Russia, Policy Implementation, Civil Society, Self-Managed Local Associations (TOS)
This article discusses the role of local initiatives in policy implementation in Russia. The question of the relationship between state and civic organizations in Russia is complex and problematic. On the local level, state programs and private charity funds offer some financing for local projects, realizing local initiatives. Such projects are often consequences of civic activity and would benefit from vital and well-functioning NGOs, which are rare in present-day Russia. This article introduces the main political instruments for local development and describes the experiences of local initiatives, understanding them as features of an emerging civil society in Russia. It also describes the relation between state and local activity, posing the question: what type of democracy do these local experiences indicate? A “project approach” on the local level can be thought of as an attempt by the Russian power hierarchy to solve local societal problems by combining hierarchic decision making and people’s participation. It leads Russian leaders to the complicated dilemma of supporting active participation while needing to maintain control over it at the same time—in spite of that control’s negative effects on local initiatives and innovation. For local citizens it creates another dilemma: they must adapt their individual agency to the social landscape of support and punishment. Finally, the article revisits James G. March and Johan P. Olsen’s two models of democracy—the “aggregative pattern” and the “integrative pattern.” The Russian political practice seems to attempt to adopt limited versions of both models at the same time, even if not in their purest form. The first model, the aggregative pattern, is adopted on the macro level with a strong authoritative element blended within interest mediation, and the integrative pattern is adopted at the local level combined with the construction of controlling mechanisms.
Article in English.