfare will allow for picking out the weak points in a state agency’s work.