Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN32_09b: Citizenship and Civil society (III)
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Alison E. Woodward, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Location: GM.339
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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The Role of Polish and Russian NGOs in Lithuanian Civic Society: State Policy Measures and Attitudes of NGOs Leaders

Monika Frėjutė-Rakauskienė

Lithuanian Social Research Centre, Lithuania

The paper addresses the questions of the role of ethnic civic organizations in the Lithuanian civic society; what are the mission of these organizations and how state institutions aim to strengthen national minorities’ civil society. The paper also discusses how changing geopolitical context after the Ukrainian and Russian conflict in 2014 has been reflected in public attitudes and state policy towards ethnic minorities groups in Lithuania. Russians and Poles are the most numerous ethnic minorities groups in Lithuania and they are represented by several political parties and a number of civil society organizations. These organizations unite active members of ethnic communities, who articulate issues that are seen as important and relevant to the Polish and Russian ethnic groups. The civic society in the democratic states is seen as the platform for representation of different social perspectives and consolidation of society groups which experience structural inequality (e.g. Young 2000). In Lithuania, these minority NGOs mostly focus on organization of cultural events, they target local Poles, Russians and Russian-speakers and only in rare cases orient their activities towards the society at large. The main body of these organizations consists predominantly of individuals of middle- and older-generation; these individuals form the main audience of their activities as well. The paper is based on the analysis of qualitative data collected in NGO sector and interpretation of state policy towards national minority NGOs.

When There Is No Choice: Electoral Preferences of Russians In Times of Ideological Uncertainty

Irina Trofimova1, W.John Morgan2, Grigorii Kliucharev1

1Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Federation; 2Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods, Cardiff University

The study analyses the electoral preferences of Russians who participated in the 2016 parliamentary and 2018 presidential elections. The empirical basis is derived from the data of nationwide monitoring carried out by Federal Centre of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences over 2014-2018. The sample comprised 4,000 persons (aged 18 and over) and was representative of the adult population in terms of gender, age, education and type of settlement. As the study shows elections in modern Russia may be described as “elections without choice”. This is why contemporary Russia resembles the Soviet Union. But the main difference is that the Soviet elections had Communist ideology as the basis, and those with dissenting opinions suffered official ostracism, persecution, and repression. Contemporary Russian elections are stripped of any ideological orientation. At present, the Russian policymakers consider an ideology as non-essential, while dissension is still considered dangerous. Consequently, today's ideological constructs become illusory and more disproportionate to the real tasks, values, and interests of a majority of citizens. Most voters are ill-informed about party and pre-election programmes that use conservative, social and democratic and liberal slogans. However, the study shows that, on the one hand, elections in contemporary Russia remain an essential political institution. This is proved by high voter turnout and the participation of opposition parties and leaders. Nevertheless, the effective democratic component is weak and largely formal.

Interest Group Systems In Post-Communist Environment: Informal Relations And Inequality Of Access To Policy Making

Pavel Kanevskii

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russian Federation

Interest group systems, as introduced by Almond in 1958, describe how articulation of organized political interests take place in various societies, how are these interests transmitted to decision making and translated into public policies. Almond specified that particular difference existed between Western and non-Western interest groups systems, referring among other examples to communist countries' experience when interest groups were controlled by the state and used to mobilize citizens in order to support the government. Three decades after the fall of communist regimes, relations between decision makers and major organized groups in Central and Eastern European states are still dependent on the government and to different extent are dominated by cronyism, informal ties and nepotism. Only limited number of interest groups enjoy privileged access to policy making which provokes inequality of access and halts further development of interest group systems. These problems have been inherited by post-Soviet states as well as new member states of the European Union from Central and Eastern Europe. As a rule, despite initial progress in setting mediation institutions there have been dramatic drawback since the beginning of illiberal and populist wave. Europeanization didn’t have a notable effect on integrity and openness of interest groups systems among new EU members states because infrormal networks used to lobby their interests do not work on supranational level. Nor have these systems been able to introduce efficient corporatist mechanisms of interest representation, which is why Ost called it “illusory corporatism”. More democracy and proactive civil society, less expansive and inclusive state, anti-corruption measures, understandable rules and change of behavioural attitudes should be the core of policies aimed at changing the tenacious legacy.