Performing Political Opposition in Russia : The Case of the Youth Movement Oborona

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/229487

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Lyytikäinen , L 2014 , ' Performing Political Opposition in Russia : The Case of the Youth Movement Oborona ' , Helsinki . < https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/45024 >

Title: Performing Political Opposition in Russia : The Case of the Youth Movement Oborona
Author: Lyytikäinen, Laura
Contributor organization: Aleksanteri Institute 2010-2017
Sociology
Publisher: University of Helsinki, Department of Social Research
Date: 2014
Language: eng
Number of pages: 183
Belongs to series: Publications of the Department of Social research
ISBN: 9789521091032
9789521091049
ISSN: 1798-9140
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/229487
Abstract: This book examines Russian civil society and democratization from the perspective of the oppositional youth activists in Moscow and St. Petersburg. It takes the Russian youth movement Oborona (Defense) as its case study. Before its dissolution in 2011, the movement was an active participant in the political opposition movement and, thus, it is an interesting case study of the actually existing activist traditions in Russia. The research shows how in Russian political activism, the Soviet continuities and liberal ideas are entangled to create new post-socialist political identities and practices. The study s findings reflect the opportunities and restrictions for activism in Russia in general, and demonstrate the specificities of Russian liberal activism as well as the reasons for the lack of wider oppositional mobilization in the country. The research draws on sociological theories on identities, social performance, and politicization as well as class, gender and generation studies. The data is derived from thematic interviews, informal discussions, participant observations, and selected readings of central Internet and social media sites. The interview data consists of 38 interviews with the activists of youth movements and it was collected in Moscow and in St Petersburg during the period of 2009 2012. In the Oborona movement, the activist identity is constructed in the intersections of the Soviet intelligentsia and dissident traditions, and international influences. On the group level, the activists sense of solidarity relies on friendship and obshchenie (communication and being together) instead of a political connectedness. Also the movement practices tend to emphasize the sense of unity by silencing individual voices and political affiliations. The movement Oborona tries to find its own way between the western imported understanding of democracy and civil society and the dominant symbolic order of sovereign democracy . The book argues that both the state s official view on democracy and Oborona s liberal-democratically oriented interpretation are tied to the political symbols of nationalism and the strong state and its unifying leader, which can be seen as a continuation of the centralized power relationships of the Soviet state. Furthermore, Oborona s repertoire of action brings together the ideals and norms of the activist identity and discursive frameworks of the movement. The book argues that the protest and its actors remain distant from the audiences and this reflects the wider problems of the political opposition and especially the liberals in Russia. The research suggests that the same weakness of collective political identity, lack of common ideological goals, leader-centeredness, and personified power that the case study illustrates are found in the Russian liberal opposition in general.
Subject: 5141 Sociology
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion


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