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In this unique contribution to economic sociology, Jeffrey Hass examines the impact of culture, norms and political authority on Russia's post-socialist transition. The interactions and contradictions of moral economies and market relations are examined, exploring the often overlooked social dimension to market-building in Russia.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction: Rethinking the Political Economy of Post-Socialism

Introduction: Rethinking the Political Economy of Post-Socialism

Abstract
By the end of 1991, the West’s significant other was replaced by fifteen independent countries undergoing experiments of remaking complex social structures, what one group of scholars called a “quadruple transition” (D’Anieri, Kravchuk, and Kuzio 1999): transforming economies (marketization), polities (democratization), state structures, and political identities and communities (nations and ethnicities). This event, whose echoes reverberate, is among the most important events for the social sciences, as these experiences provide social laboratories to study theories of economics and politics (unfortunately for those enduring the experiments). Yet social science failed to address adequately the massively complex process unfolding there. On the economic front, early predictions, hopes, and analyses growing out of the neoliberal model (Lipton et al 1990; Lipton, Sachs, and Summers 1990; Fisher and Gelb 1991; Åslund 1995) could not adequately account for confusion, conflict, and multiple trajectories in their overly simplistic and normative accounts of economic and political life.
Jeffrey Hass

1. Culture and Post-Socialism: The Moral Economy of Market Building

Abstract
Russia’s transformation from Soviet to post Soviet–a process neither integrated nor complete was a project of remaking meanings and norms, relations and foundations of authority, and identities (Kennedy 2002; Weiner 2007). The importance of culture and power was clear empirically in such issues as contested and confused identities (rossiianin or ethnic identities), political legitimacy (power sharing between Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet or Duma), and Russia’s “appropriate” political system and position in the global polity. Yet meaning, authority, and the like have been rare theoretically in discourse on Russia’s post-Soviet economy. Or maybe this is not surprising, as this topic was the turf of economists and political scientists. Yet social issues are not the property of one discipline alone: as economic sociology reveals, economies are more than costs, money supply, property, profit—concepts far less objective and clear cut than economists and political scientists admit.
Jeffrey Hass

Voices from below: Moral and Market Economies at Play

Frontmatter

2. Moral versus Market Economies in the Post-Soviet Firm

Abstract
Not without cause, some late Soviet-era reformers believed hypercentralization and micro-management were partly responsible foreconomic inefficiencies. Enterprise managers and employees did notdisagree. To them, the problem was not the enterprise itself; certainlyoutdated or worn technology hurt, but the real obstacle to productivitywas bureaucrats to whom they answered and whose Plan-centeredrules stifled innovation and productivity. As several assistant managersof a lathe-making firm told me in 1995, they knew much of their outputwas unnecessary and that monthly Plan targets were not “rational.” In the Soviet production model, economic output depended primarilyon sheer numbers of workers—but this model reached diminishingreturns. Further, the Soviet Union faced a renewed arms race involvingnew levels of technology, East Asian economies driven by modern technologiesand techniques, and dependency on petrodollars that the oilglut of the 1980s revealed. In this context, some reformers in ministriesand around Gorbachev came to see that liberalizing enterprise relationsand decentralizing decision-making to managers and even industrialworkers would inject needed dynamism into production against sclerosisand stagnation.
Jeffrey Hass

3. Moral and Market Economies Meet: Remaking Exchange

Abstract
Both Adam Smith and Emile Durkheim believed profit-oriented, instrumental rationality—behavior we associate with the stereotypical market actor—was not enough to sustain working economies. For Smith (2002 [1759]), sympathy was crucial for social or economic exchanges. Exchange for material gain alone was too cold a foundation for exchange, and only sympathy and shared values—and exchange of empathy, as it were—would reduce opportunism that would be a natural outgrowth of instrumental rationality. For Durkheim (1947), a utilitarian rationality could not explain how exchange persisted as continual practice, much for the same reasons Smith noted: self-interest and even the power of the state were insufficient to keep market exchange running in a consistent fashion. For Durkheim, “non-contractual elements of contract” were essential: self-interest and the state had to be augmented by shared norms of reciprocity and the sanctity of contract, else opportunism would be rife and the state would be overloaded with policing violations. Without shared norms of the sanctity of law and contract, economic life would disintegrate into a Hobbesian state of nature. While exchange in post-Soviet Russia between economic actors (firms, entrepreneurs, consumers) is on a relatively firm footing as of 2010—there are enough lawyers to prosecute contract violations, and banks helped contract defense by allowing seizure of assets—exchange was far from stable in the 1990s.
Jeffrey Hass

Rethinking Narratives of the Foundations of Capitalism

Frontmatter

4. Contradictions of Post-Socialist Value: Moral Economy of Money

Abstract
We take for granted that the embodiment of value is defined, fixed, and usually stable. Yet this fixity has a longer history. Expansion and consolidation of state power in the United States, France, or Great Britain are distant enough, and economies sufficiently stable (parts of the 1970s aside), that we assume dollars, pounds, and some European currency (once francs and deutschmarks, the euro at the moment) are natural, operative means for storing value and facilitating exchange. While the relative value of currencies can change due to international currency markets, central bank policies, and inflationary forces, currency itself is seldom questioned. This is true not only for the average American or Briton; it is also true for academics, especially economists and political scientists. The discourse of post-socialist reform was dominated essentially by two issues: privatization and stabilizing currencies. Reining in inflation was key to IMF-sponsored reforms in Latin America and the post-socialist world; the ruble, zloty, and others were foci for policy. “Currency” was reified as objective, real, and following its own economic laws. Yet the empirical reality of currencies is subjective and less straightforward. Economists certainly do not suggest money descends from Heaven as an objective measure of value; maintaining market faith in a currency is an important task for economists and government advisors alike.
Jeffrey Hass

5. A Tsar is Born? A Moral Economy of the Post-Soviet State

Abstract
Boris Berezovskii, Mikhail Khodorkovskii, and other oligarchs might have thought in 1999 that they sat securely atop the Russian economy: surely the little-known Vladimir Putin, hand-picked to be Yeltsin’s heir because he would not rock the boat, would not be so audacious as to challenge the new elite who helped keep Yeltsin in power. Yet by the end of 2004 Putin had beaten the oligarchs. Berezovskii and fellow oligarch Vladimir Gusinskii had fled the country. Mikhail Khodorkovskii was under attack for tax fraud. Through state-owned firms Putin’s Kremlin was recapturing choice sectors of the Russian economy: via Gazprom Putin gained control of NTV and silenced its critical stance, and through Rosneft the Kremlin increased its presence in the oil sector. Putin won a second term as president and his vehicle of parliamentary power, Edinaia Rossiia (United Russia, originally Edinstvo), dominated the Duma. A new ruling elite, leaders of the siloviki—the security apparatus, literally a “power elite”—now ran the country, gathering the Russian lands once again, almost as if by old tradition. After its authority and capacity unraveled under Gorbachev and Yeltsin, the state was back in the center of polity, economy, and society. Governance techniques relied on owning important property in media and hydrocarbons, willingness to use kompromat1 to strong-arm elites into toeing the Kremlin line, and a formula of rule grounded in an elite moral economy, popular resentement vis-à-vis market reforms, and a discourse of national security and status.
Jeffrey Hass

Conclusion: Rethinking the Post-Soviet Experience Twenty Years On

Abstract
No one denies that moral language was and is used in the post-Soviet world. What is more contentious, however, is whether and to what extent those norms really matter? Are they merely window-dressing for material needs and instrumentally governed tactics? Or do they truly influence dynamics of change? There is plenty to suggest the former, especially in narratives about the sordid world of privatization and property empires. Yet one could also argue that Russian post-socialism is Polanyi’s story in two acts: society biting back against Soviet authoritarianism, and then society biting back against market reforms (hence the rise of Putin). Alas, Polanyi was more rigorous in analyzing the rise of market society and market capitalism than addressing backlash against these state-led projects. Both stories include a plethora of factors and forces–elite machinations, policy errors, social movement dynamics (e.g. Kotkin 2001; Beissinger 2002)–but these interacted with discourses, frames, and narratives of legitimate, normal practice and structure. I have argued that norms and moral economies matter, but they are not overpowering in and of themselves. They interact with interests, shaping them and being shaped by them.
Jeffrey Hass

Backmatter

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