Memberless Civil Society in Russia: Interdependencies Between the Third Sector, the State and the Market

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 30 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Zhanna KRAVCHENKO, Sodertorn University, Sweden
Apostolis PAPAKOSTAS, Södertörn University, Sweden
The appearance of civil society is considered one of the key characteristics of the Russian post-Soviet transformation. This paper aims to contribute to the session “Comparative Capitalism...” by focusing on the changing patterns of resource mobilization in Russia during the last 25 years. In particular, we examine on how mobilizing members, staff, volunteers and various financial sources – shapes internal and external relations, tactics for managing dependency, uncertainty and competition by comparing two types of NGOs: professionalized service providers and volunteer organizations. We specifically aim to systematically compare how the patterns of financial (re)distribution between the state, the market and the civil society not only integrate non-governmental organizations into the system of bureaucratic governance but also stimulate the propensity to generate profit.

The context that shaped the organizational character and the scope of activities of the Russian NGOs has been a complex combination of efforts by various actors. In the 1990s the foreign donors aimed to strengthen organizational capacities of the third sector while setting an agenda that did not really reflect the domestic issues and needs. In the 2000s governmental attempts to steer the role of the third sector increased, the legislation was introduced that to hinder foreign financial and ideological influence, to prevent political opposition. We thus aim to capture the differences and similarities between these two periods by comparing organization established during these two periods. Empirical materials include the legislative framework, interviews, observations and documents produced by and for the NGOs.

Analyzing and theoretically capturing the institutional and organizational change in civil society in Russia we aim to understand whether and how the development of the Russian third sector corresponds and differs from the international pattern of changes in civil society, characterized by diminishing membership base and concentration of resources in financial institutions, states and corporate enterprises.