How Russia Really Works: The Informal Practices That Shaped Post-Soviet Politics and Businessby Alena V. Ledeneva
During the Soviet era, blat—the use of personal networks for obtaining goods and services in short supply and for circumventing formal procedures—was necessary to compensate for the inefficiencies of socialism. The collapse of the Soviet Union produced a new generation of informal practices. In How Russia Really Works, Alena V./em>/em>
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During the Soviet era, blat—the use of personal networks for obtaining goods and services in short supply and for circumventing formal procedures—was necessary to compensate for the inefficiencies of socialism. The collapse of the Soviet Union produced a new generation of informal practices. In How Russia Really Works, Alena V. Ledeneva explores practices in politics, business, media, and the legal sphere in Russia in the 1990s—from the hiring of firms to create negative publicity about one's competitors, to inventing novel schemes of tax evasion and engaging in "alternative" techniques of contract and law enforcement.
Ledeneva discovers ingenuity, wit, and vigor in these activities and argues that they simultaneously support and subvert formal institutions. They enable corporations, the media, politicians, and businessmen to operate in the post-Soviet labyrinth of legal and practical constraints but consistently undermine the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. The "know-how" Ledeneva describes in this book continues to operate today and is crucial to understanding contemporary Russia.
"Alena V. Ledeneva has not only observed Russia's transition at first hand but is also a resourceful researcher. Her first book, The Russian Economy of Favours,dealt with usages which arose in the later Soviet period, particularly blatpayments made in favours between friends and associates. Since then she has broadened her focus and developed her tools. In How Russia Really Works she manages to prise open the cover over the secret world a little more to peer at the scurrying life beneath."Philip Longworth, Times Literary Supplement, May 11, 2007
"How Russia Really Works covers a fascinating topica cultural analysis of the transformation of economic activity in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet state. Alena V. Ledeneva focuses specifically on the nature and implications of informal practices. This book is important and innovative, providing a unique ethnographic perspective on rarely visible informal economic activity and dispelling a number of commonly held stereotypes about corruption and illegality."Alexei Yurchak, University of California, Berkeley
Meet the Author
Alena V. Ledeneva is a Reader in Russian Politics and Society at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. She is the author of Russia's Economy of Favours: Blat, Networking, and Informal Exchange and the coeditor of Economic Crime in Russia and Bribery and Blat in Russia.
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