On Friday, December 15th please join us for “Running to Stand Still: The Structure of Agency in Russian Public Policy” with Samuel Greene (King’s College London). This event is part of the Occasional Series, sponsored by the NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia.
Observers could be forgiven for thinking that there is little or no policy in Russian politics, that it is merely an elite game of rent-seeking and autocratic management. That narrative, while mostly true in broad terms, masks a great deal of ‘mundane’ policymaking, and few areas of social and economic activity have escaped at least some degree of reform in recent years. This article takes a closer look at three such reform attempts – involving higher education, housing and regional policy – in an attempt to discern broad patterns governing how and when the state succeeds or fails in its policymaking. The evidence suggests that the tendency of both masses and mid-level elites to rely on informality – usually interpreted in the literature as an agent-led response to deinstitutionalization and the breakdown of structure – acts as the strongest brake on state power. More than a quarter-century into the post-Soviet period, the article argues, these seemingly transient patterns of action and reaction have in fact become entrenched, structural elements in Russian politics.
Samuel Greene is Director of the Russia Institute at King`s College London and senior lecturer in Russian politics. Prior to moving to London in 2012, he lived and worked in Moscow for 13 years, most recently as director of the Centre for the Study of New Media & Society at the New Economic School, and as deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. His book,Moscow in Movement: Power & Opposition in Putin`s Russia, was published in August 2014 by Stanford University Press. He holds a PhD in political sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science.