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Elite Bargaining and the Evolution of Centre-Periphery Relations in Post-Soviet Russia : A Comparative Analysis

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Title: Elite Bargaining and the Evolution of Centre-Periphery Relations in Post-Soviet Russia : A Comparative Analysis
Author: Dusseault, David
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic and Political StudiesAleksanteri Institute
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Abstract: This work is concerned with presenting a modified theoretical approach to the study of centre-periphery relations in the Russian Federation. In the widely accepted scientific discourse, the Russian federal system under the Yeltsin Administration (1991-2000) was asymmetrical; largely owing to the varying amount of structural autonomy distributed among the federation s 89 constituent units.

While providing an improved understanding as to which political and socio-economic structures contributed to federal asymmetry, it is felt that associated large N-studies have underemphasised the role played by actor agency in re-shaping Russian federal institutions. It is the main task of this thesis to reintroduce /re-emphasise the importance of actor agency as a major contributing element of institutional change in the Russian federal system.

By focusing on the strategic agency of regional elites simultaneously within regional and federal contexts, the thesis adopts the position that political, ethnic and socio-economic structural factors alone cannot fully determine the extent to which regional leaders were successful in their pursuit of economic and political pay-offs from the institutionally weakened federal centre.

Furthermore, this work hypothesises that under conditions of federal institutional uncertainty, it is the ability of regional leaders to simultaneously interpret various mutable structural conditions then translate them into plausible strategies which accounts for the regions ability to extract variable amounts of economic and political pay-offs from the Russian federal system.

The thesis finds that while the hypothesis is accurate in its theoretical assumptions, several key conclusions provide paths for further inquiry posed by the initial research question. First, without reliable information or stable institutions to guide their actions, both regional and federal elites were forced into ad-hoc decision-making in order to maintain their core strategic focus: political survival.

Second, instead of attributing asymmetry to either actor agency or structural factors exclusively, the empirical data shows that both agency and structures interact symbiotically in the strategic formulation process, thus accounting for the sub-optimal nature of several of the actions taken in the adopted cases. Third, as actor agency and structural factors mutate over time, so, too do the perceived payoffs from elite competition. In the case of the Russian federal system, the stronger the federal centre became, the less likely it was that regional leaders could extract the high degree of economic and political pay-offs that they clamoured for earlier in the Yeltsin period.

Finally, traditional approaches to the study of federal systems which focus on institutions as measures of federalism are not fully applicable in the Russian case precisely because the institutions themselves were a secondary point of contention between competing elites. Institutional equilibriums between the regions and Moscow were struck only when highly personalised elite preferences were satisfied. Therefore the Russian federal system is the product of short-term, institutional solutions suited to elite survival strategies developed under conditions of economic, political and social uncertainty.Tutkimus tarkastelee Venäjän federaation keskustan ja periferian välisiä suhteita mukautetun teoreettisen mallin avulla. Yleisesti hyväksytyn tieteellisen diskurssin mukaan Boris Jeltsinin valtakauden (1991 2000) aikainen federaatiojärjestelmä oli epäsymmetrinen paljolti siksi, että federaation 89 osan mahdollisuudet rakenteelliseen autonomiaan vaihtelivat.

Tarkastelemalla alueellisten eliittien toimintastrategioita sekä alueellisella että liittovaltiotasolla tutkimuksessa on päädytty siihen lopputulokseen, että poliittiset, etniset tai taloudellis-sosiaaliset tekijät eivät yksin voi selittää alueellisten johtajien institutionaalisesti heikentyneeltä liittovaltiokeskukselta saavuttamia taloudellisia tai poliittisia etuja.

Tutkimuksen hypoteesi onkin se, että kun liittovaltion instituutiot ovat epävarmoja, alueellisten johtajien kyky luovia ja hyödyntää erilaisia vaihtelevia rakenteellisia olosuhteita ratkaisee sen, miten nämä muunnetaan toimintastrategioiksi. Tämä ratkaisee alueiden kyvyn hankkia erilaisia taloudellisia ja poliittisia etuja Venäjän liittovaltiojärjestelmässä.

Instituutioiden välinen tasapaino aluehallinnon ja Moskovan välillä saavutettiin vasta sitten, kun hyvinkin yksilöityneet eliitin tarpeet tyydytettiin. Näin ollen Venäjän liittovaltiojärjestelmä muodostuu lähinnä sellaisista lyhytaikaisista institutionaalisista ratkaisuista, joiden päämääränä on ollut turvata eliitin asema epävarmassa taloudellisessa, poliittisessa ja sosiaalisessa tilanteessa.
URI: URN:ISBN:978-952-10-6158-5
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/21845
Date: 2010-04-14
Copyright information: This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.
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