Формальные и неформальные гражданские инфраструктуры: современные исследования городского локального активизма в России
This paper explores the academic discussion about local urban activism in contemporary Russia and aims at revealing the specificity of Russian urban activism. The authors move away from the traditional framework of describing Russian urban processes as “post-Soviet” or “post-socialist,” and position Russian studies of local activism in a broader context of similar research conducted in cities of the Global North and the Global South. Building on the international theoretical developments, the authors suggest the concept of “civic infrastructures” as a promising tool for the analysis of local urban activism, distinguishing between “formal” and “informal” civic infrastructures. Formal civic infrastructures include legally regulated forms of civic participation, such as voting, participation in voluntary associations, municipal self-governance, organizing and cooperation of homeowners, participatory budgeting. Informal civic infrastructures include informal associations, friendship networks, as well as worldviews and ideas that
are focused on the creation and maintenance of a common good. The authors conclude that the dramatic contestation of urban spaces in contemporary Russia increases and informal civic infrastructures become more prominent. Scholarly evidence confirms the development of civic worldviews, subjectivities, and politicization of urbanites ready and willing to get involved in the process of decision making regarding their cities’ fate. Formal civic infrastructures, however, do not provide them with adequate tools for such participation. Building on the “strategic interaction perspective,” the authors suggest a theoretical model for local activism studies in Russia which includes tools, sensitive to the interactions of players involved in the urban development processes. They conclude that the integration of formal and informal civic infrastructures is necessary for a healthy civil society and efficient resolution of urban conflicts.