Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Politikwissenschaft, Institut für » Prof. Dr. Simon Hug (ausgetreten) » Hayoz

Completed research project

Title / Titel Civil Society, Trust and Democratization in Russia
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung It is almost trivial to observe that civil society matters – particularly in a process of democratisation. However for some countries such as Ukraine or Russia conventional wisdom would have told us, that since the regimes in these countries managed quite well to hold down the political opposition, change will not come through elections, particularly if one considered the weakness of civil society and the political opposition. Then came the “orange revolution” in Kiev and with it a negotiated regime change. This “cunning of history” reminded scholars once again that social and political change occurs very often when you expect it the least. The events in Georgia and in Ukraine pointed to the fact that, under certain conditions, civil society can also be mobilized in countries with stalled transformation processes and semi-authoritarian regimes. Post-Soviet societies are not “dead-locked” by their own Communist legacy. A halted democratisation process can start again. In Russia this will be more difficult. But even here, in the context of a broadly accepted semi-authoritarian regime the pressure on the regime increases on a series of policy issues but also on the level of the “power vertical”. So, what are these certain conditions, under which civil society can play an active role in regime change, and where are they to be found? The conditions would have to be such, that they enable civil society organizations to perform their basic functions even under the difficult context of a semi-authoritarian regime. The functional approach lets us distinguish between horizontal and vertical functions of civil society and thus identify where and how opportunities for change can be seized by civil society actors. Opportunities for change and new developments are likely to be found on the sub-national, regional level. As typically “grassroots” organizations in a context of limited mobility and interconnectedness (one of the main differences between Russia and western societies), most civil society actors in Russia have a regional radius of activity. Socio-economic and political differences among the regions provide an opportunity for comparisons of functions and impact of civil society. This is why this study wishes to examine the following questions in three different regions with each showing a specific socio-economic and the political profile:
• First the project examines obstacles and promoting factors in the development of civil society in Russia
• It aims at examining the various functions of public organisations and evaluates them in terms of their political functions in western societies: to build up trust and to function as a natural opposition force in society
• To what extent actors of civil society in Russia could build up the necessary capacities in order to become agents of change?
• To what extent public organizations of regional civil societies may be able to contribute to building up trust and to the reinforcement of networks of cooperation and democratic citizenship?
Keywords / Suchbegriffe Civil Society, Trust, Democratization, Political Parties
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Dr. Nicolas Hayoz, PhD (Project Leader)
Prof. Dr. Simon Hug, PhD
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
SNF (Programm NFP)
In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
G.M. Michaleva
Russian State University of Humanities
N. Borisova
State University of Perm
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Oct 2005 to Sep 2007