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“CIVIL SOCIETY “
IN TURBULENT TIMES:
RUSSIAN CASE
Svetlana Kirdina
Institute of Economics,
Russian Academy of Sciences,
Moscow, Russia
1
Outline
“Civil society” = an Ideologem?
 “Civil society” and a state:
opponents or partners?
 “Civil society” in Russia: theory
and empirical data

2
The importance of
terms’ meaning

Once disciple of Confucius asked his
Teacher (488 BC): “New governor is going
to involve you in the state administration.
Where do you start?”. Confucius replied:
"First we need to refine the names that do
not correspond to the essence ... If the
words are unfavorable, the case will not be
going well ... (Lun Yu, XIII, p. 8)
3
“Civil society” in different
ideological contexts (examples)
The New Left: civil society has a key role
in defending people against the capitalist
state and the market and in asserting the
collective will to influence the state;
 Neo-liberals: civil society needs the
market and is created for the satisfaction
of individual interests and private property
in accordance with liberal values. .[

4
“Civil society” as
“liberal” Ideologem
CSI (Civil Society Index): 2 of 4
parameters characterize the basic
freedoms and values;
 CSSI (Civil Society Strength Index): 1 of
2 groups of parameters is named as Civil
Society values factor;
 GCSI (Global Civil Society Index): 2 of 5
parameters reflect the distribution of
tolerance values.

5
Civil society and a state



Civil society is the state (since Thomas
Hobbes, John Locke)
Civil society is an opponent of the state, or
“political superstructure” (since the Great Scots
David Hume, Adam Smith, Patrick Ferguson)
Civil society is a complement rather than an
alternative to the state , “the state is seen as a
precondition of civil society” (Whaites, 1996;
Zaleski, 2006)
6
Civil society and a state
(Russian version)

o
o
o
Civil society is a part of the state. Its main
objective is to promote the social
integration through:
Legitimization of state power;
Public control of state decisions;
Participation in the process of state decision
making.
(Russian school of constitutional economics,
Russian civil and public law studies).
7
Table 1. In your opinion, what could promote the
welfare of Russia, %?
(Levada-Center. Press release 21.01.2010. What is democracy and
whether it is necessary in Russia?)
December December December December
2004
2005
2006
2009
The strengthening of
“the vertical of power”
The strengthening of
civil rights and freedoms,
civil society
Neither one nor the
other
Don’t know
31
31
29
31
42
38
42
48
13
14
11
8
14
17
18
12
8
Table 2. Do you think the majority of public movements
and initiatives in modern Russia is emerging…
Levada-Center. Press release 25.06.2010. Problems of social and
political participation.
June 2008 June 2010
on the private initiative of citizens,
“bottom-up”, independently of the
government or other political forces
initiated by the authorities
initiated by opposition political forces
initiated by external forces interested
in a particular way of Russia's development
Don’t know
14
13
32
30
21
22
11
13
22
22
9
Table 3. What type of state would you like to see to
exist in Russia?
Levada-Center. Press release 16.03.2010. State and society
interrelations in Russian public opinion.
March February February
1998
2006
2010
A unitary centralized state
with the heads of local authorities
appointed by the Center
State with the most extensive rights
of local authorities and central
government coordinating their
interests
Don’t know
25
41
46
52
39
36
23
20
19
10
Table 4. In your opinion, on which of the following
principles a society, in which you want to live,
should be based?
Levada-Center. Press release 14.01.2011. On state and society interrelations.
November February December December December
2001
2006
2006
2007
2010
The authorities
should take care of
people
People should be
able to obtain from
authorities what
they need
Don’t know
66
68
74
66
65
33
28
21
30
29
3
4
5
4
6
11
Institutional matrices theory
(X- and Y-theory) as one of
theoretical explanations






Kirdina S. G. Institutional Matrices and Development in Russia (2 edition).
Novosibirsk, 2001 (In Russian).
Kirdina S. The Institutional Matrices Theory in the Context of Modern
Sociology. /Visions and Divisions: the Russian Outlook The Russian
Academy of Sciences - The Russian Society of Sociologists. - MoscowHelsinki, 2001.
Kirdina S. Fundamental Difference in the Transformation Process between
Russia and East European Countries // Berliner Osteuropa Info, №
16/2001.
Kirdina S. Institutional Matrices and Institutional Changes / Economic
Transformation and Evolutionary Theory of J. Schumpeter. The 5th
International Symposium on Evolutionary Economics, Pushchino, Moscow
region, Russia, 2003.
Institutional matrix in sociology / Sociological encyclopedia. Moscow, 2003
(in Russian),
Institutional matrices theory/ Sociological dictionary. Moscow, 2010 (in
Russian).
12
X- and Y-matrices
Redistributive economy
X
Y
Market economy
13
Combinations of X- and Ymatrices
X
Russia, China, and
most of Asian and
Latin American countries
Y
X
Y
North American
countries and most of
European countries
14
X- and Y-institutions
in politics and their functions
Functions of institutions
X-institutions
Y-institutions
1.Territorial administrative
organization of the state
Administrative division
(unitarity)
Federative structure
(federation)
2. Governance system (flow
of decision making)
Vertical hierarchical
authority with Centre on
the top
Self-government and
subsidiarity
3.Type of interaction in the
order of decision making
General assembly and
unanimity
Multi-party system and
democratic majority
4. Filling of governing
positions
Appointment
Election
5. Feed-back mechanism
Appeals to higher levels
of hierarchical authority
Law suits
15
Conclusion



“Civil society” remains an ideologem rather than
a rigorous scientific concept.
A critical interpretation of civil society discourse
needs placing it in the context of contingent
policy regimes defined by institutional factors.
A version of civil society discourse
contextualized in the Russian transitional society
calls for interpreting it not as an opponent of the
state but as a part of the state with main
objective to promote the social integration.
16
Thank you for your attention!
Contacts:
www.kirdina.ru
[email protected]
17
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