In 2010, Russian authorities presented a new draft law on education, which immediately became controversial. The essay examines whether user groups (parents) and low-ranking sector employees (teachers) were active in the movement critical of the reform, and how the state responded to the anti-reform movement. The movement consisted of several networks and organisations with no central node. It included teachers, parents and activists from both non-systemic groups and systemic opposition parties. Pressure from below by networks and organisations was combined with pressure from actors situated above in the political system, that is, in the Duma. Since the movement was welfare-oriented rather than fundamentally regime-critical, the Russian authorities tolerated open criticism both from civil society and inside the Duma. Some gains for teachers were won, but the movement’s proposed amendments and demands were generally rejected or only introduced in revised form.
The article discusses the multiple modernities approach in historical sociology and its relevance for the study of Russian modernisation. From this perspective the imperial dimension of Russian modernisation has been emphasised by Johann Arnason who analyses the modernisation process in pre-revolutionary Russia and the imperial aspect of the Soviet model of modernity. It is argued in the article that the multiple modernities approach can also be applied to post-communist transformations. The persistence of "imperial nationalism" in contemporary Russia is regarded as a specific legacy of the Soviet model.
IN DECEMBER 2011, ‘A VOLCANO OF SOCIAL ACTIVISM THAT had long been dormant started to erupt in Russia’ (Petrov 2012). A tidal wave of mass protest movements swept through the capital and then engulfed scores of Russia’s regions. These demonstrations came as a great shock to the Russian leadership. After decades of the passive acceptance of the status quo it appeared that civil society was at last wakening up, and that it was members of a rising middle class which were at the forefront of the protests against the regime. As Aron observed, ‘No longer burdened with providing for the basic needs of their families and now enjoying perhaps unprecedented, for Russia, personal freedoms and prosperity, the middle class’s more socially active members appear to believe they are entitled to become stakeholders in a functioning, fair, and less corrupt state’ (Aron 2012, p. 4)
In present-day Russia, the government’s approach towards the non-profit sector is in many ways ambivalent and contradictory. The Russian government follows two opposing strategies: it largely suppresses independent and potentially critical NPOs, while at the same time co-opting those that function in line with government priorities. The essay analyses the ways in which NPOs have perceived the dual nature of governmental policies and how these policies have affected the non-profit sector in Russia’s regions. The essay argues that, by creating divisions between different types of NPOs, government policies have exerted a negative influence on the internal solidarity of the Russian non-profit sector.
Review of Ora John Reuter's book, 'The Origins of of Dominant Parties: Building Authoritarian Institutions in Post-Soviet Russia'.
This essay reviews the characteristic features of the Soviet ‘shadow economy’ by examining the activities of a major construction enterprise headed by N. M. Pavlenko from 1948 to 1952. This was the largest currently known private illegal enterprise of the Stalinist period. Pavlenko’s organisation built dozens of roads and railways under contract to state entities. Based on newly accessible archival documents, the methods of Pavlenko’s organisational activity and the reasons for its lengthy existence are considered. The author argues that, regardless of its extraordinary scale, Pavlenko’s enterprise was in fact typical of the Stalinist ‘shadow economy’, and that future archival research would probably reveal that this shadow economy was far more significant than has been understood to date.
This article explores the relationship between ‘memory’ and ‘place’ in understandings of urban change in Central Asia. Drawing on narratives of long-term residents of two Central Asian cities we investigate the ways in which positive memories of the Soviet past emerge when people speak about the urban environment of today. We explore why such fondness for the Soviet past has emerged; what elements of the past are most cherished, and which urban communities remember these elements. We ask what these forms of memory reveal about what has been lost and what this tells us about the present anxieties of urban residents.
Political and economic outcomes depend, in part, on the quality of the officials making policy. Many scholars argue that free and fair elections are the best method for selecting competent officials. Others, however, argue that elections can lead to the selection of amateurs, demagogues, and political sycophants. Under this view, sub-national officials should be appointed by centralized planners who are insulated from local popular pressures. In this paper, we use original data on the biographies of Russian regional governors to determine whether the backgrounds of governors elected between 1992 and 2004 differ from the backgrounds of appointed governors post-2004. We find that the two groups are surprisingly similar along many dimensions. Elected and appointed governors have similar career backgrounds, ages, educational profiles, and ethnicities. But there are some important differences as well. Elected governors are more likely to have held elected office and be from the region where they serve. Appointed governors are also more likely to be federal bureaucrats, hold a graduate degree, and have education in economics. Finding that the selection mechanism explains only a small portion of the variance in governor backgrounds, we conclude the paper by speculating on other possible explanations for variation in governor background.
Effective systems of vocational education are crucial to economic and social development. However, coordination of labor market demand and supply of skill requires either well-functioning labor market institutions or institutionally-embedded strategic partnerships among government, labor, and employers. In particular, the transplantation of German-style dual education methods to a different environment poses significant institutional dilemmas. Russia presents a useful case for examining the conditions under which such arrangements can be established. Based on a series of interviews in six Russian regions and a set of case histories, we seek to draw testable hypotheses that can be applied to other settings.
Review of Isaiah Berlin's The Soviet Mind. Russian Culture under Communism
The primary elections of United Russia party serve as a tool for party organization and voter mobilization. In the run-up to the 2016 national legislative elections, the strength of United Russia’s regional political machines was tested in a massive campaign of intra-party elections. This study traces the history United Russia’s primaries in 2007-2011, which allows for arriving at a better understanding of the multiple roles played by quasi-democratic institutions in an authoritarian political context. On the basis of these findings, we employ United Russia’s capacity to mobilize voter turnout in primary elections as an indirect indicator of the strength of party-controlled political machines. Our analysis of the results of the 2016 Duma elections in 83 regions of Russia demonstrates voter turnout in the spring 2016 party primaries of United Russia to a significant extent explain cross-regional variation in party success.
This article provides a new synthesis on the origins of self-management in Yugoslavia on the basis of new archival research. It rejects the dominant view in the historiography that self-management arose merely as an ideological justification for the split with Stalin's USSR in 1948. Rather, it demonstrates that the introduction of workers' councils was part of an elaborate effort on the part of the Communist leadership to return to its pre-1948, proto-‘reform Communist’ strategy that was remarkably open to interaction with the world market. This is shown to have implications for understanding Yugoslavia, Eastern Europe, the Cold War and Communism.