Abstracts 1, 2020

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Paradigms of Social Development

Maxim Vilisov, Kirill Telin, Kirill Filimonov

From Resilience to Stability: What Makes Good Public Administration

Keywords: public administration, state system, resilience, stability

The study of the quality of public policy and administration, which can be understood along different categories ranging from “efficiency” to “stability”, is rightfully considered one of the most important tasks in the social sciences. However, despite the burgeoning literature devoted to assessing the functioning of state institutions, this research field still has serious substantive and methodological gaps.

The article documents a number of difficulties that researchers face studying the quality of state policy and efficiency of state institutions, which range from terminological cacophony to the bias in scientific constructions that heavily depend on the current socio-political context. On the basis of the analysis of these difficulties, the authors come to the conclusion that it is necessary to re-interpret the problem of evaluating state policy and the functioning of state institutions as a problem of resilience and stability of socio-economic relations and political processes that take place in the modern polities, and, with the help of such reinterpretation, they elaborate provisions that set the framework for a conceptual model for assessing the resilience and stability of public policy and administration.

The model proposed by the authors is designed to take into account factors that are usually ignored by other approaches to assessing “good” governance, in particular, the dynamics of social sentiments. The starting point of their theorizing is the hypothesis that the analysis of political and administrative activities in the public sector requires shifting the focus from the activities of governments to the state system, defined as part of the so- cial order that agents of the political process deal with. The social order does not include only state institutions, normative regulations and projects implemented by governments, but also stable informal practices of state institutions, local self-government as well as societal rules that regulate the interaction of people.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2020-96-1-7-27

Pages: 7-27


Maxim Kharkevich

Social Caging as Condition of Peace in World Politics

Keywords: international security, social interaction, state, international society, regional security complexes

The article proves that the structural reasons for the decrease/ increase in armed violence at the societal and international levels are the same. Researchers usually examine conflicts at these levels separately, so there is no general explanation for the change in their dynamics. The article attempts to offer such an explanation based on two interconnected approaches — international historical sociology and the English School of International Relations Theory. The essence of the explanation is the effect of “social caging” described by Michael Mann. Due to the mechanism of social learning, the pres- ence of restrictions that impede exit from social interaction leads to a gradual decrease in violence and increase in cooperation between actors. At the level of society, the functions of the “cage” are performed by the state, at the level of states — by the global capitalist system (in the economic sphere) and the international society (in the political sphere).

Having analyzed the explanatory power of the concept of “social caging” on historical examples, the author shows that it fully explains dynamics of civil conflicts: the stronger the state, the lower the likelihood of their occurrence. In the case of interstate relations, the situation is more complicated, because the international society exists at two levels — global and regional. The effect of the global international society is most profound for the relations between the great powers. The behavior of other states is regulated by “social cages” that take shape within individual regional security complexes. As a result, the downward trend in the number of military clashes is most pronounced between the great powers. At the regional level, this trend applies only to centralized security complexes, while standard security complexes lack in unambiguous trends in the dynamics of interstate conflicts.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2020-96-1-28-49

Pages: 28-49

Russian Polity

Ivan Bolshakov, Vladimir Perevalov

Consolidation or Protest? Smart Voting in Moscow Elections

Keywords: elections, opposition, electoral behavior, tactical voting, protest voting

The article is devoted to the study of the results of the 2019 Moscow City Duma election campaign and the impact of the “smart voting” strategy proposed by A.Navalny. The authors suggest that a high assessment of this strategy, which is often associated with the relative success of the opposition in Moscow elections, is emotional rather than scientific, and test the validity of this strategy using statistical and correlation analysis. They interpret “smart voting” as a kind of tactical voting, which has a completely different nature than a protest vote.

The authors measure a quantitative effect of protest and tactical voting by comparing the level of support for candidates in the 2019 Moscow City Duma and its previous elections, examine significant correlations between various indicators and evaluate possible effects of voter turnout, level of competition and the electoral potential of the district on voting outcomes. After that they conclude that the success of the opposition can be explained by the combination of two factors: the increase in protest sentiments, which reduced the electoral base of the pro-government nominees, and the decrease in the level of competition inside the opposition, due to both the “smart voting” strategy and disqualification of candidates. These factors largely ensured the flow of votes away from the administrative candidates and weak opposition members to the most powerful opposition candidates, thereby contributing to their victory. “Smart voting” contributed to this vic- tory, but did not determine the overall outcome of the elections. Its quantitative effect amounted to 5.6% of the vote, while the effect of the protest vote was 9.7%. Moreover, while “smart voting” played a decisive role in the victory of several candidates, it deprived of victory approximately the same number of opposition representatives who were not able to confront two competitors simultaneously.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2020-96-1-50-73

Pages: 50-73

Russian Regions

Leonid Bliakher, Konstantin Grigorichev

Internal Migration as a Political Problem, or Why and How Residents of the Russian Far East Move out

Keywords: internal migration, transnationalism, social ties, flowing community, political space, Far East

The article describes and explicates the political meaning of the social practices of trans-territorial communities that consist of former Far Easterners who moved to the European part of the country and residents of the Far East. The authors hypothesize that after migration people from the eastern regions of Russia do not completely break ties with these regions, but live as if they were “above the borders”, maintaining stable social ties with communities both in the regions of origin and in the regions where they migrated. The authors assume that the specificity of the eastern territories of Russia is determined by a combination of large-scale transregional and transnational migrations with intense intra-regional population movement. The permanent nature of migrations makes the territorial community a “flowing” community, for which migrations are a natural form of existence. Since the majority of the region’s population is relatively new settlers (one or two generations), ties to the place of a departure — usually in the western part of the country — are maintained. This creates the conditions for a relatively painless movement (return) in a western direction. The dual identity associated with the “flowing” position, active contacts with the host and home communities, and the use of the resources of both sides make it possible to propose a theory of transmigration as an analytical framework. This theory, traditionally used in the analysis of transnational migration processes, can also be very productive in the study of domestic Russian migration, because it provides the key to understanding the causes and mechanisms of its high intensive “western drift” and opens up opportunities for revealing the specifics of community organization in eastern Russia, as well as the repertoire of practices that determine the current migration (and not only migration) landscape of the country.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2020-96-1-74-97

Pages: 74-97


Dmitry Timoshkin

You Are No Longer Here: Domestic Colonization and Urban Political Regimes of Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk in City-Level Media

Keywords: city image, media, urban political regimes, frontier, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, discourse, development of built-up territories

The article is devoted to the confrontation between influential groups i.e., coalitions of actors who possess access to urban institutional resources, and residents of the areas that fall under development programs of built-up territories, in the media space of Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk. The author views the development programs of the built-up territories as attempts by influential groups to appropriate vast urban spaces in order to profit from it. At the same time, influential groups construct an image of the city and its certain parts in such a way that justifies the expansion, while residents who uphold their own ideas about disputed territories tend to disagree with this image. The positions of the opposing parties are reflected in public statements that ascribe to the disputed areas certain social and spatial meanings.

The article analyzes the arguments made by the parties when they try to define a symbolic space of disputed territories, speech techniques that influential groups use in order to claim their right for the city, and how residents perceive these claims. The purpose of the article is to document values that influential groups and residents attach to the disputed territories, narratives that justify ac- tions to design their future. Toponyms that denote disputed territories are inter- preted as “empty signs”, the content of which is set by the participants of the media discussion, who link them to various spatial, emotional or social categories. The image of the disputed territories of Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk, transmitted by influential groups, is examined through the metaphor of the frontier: the position of the authorities is compared to the position of a colonizer, who acquires territories via forced redistribution of the resources available to the local population. In their legitimizing narratives, the authorities justify seizure of this resource by the immaturity and deviance of its former owners, as well as through the imperatives of “progress”. At the same time, in some cases, the expansion of influential groups stimulates consolidation of residents, who in the future can turn into a significant player in the political scene of the post-Soviet cities.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2020-96-1-98-116

Pages: 98-116

Foreign Policy Perspective

Elena Ponomareva, Dmitry Krykanov

Balkan Breath of Beijing (Strategy and Tactics of Chinese Presence in the Western Balkans)

Keywords: Western Balkans, China, EU, “One Belt — One Road”, “checkbook diplomacy”, investment policy

The Western Balkans represent a strategically important area of world politics. Despite the geographical, historical, cultural and economic inevitability of the European integration, the final choice by the Balkan countries of EU as an “empire by invitation” is complicated by the continuing uncertainty about the common future, as well as Brussels’s high institutional and fiscal requirements. Under these conditions, the emergence of a new powerful player — China — is fraught not only with economic, but also with political transformation of the Balkan space.

The institutional basis for China’s penetration into greater Europe was the 16 + 1 format that the country initiated in 2012, uniting a group of post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe under the auspices of Beijing. Two events — Greece joining the initiative in April 2019 and the transfer of a controlling stake in the port of Piraeus to the Chinese company COSCO — have seriously changed the economic balance in the European south. The efficiency of the Chinese presence in the region is based on a set of measures, including large-scale lending, accompanied by an increased debt in the recipient countries; an increase in the volume of bilateral trade; creation of special economic and technological zones, currency swaps, mechanisms of paying in local currency for cross-border trade. Due to the weak institutions, lack of available funds, and low regulatory barriers, Beijing, through financing infrastructure projects that connect different parts of the region, is creating a new version of the Balkan Federation, which is able to provide a reliable access for Chinese goods to Europe and European goods to China. The analysis carried out by the authors shows that, using exclusively economic leverages, China is slowly, but consistently, occupying the Balkan space and thereby solves the strategic tasks of penetrating the EU countries.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2020-96-1-117-137

Pages: 117-137


Aleksey Mikhalev

Borders, Low Geopolitics, and the Soviet Heritage in Modern Inner Asia

Keywords: borders, geopolitics, Inner Asia, discourse, pan-Mongolism, Khalkha-centrism

The article is devoted to the description and analysis of the dynamics of everyday perception of the border and trans-border processes in the eastern part of Central Asia, which in fact represents the Mongolian world. The latter had been established many centuries before the appearance of modern states, but it is preserved to our days and is divided by the borders of states, where new identities that are inherent already in the Modernity epoch are being formed.

The author elaborates his research task on the basis of the fact that, in addition to “high geopolitics”, based on the ideas of political experts about space, borders and the world order, there is also “low geopolitics”, which includes images formed by the media, culture, art, and everyday routines of people. Although “low geopolitics” often exists outside the official discourse, it does not only affect mass attitudes, but also to a greater or lesser extent affects the process of political decision-making and the implementation of the “border regime”, becoming the basis for collective political actions.

A study conducted by the author allowed him to record serious changes in the daily perception of the border after the abolition of the visa regime between Mongolia and Russia. Both countries start to view the neighbor as an additional resource. Negative connotations in social networks and on the media pages are increasingly becoming peripheral. Although they do not disap- pear completely, they cease to predetermine collective actions and lose their mass character. Mutual interest allows one to overcome the existing differences in lifestyle and behavioral patterns. A special frontier zone is being formed, which today unites Russian and Mongolian civilizations rather than divide them.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2020-96-1-138-153

Pages: 138-153

Political Parties

Rostislav Turovsky, Marina Sukhova, Elizaveta Luizidis

New Players in Party Systems of Old Democracies: Is There a Threat to Political Stability?

Keywords: elections, Western democracies, electoral volatility, parties, nationalization of party systems

In the recent decades one of the main trends in Western democracies has been the emergence of new political players articulating the changing demands of the society (populists, nationalists, Eurosceptics, feminists, environmental movements etc.). By transforming into parties, these players challenge the existing party system, which makes it more volatile.

In the research presented in the article, the authors focused on the dynamics of the nationalization of party systems as one of the components of volatility, reflecting the territorial heterogeneity of the electoral support of political players. Their analysis of the last 4—6 electoral cycles in 18 Western democracies, which they compared with the elections of the 1960—1970s (viewed as a starting point) revealed the divergence of the modern processes of party system nationalization. According to the authors, the development paths of these processes are primarily determined by the within-country political context and individual characteristics of the evolution of party systems and almost never follow the patterns revealed in the earlier studies. Not only did parties with a long history of being active on the political stage keep the support of the electorate, but in some cases they even strengthened their positions. However, it is the old parties that are responsible for the main challenges for the homogeneity of the electoral space. The most successful new parties are not inferior to the old ones in their level of nationalization, which on the whole indicates a high degree of consolidation of the electoral space of Western democracies.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2020-96-1-154-183

Pages: 154-183

Book Review

Andrei Teslya

Detectives, Spy Novels and Nation-State Boltanski L. Mysteries and Conspiracies: In the Wake of Investigations / Translated from French by A.Zakharevich; Scientific editor O. Kharkhordin. St Petersburg: The European University in St Petersburg Press, 2019

Keywords: detective, spy novel, nation-state, nation, “evidential paradigm”

“Mysteries and Conspiracies” is a fundamental research study by Luc Boltanski written during the last (as of today) phase of development of his thought. The author considers the puzzles of classical detective and spy novels from the perspective of the analysis of the structure of social knowledge, in particular, sociological knowledge. The theoretical puzzle, in this case, is conditioned by the “evidential paradigm” in the understanding of Carlo Ginzburg and the question to what extent sociological knowledge repro- duces the models inherent in classical detectives and spy novels or is related to them. At the same time, the sociological examination of “mystery” and “conspiracy” within the framework of these genres represents an interest in itself.

According to Boltanski, these genres not only arise within the frame- work of a nation-state but also reproduce its image as a necessary framework. A detective is built upon local anxiety, secrecy as a designation of crime i.e., reducing the opacity to criminal in a legal and moral sense. In contrast, a spy novel, especially in its mature forms, reflects a large-scale alarm and, in particular, the state’s inability to serve its purpose. At the same time, the development of a spy novel as a genre demonstrates the logic of a “constructed reality”, forming a compelling rhyme with synchronous sociological theories. Boltanski distinguishes between the sociological cognition and the models of “the imaginary” in criminal investigations, investigative journalism, detective and spy narratives. At the same time, the author points out to the similarity between the sociological imagination and the great social novel of the 19th century, suggesting that the latter can be regarded as a model for maintaining a critical attitude to a cognizable reality.

DOI: DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2020-96-1-184-191

Pages: 184-191


Anastasiya Tumanova

Rules of Game for Bureaucratic Empire: Political Routine of the Late Imperial Russia in the Discourse of Political Science Soloviev K.A. The Political System of the Russian Empire in 18811905: Problem of Lawmaking. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2018

Keywords: political routine, legislative process, political institutions, political culture, late imperial Russia

The article presents a review of the monograph by K.A.Soloviev, “The Political System of the Russian Empire in 1881—1905: Problem of Lawmaking.” The book is devoted to the routine political process in the late imperial Russia and, in essence, contains political analysis that has dived into the past. According to A.Tumanova, Soloviev’s major innovation consists in abandoning the established interpretation of political history as a presentation of events in a chronological order and in shifting the focus from legislative acts and agents who played a major role in their preparation to institutions — models of organizations’ functioning, formal and informal practices that determined the scope of their political activity and mechanisms of interaction, rather than organizations per se.

Soloviev’s monograph talks about the strength and weakness of the autocratic-bureaucratic model of governance. This study can be considered exemplary due to its fundamental nature, the scale of the scientific problems, the depth of the analysis of the historical sources and the style of historical writing. The book also raises a wide range of important contemporary questions: is there a public field of politics under an autocratic regime? What is the meaning of legality under an absolute monarchy? How do feedback mechanisms between government and society work? How does the system of checks and balances in an autocratic state work? Who, in addition to state institutions, is involved in lawmaking? Does bureaucracy represent the state and to what extent is it in solidarity with state power? What is the reason for the stability of the “bureaucratic empire” and what is its vulnerability?

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2020-96-1-192-201

Pages: 192-201