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Beyond a “varieties of capitalism” approach in Central and Eastern Europe: Some lessons from Ukraine

Colin C. Williams (Centre for Regional Economic and Enterprise Development (CREED), Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Sara Nadin (Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Peter Rodgers (Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




Since the turn of the millennium, a small corpus of post‐structuralist thought has emerged that challenges the dominant belief that capitalism is now hegemonic and that all economic formations are contrasting varieties of capitalism. This paper seeks to contribute to the development of this emergent perspective. The aim is to challenge the notion that the Ukrainian economy can be represented as some variety of capitalism by highlighting the shallow permeation of capitalist practices into daily life and the continuing prevalence of multifarious non‐capitalist economic practices.


To achieve this, evidence is here reported from a 2005‐6 survey that analysed the extent to which 600 households in Ukraine used capitalist and non‐capitalist economic practices in their coping tactics.


This reveals not only the limited use of capitalist practices in the everyday coping tactics of households in Ukraine but also how an array of non‐capitalist economic practices remain heavily relied on by a majority of households to secure their livelihood. The outcome is a call to tentatively reject the “varieties of capitalism” system of meaning because of what it excludes, prohibits and denies, and to open up the future of post‐Soviet Ukraine to other possible trajectories than simply some variety of capitalism.

Research limitations/implications

This snapshot survey of the everyday coping practices of households displays only that capitalist practices are not hegemonic and that multifarious economic relations persist and are widespread. It does not show whether or not there is movement towards greater reliance on capitalist practices.


It begins through the presentation of evidence on Ukraine to tentatively challenge the application of a “varieties of capitalism” perspective towards Central and Eastern European economies.



Williams, C.C., Nadin, S. and Rodgers, P. (2011), "Beyond a “varieties of capitalism” approach in Central and Eastern Europe: Some lessons from Ukraine", Employee Relations, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 413-427.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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