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Article

Subnational Variations in Civil Society Development: The Surprising Case of Russia

The recent considerable body of research designed to explain variations in nonprofit development among countries tends to gloss over regional disparities that may pose challenges to, or distort, national conclusions. This article therefore takes such analysis down to the regional level in the “hard case” of post–Soviet Russia. What it finds is that, despite its reputation as a uniformly hostile environment for nonprofit organizations, Russia exhibits considerable regional variations in the scale and characteristics of its nonprofit sector. To determine what lies behind these variations, the article then tests four of the most prevalent theories, focusing, respectively, on variations in levels of prosperity, cultural sentiments, popular preferences for collective goods, and underlying power relations among key social actors. The results not only shed important light on the factors responsible for regional variations in Russia’s nonprofit development, but also demonstrate the general importance of bringing the subnational level into analyses of nonprofit development.