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Russia's Economy of Favours
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Details

  • 19 b/w illus. 9 tables
  • Page extent: 256 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.38 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 306.3/0947
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: HF5387 .L436 1998
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Business ethics--Soviet Union
    • Exchange--Soviet Union
    • Black market--Soviet Union
    • Business networks--Soviet Union
    • Bribery--Soviet Union

Library of Congress Record

Paperback

 (ISBN-13: 9780521627436 | ISBN-10: 0521627435)

The word blat refers to the system of informal contacts and personal networks which was used to obtain goods and services under the rationing which characterised Soviet Russia. Alena Ledeneva's book is the first to analyse blat in all its historical, socio-economic and cultural aspects, and to explore its implications for post-Soviet society. In a socialist distribution system which resulted in constant shortages, blat developed into an 'economy of favours' which shadowed an overcontrolling centre and represented the reaction of ordinary people to the social constraints they faced. In social and economic terms, blat exchanges became vital to the population, and to the functioning of the Soviet system. The book shows that the nature of the economic and political changes in contemporary Russia cannot be properly understood without attention to the powerful legacy of the blat economy.

• The first full-scale study of blat - the system of black markets and contacts in Soviet Russia which underlay the Soviet system • Full of inside information from extensive interviews, at a unique point in history, by a Russian scholar • The understanding of blat provides essential insights into the prospects for the success of market and democratic reforms in Russia

Contents

List of cartoons; List of figures and tables; Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Blat: the unknown phenomenon; 2. Understanding blat; 3. The Soviet order: a view from within; 4. The use of personal networks; 5.Blat as a form of exchange: between gift and commodity; 6. Networking in the post-Soviet period; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.

Reviews

'Russia's Economy of Favours provides fascinating insights into an important and neglected aspect of Soviet/Russian society. Anthropologists, sociologists, and historians will all benefit from this vivid and informed study, based on interview data from the early 1990s, of Russian networking practices. This work by a young Russian scholar is a fine example of an emerging post-Soviet Russian scholarship that combines theoretical sophistication with a solid empirical base and a native 'feel' for the situation.' Sheila Fitzpatrick, University of Chicago

'In a most felicitous fashion this book weds analytical sophistication to the initimate, inside knowledge and 'feel' of Russian realities. Whether a seasoned expert in Russian history and culture or just a person interested in unfamiliar yet fascinating ways of life, the reader will be richly rewarded by a much deeper understanding of how Soviet and post-Soviet society, worked and goes on working, and what the experience of living in that society feels like.' Zygmunt Bauman, University of Leeds

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