"Show Me Respect." Discourses about the Parallel Economy, Kinship, and Corruption in Caucasian Communities

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Nona Shahnazarian

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Abstract

Following the downfall of the Soviet administrative system and the collapse of the ruble, trust in official social institutions fell sharply among people in the Caucasus region. The role of informal economic activity in the strategies of households and individuals has increased to the point where it is now a key survival mechanism. The institutional vacuum has given a new impulse to “rooted” social relations and personal support networks. This paper uses anonymized description to provide a general analysis of these practices as observed across the Caucasus. Examples are drawn from Abkhaz, Georgian, Megrelian, Azeri, Kurdish, Lezgin, Meskhetian Turkish, Armenian, Karabagh Armenian, Hemshin, Ossetian, Udi, Ingilo, Yezidi, Talysh and some other communities. The subjects of our analysis are kinship groups (patrilineal households) and other quasi-kinship structures or units, the dynamics of reciprocal relations within them, and their micro-economy in the late Soviet period. In Russian, summary in English.

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