Grigorichev K. V.

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  • № 3, 2023

    • Baron Is Dead — Long Live Baronet (Political Mediation on the Border of Empty and Filled Space)

      Based on a series of expeditions to the northern area of the Irkutsk region, the article examines the process of the formation of a special kind of quasi-political actors, denoted in the text by the term “taiga baronet”. These actors emerge under the conditions when, as a result of the “optimization” of the structures responsible for collecting information about social space, the latter, from the point of view of authorities, becomes “empty”. Along with the array of interpretable markers of the filled space, a number of operators capable of interpreting them decreases and at the end disappears. As a result, the government turns out to be blind, physically deprived of the ability to perform managerial functions. At the same time, having become invisible to the eye of the authorities, this space retains itself as an administratively and politically structured territory, in which representatives of local authorities are forced to carry out the activities prescribed to them and legally assigned to them. Due to the “blindness” of the authorities, this activity inevitably turns into an imitation. The problem, however, is that the space that the authorities perceive as “empty” still have residents, for whom this space remains both social and “filled,” and who continue to expect from government institutions that they provide a certain amount of public goods. Thus, a conflict arises, manifested in complaints, appeals to law enforcement agencies and higher authorities, which poses a threat to the favorable picture drawn in the reports. It is the need to somehow neutralize this threat that gives rise to the need for an agent who is not bound by the restrictions associated with the authorities’ view and is able to focus on the “here and now” situation, without universal standards. This agent not only assumes a number of functions of the local government, but also acts as a universal mediator between the “empty” and “filled” space, between the local community and the state structure.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-110-3-23-46

      Pages: 23-46

  • № 2, 2022

    • On the Edge of the State: Political Formation of the Periphery of Power

      The article is devoted to the analysis of a special political form that arises in the “empty space” on the “edge of the state”, where actors of power exist remotely, beyond the boundaries of the “emptiness”, but they can be materialized in it. The authors use the term “periphery of power” to describe this political form. The article shows that “empty space” is not a vacuum, but it does not contain what the observer (in this case, the authorities) expects to see, what he can read and comprehend as some kind of entity. It is the absence of the expected objects, actors and practices that makes the space “empty”.

      The paper verifies the hypothesis that, being “empty” for an observer, such space is populated and has authorities. Empirically, the study is based on the results of two field works to the upper Lena River. The territory has neither settlement structure nor legal economic activity, and the number of registered residents is minimal. The nearest authorities (police, environmental protection, municipal authorities, etc.) are located on the borders of the territory, and the distance to the nearest large city (Irkutsk) is 500—700 km. Nevertheless, the field work there revealed a fairly large community with its own hierarchy, stable forms of communication, legalization and mobilization of remote authorities. For members of this community, staying in the “empty territory” makes no sense from the economic point of view. They are registered in other places (district centers or other regional cities, including capitals) and represent relatively successful citizens. However, the city remains for them nothing else but a source of resources (material, financial, etc.). They live exactly in the “empty space”. Social networks are formed in it, statuses and communication are built, which can be turned into the space of power.

      The insights that the authors obtained give ground to assume that this process is not an outlier, but rather represented a more general process of separating a place to earn money and a place to live. According to their conclusion, while maintaining the current trends, the “exit space” documented by them will expand, forming more and more new forms of “emptiness”

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2022-105-2-71-101

      Pages: 71-101

  • № 2, 2021

    • Forced Enforcement, or The State in Search of Enforcer

      The article examines a specific situation that is emerging in Russia and is associated with the erosion of the state monopoly of the legitimate use of violence. With the example of a seemingly routine private event that looks like a single failure in the system, the authors show that it represents one of the most significant practices of power holders, the essence of which they define as “forced enforcement” and analyze its origins and possible implications.

      In a gigantic country, the regions of which vary significantly in the level of their socio-economic development, enforcement of rules is associated with costs that exceed the amount of the resulting benefits. Therefore, the state limits its function as an enforcer to the control only over the key industries and does not encroach on the rest. However, under the contemporary conditions this tactic stops working. Since key industries are no longer able to meet the needs of the enlarged state, it begins to extend its control to the new social and economic spheres. The dramatic expansion of the area of application of the enforcement tools and complicated procedures associated with the need to control these tools themselves make them more and more costly. Thus, the task is to make them less costly, while maintaining, or even increasing, the volume of work. The very fact of intentionally setting such an insurmountable task makes the corresponding organs look for non-trivial solutions that are outside the state-imposed rules. Created as “enforcement machines”, they acquire their own mind and interests, and thus their own subjectivity. They no longer enforce the rules, but begin to form them, trying to shift the fulfillment of their functions to citizens and thereby pushing them to search for new enforcers that are not at all connected with the state.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-101-2-47-67

      Pages: 47-67