1st Edition

Authoritarian Modernization in Russia
Ideas, Institutions, and Policies

Edited By

Vladimir Gel'man

ISBN 9781138361232
Published August 14, 2018 by Routledge
226 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations

USD $52.95

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Book Description

Post-Communist Russia is an instance of the phenomenon of authoritarian modernization project, which is perceived as a set of policies intended to achieve a high level of economic development, while political freedoms remain beyond the current modernization agenda or are postponed to a distant future. Why did Russia (unlike many countries of post-Communist Europe) pursue authoritarian modernization after the Soviet collapse? What is the ideational agenda behind this project and why does it dominate Russia’s post-Communist political landscape? What are the mechanisms of political governance, which maintain this project and how have they adopted and absorbed various democratic institutions and practices? Why has this project brought such diverse results in various policy arenas, and why have the consequences of certain policies become so controversial? Why, despite so many controversies, shortcomings and flaws, has this project remained attractive in the eyes of a large proportion of the Russian elite and ordinary citizens? This volume intended to place some of these questions on the research agenda and propose several answers, encouraging further discussions about the logic and mechanisms of the authoritarian modernization project in post-Communist Russia and its effects on Russia’s politics, economy, and society.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction: Why Not Authoritarian Modernization in Russia?

Vladimir Gel’man

Chapter 2. Fathers versus Sons: Generation Changes and the Ideational Agenda of Reforms in Late Twentieth-Century Russia

Vladimir Gel’man, Dmitry Travin

Chapter 3. The Dilemma of Perception on Russian Strong State and Demand for Modernization

Markku Kangaspuro

Chapter 4. Framing Modernization in Russian Newspapers: Words, Not Deeds

Jukka Pietiläinen

Chapter 5. Authoritarianism and Institutional Decay in Russia: Disruption of Property Rights and the Rule of Law

Andrey Zaostrovtsev

Chapter 6. Russian People’s Front and Hybrid Governance Dilemma

Jussi Lassila

Chapter 7. Social Network Sites and Political Governance in Russia

Markku Lonkila

Chapter 8. Russia’s Post-Neoliberal Development Strategy and High-Technology Considerations

Anna Lowry

Chapter 9. How does the Government Implement Unpopular Reforms? Evidence from Education Policy in Russia

Andrey Starodubtsev

Chapter 10. Choosing between Bureaucracy and the Reformers: The Russian Pension Reform of 2001 as a Compromise Squared

Anna A. Dekalchuk

Chapter 11. Labour Reform in Putin's Russia: Could Modernization Be Democratic?

Ivan S. Grigoriev

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Vladimir Gel'man is a Professor at the Department of Political Science and Sociology, European University at St.Petersburg, and Finland Distinguished Professor at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki. He is an author and editor of more than twenty books in Russian and in English, including The Politics of Sub-National Authoritarianism in Russia (Ashgate, 2010), ). He was also a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin, the Central European University, Budapest, and the New Economic School, Moscow, and published numerous book chapters and journal articles in Europe-Asia Studies, Post-Soviet Affairs, International Political Science Review, Democratization and others.


While many authoritarian governments attempt ambitious economic modernization projects, fewer – indeed, far fewer that we realize – actually succeed. This timely book deftly explores the fate of the authoritarian modernization project in Russia, from its promising historical roots through its post-Soviet failures. It stands out for its comprehensive examination of efforts to modernize Russia in realms as diverse as education, high technology, labor, and pension policies. While leaving a glimmer of hope for future progress, the authors convincingly demonstrate that significant structural, political, and institutional barriers stand in the way of Russia’s authoritarian modernization project. An important book on a crucial topic for Russia and the international community, Authoritarian Modernization in Russia deserves to be read widely by policy makers and scholars around the world." - Juliet Johnson, Professor of Political Science, McGill University, and author of Priests of Prosperity: How Central Bankers Transformed the Postcommunist World (Cornell 2016).

Authoritarian Modernization in Russia is a stimulating analysis of post-Soviet economic, political and policy-making dynamics. An excellent team of Finnish and Russian scholars highlights trajectories of top-down reforms that prioritize economic advancements over political liberties. The book offers a thorough examination of challenges and constraints that affected the project of authoritarian modernization in Russia and adds sophistication to the debates on how Russia really works and whether it can modernize.

Alena Ledeneva, Professor of Politics and Society, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College, London