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Regular version of the site

Article

Managing Collective Action: Government-Sponsored Community Initiatives in Russia

Europe-Asia Studies. 2021. Vol. 73.

Russian authorities have been increasingly willing to facilitate apolitical self-organization to deal with day-to-day problems in people’s life. This enables the regime to channel the energy of the Russian civil society away from collective voice into the politically harmless collective exit. A case in point is community self-organization known as “territorial self-management” (TSM), which is supported by local administrations through cost-sharing and other means. We use a unique dataset on TSM in the city of Kirov to demonstrate that such initiatives accommodate a surrogate form of civic culture, where the sense of civic duties co-exists with skepticism about political voice and with the preference for government patronage.  TSM build loyalty to the government in the society, but could also spark broader collective action restoring the agency relation between society and government.