Introductory Remarks on the Meanings of the Centre-Periphery Distinction in General and in the Post-Soviet Space in Particular
This introductory chapter discusses the heuristic value of the centre-periphery distinction as a tool for the analysis of social, political and cultural processes in the post-Soviet space. The disintegration of the Soviet Union was tantamount to the end of a state structure that was based on a hierarchic relationship between a strong centre and various “peripheries”. However, the end of this quasi-imperial structure only strengthened the analytical potential of the centre-periphery distinction; when seen as a form of differentiation inside societal structures or organisations, this distinction allows for an instructive insight into processes of modernisation and democratisation in the countries that emerged from the breakup of the Soviet Union. It can as well help us to theoretically grasp the neo-imperial tendencies present in Russian society – and in Russian politics. As the approach of this volume is interdisciplinary, the aim of this introduction is to show how the centre-periphery distinction is used in various research traditions, ranging from political science and sociology to history and cultural studies.