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Article
Publication date: 7 July 2015

Jolanta Aidukaite and Christian Fröhlich

The purpose of this paper is to explore urban mobilisation patterns in two post-Soviet cities: Vilnius and Moscow. Both cities were subject to similar housing and urban…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore urban mobilisation patterns in two post-Soviet cities: Vilnius and Moscow. Both cities were subject to similar housing and urban policy during Soviet times, and they have implemented urban development using neoliberal market principles, provoking grassroots opposition from citizens to privatisation and marketisation of their housing environment and local public space. However, the differing conditions of democratic Lithuanian and authoritarian Russian public governance offer different opportunities and set different constraints for neighbourhood mobilisation. The purpose is to contrast local community mobilisations under the two regimes and highlight the differences between and similarities in the activists’ repertoires of actions in two distinct political and economic urban settings.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper employs qualitative methodology using data from semi-structured interviews conducted with community activists and state officials, presented using a comparative case study design.

Findings

Although, citizens’ mobilisations in the two cities are reactions to the neoliberalisation of housing and local public space, they take different forms. In Vilnius they are institutionalised and receive formal support from national and local authorities. Moreover, support from the EU encourages organisational development and provides material and cognitive resources for grassroots urban mobilisations. In contrast, residents’ mobilisations in Moscow are informal and face fierce opposition from local authorities. However, even in an authoritarian setting, grassroots mobilisations evolve using creative strategies to circumvent institutional constraints.

Originality/value

Little attention has been paid to grassroots urban mobilisations in post-Soviet cities. There is also a lack of comparative attempts to show variation in post-Soviet urban activism related to housing and local public space.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 35 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 35 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 7 July 2015

Costanza Curro

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the form of young male socialisation referred to as birzha, in its relation to public space in Georgia. Birzha defines a group…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the form of young male socialisation referred to as birzha, in its relation to public space in Georgia. Birzha defines a group of young men who meet regularly in urban open spaces in Tbilisi’s neighbourhoods. Partly considered as the initial step of a criminal career, belonging to birzha is a mark of identification with one’s local group. The contested nature of public space is illustrated by the conflicting relation between birzha’s bottom-up use of public space and top-down projects of urban renovation sought by Saakashvili’s government.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing upon literary and media sources, and analysing fieldwork data collected in 2008-2009 and 2014, this study explores how the announced (re)construction of public space under Saakashvili resulted in institutional interventions from above which curtailed public space’s accessibility.

Findings

The present analysis points out contradictions in Saakashvili’s government’s political narrative on public space. In the institutional focus on a future of order, transparency, and democracy, birzha is an insistent reminder of an informal and corrupted past. Banned from futuristic projections of the public space, in the present birzha is annihilated by state repression, enforced in opaque zones out of public sight.

Originality/value

Focusing on a largely overlooked phenomenon in social science research, the paper highlights the ways in which conflicting approaches to public space affect the relation between political institutions and citizens. Delving into ambivalent public/private divides in post-socialist societies, the study of Georgian birzha offers an original angle for investigating the contestation of urban public space in relation to political legitimacy and transparency.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 35 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 July 2015

Lela Rekhviashvili

The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the reasons behind a decade long contestations between the Georgian government and the petty traders over the access to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the reasons behind a decade long contestations between the Georgian government and the petty traders over the access to the public space for commercial use.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper relies on the repeated ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Tbilisi in 2012 and 2013. The ethnographic interviews with legally operating traders and illegal street vendors are supplemented by the in-depth interviews with the representatives of the city government and secondary literature on Georgia’s post-revolutionary transformation.

Findings

Bridging the critical literature on the politics of the public space with Polanyi’s theory on commodification of fictitious commodities as a precondition of establishment of a market economy, the author argues that for the Georgian government control of the public space was necessary to pursue neoliberal marketisation policies. These policies required removal of the petty traders from public spaces because the state needed to restrict access to public space and limit its commercial usage to delineate public and private property and allow commodification of the urban land and property. As the commodification intensified and the rent prices started growing and fluctuating, the access to the public space became even more valuable for the petty traders. Therefore, the traders developed subversive tactics undermining the division between public and private space and property.

Originality/value

The paper demonstrates the importance of enforcing the public-private divide in the process of establishing a market economy in transitional settings. Moreover, it illustrates little discussed social costs of establishing such a divide.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 35 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 April 2015

Huseyn Aliyev

The purpose of this paper is to suggest that informal practices and institutions of post-Soviet countries differ from informality in other post-socialist regions and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to suggest that informal practices and institutions of post-Soviet countries differ from informality in other post-socialist regions and, therefore, proposes categorizing it as “post-Soviet informality” – a composite definition that extends beyond the concept of “informal economy” and encompasses, along with economic activities, social and political spheres.

Design/methodology/approach

The arguments of the paper are based on a comprehensive analysis of secondary sources.

Findings

This paper shows that, owing to the effects of antecedent regime’s legacies and the problems of post-communist transition, for the proper analysis of informality in post-Soviet countries it needs to be based on an own concept.

Originality/value

This study, in contrast to the existing literature on informality in post-communist spaces, specifically focuses on the informal sphere of post-Soviet countries, suggesting that the informal institutions and practices thriving across the vast post-Soviet space not only differ from the informal spheres elsewhere in the world, but also from informality in other post-communist regions.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 35 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Book part
Publication date: 14 January 2021

Iryna Kushnir

This chapter draws together the findings about both the Bologna actors and instruments to explain the mechanism of the Bologna reform in Ukraine until 2014 and its place…

Abstract

This chapter draws together the findings about both the Bologna actors and instruments to explain the mechanism of the Bologna reform in Ukraine until 2014 and its place in Europeanisation in the post-Soviet context.

This research demonstrates that continuity was mainly perpetuated by the Ministry of Education and Science, and change was facilitated by civil organisations. There was a lot of fluidity in the interaction of old practices and policy innovation in Bologna in Ukraine. The interaction between the path dependency and change was primarily a gradual chaotic, yet creative, and shared build-up of minor innovations by different higher education actors. These innovations in the development of the Bologna instruments may be seen as leading to more substantial transformations over time.

The research findings may also serve as a first step towards a reconceptualisation of the Europeanisation process particularly in the post-Soviet context in the first couple of decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Bologna in Ukraine can be seen as an illustration of the ways in which Europeanisation may not always necessitate the elimination of past conventions and practices – indeed, in a policy field such as education, abandoning history and tradition would have been a futile endeavour. Policy continuity in the post-Soviet context may be a foundation in the Europeanisation process during which minor innovations are slowly yet continuously being accumulated. This foundation shapes the nature of changes. Therefore, perhaps, the debate regarding a slow pace of Europeanisation in the post-Soviet space might be erroneous, since it carries a hidden assumption – that it is slow in relation to a much faster Europeanisation and resulting transformations in the EU. Such a comparison should be revisited in light of a potential difference in the nature of Europeanisation in the two spaces and the acknowledgement of growing overlaps between the two spaces as well.

Details

The Bologna Reform in Ukraine
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-114-1

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Book part
Publication date: 14 January 2021

Iryna Kushnir

This is the final chapter of the book. It summarises the story in the book and explains the contribution it makes. This book contributes, first and foremost, to the body…

Abstract

This is the final chapter of the book. It summarises the story in the book and explains the contribution it makes. This book contributes, first and foremost, to the body of literature that investigates Bologna specifically in Ukraine, as well as Bologna in the national contexts of the post-Soviet region more broadly. Crucially, the analysis of the reform process in Ukraine also gives some insight into the literature about wider Europeanisation processes in the post-Soviet context, particularly in the area of higher education and other policy fields. The Ukrainian case has demonstrated that Europeanisation is associated with change as much as it is associated with policy continuity. The pace of post-Soviet change might be related to the interplay of different groups of policy actors who have different motivations – following the past conventions or moving away from them. Change often existed only in discourse because of strongly rooted Soviet legacies of centralisation and established policies. Europeanisation then often served as an object of appropriation by central governing bodies for demonstrating in discourse to the public that change is underway.

The Bologna Process seems to have been widening the borders of Europe further to the east more than any other previous European policy initiative (e.g., the European Union, the European Neighbourhood Policy). Bologna might also be emerging as a source of a new joint image of Europeanisation in the EHEA. Unlike most of the previous initiatives that were focused around Europeanisation in the EU or around the EU, Bologna might become a tool for assimilating different spaces (such as the EU and the post-Soviet area) in their aims for Europeanisation in the future, while at present we may speculate that Europeanisation in the post-Soviet space may be a distinct phenomenon.

Details

The Bologna Reform in Ukraine
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-114-1

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Book part
Publication date: 14 January 2021

Iryna Kushnir

This chapter reviews the theoretical literature about Europeanisation and argues the need for further analysis of post-Soviet Europeanisation. This chapter also connects…

Abstract

This chapter reviews the theoretical literature about Europeanisation and argues the need for further analysis of post-Soviet Europeanisation. This chapter also connects post-Soviet Europeanisation to the notion of policy learning, which is introduced as a theoretical perspective. The chapter discusses the challenges around the definition of policy learning in relation to other policy processes such as transfer, translation and diffusion. Policy layering does not presuppose mutual exclusion between path-dependence and change, but rather the fruitful mutual development of both. It implies a gradual change of certain policy aspects and the retaining of others. The development of the links between path-dependence and change in layering is a highly messy process. Multiple actors participate in learning, and they create policy as they learn. There are no distinct stages of learning, and the line between policy-makers and practitioners is often blurred.

The difference between policy-making on the European level and the post-Soviet domestic context is significant. The literature about post-Soviet countries recognises the presence of a struggle between Europeanisation and post-Soviet legacies there. Europeanisation in this literature is presented as change; while the influence of the post-Soviet legacies is seen as an obstacle that hinders it. The policy learning concept is key here to frame Europeanisation in the post-Soviet context as an area of enquiry which may develop according to the logic of layering.

Details

The Bologna Reform in Ukraine
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-114-1

To view the access options for this content please click here
Book part
Publication date: 14 January 2021

Iryna Kushnir

This is the introductory chapter of the book. This chapter explains the background and relevance of the topic of the book – the process of a national higher education…

Abstract

This is the introductory chapter of the book. This chapter explains the background and relevance of the topic of the book – the process of a national higher education reform in the post-Soviet space such as Ukraine until passing the Law about Higher Education in 2014, and the ways in which this story can inform our understanding of some aspects of the Europeanisation in the post-Soviet context. The Bologna reform is, arguably, one of the expressions of Europeanisation in post-Soviet countries that belong to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). The Bologna Process is an international policy project for the standardisation of higher education structures in the European Higher Education Area. It comprised 29 European countries at the start of the Bologna Process in 1999, and it started incorporating more states later, a lot of which were not part of the EU. Beside the overarching goal to create the EHEA, a number of concrete objectives, called the action lines, were identified, such as the adoption of a common system of credits and cycles of study process, the development of an easily readable diploma supplement issued to graduates, the promotion of student and faculty mobility and the assurance of higher education quality.

This chapter also presents methodological considerations associated with designing the research presented in this book, such as conducting interviews and identifying policy documents – and how thematic analysis was applied to these two types of data. The case of Ukraine is characterised as instrumental because, beside the contribution it makes to how we see the Bologna reform in Ukraine itself, this case study is important for understanding wider Europeanisation issues.

Details

The Bologna Reform in Ukraine
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-114-1

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Book part
Publication date: 22 September 2015

Ray Silvius

The purpose of this paper is to examine processes of Eurasian integration and the veritable ‘culture war’ between Russia and the West over it, while contributing to the…

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to examine processes of Eurasian integration and the veritable ‘culture war’ between Russia and the West over it, while contributing to the theoretical paradigm of geopolitical economy. This paradigm invites us to consider the multiple manifestations of an emerging multipolar world order while scrutinising the extent to which previously popular approaches to the study of international political economy were themselves enmeshed in projects, the architects of which aspired to global hegemony.

The paper employs critical historicism, an approach in which cultural difference is seen as the sedimentation of historically constituted material and ideational processes and which eschews cultural essentialism and orientalising tropes. It is through this lens that Russian state attempts at normalising Eurasian integration processes are examined.

I demonstrate that Russian state organs and officials, as well as ‘political technologists’ attempt to de-politicise processes of Eurasian integration by appealing to both the logic of cultural/civilisational compatibility of affected parties, as well as the logic of economic integration. Such portrayals invite scrutiny; however, it is important that we also consider how Eurasian integration initiatives are the product of a post-Soviet struggle over Eurasian space but represent something more than mere neo-Soviet revisionism.

The paper demonstrates its originality by situating ongoing processes of Eurasian integration within the longer post-Soviet conjuncture and amid processes of international contestation. Moreover, it situates Russian officials and political technologists as active contributors to international debates about the emerging multipolar world order.

Details

Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-295-5

Keywords

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