Institutions and Institutional Change in Post-Socialism

“Institutions and Institutional Change in kompost_logoPostsocialism: Between History and Global Adaptation Pressures” are the themes of “KomPost”, a multidisciplinary research network that was realized by seven German universities and research institutes since 2010. Focusing on the successor states of the former Soviet Union, the network studied

  • how political, economic, legal and cultural institutions are created and changed in a context of historical legacies and global integration.
  • how political actors interpret and reframe institutional accounts, such as ideas of legitimate order and authority, to realise their interests and legitimize their intentions.

The network contributed to the renewal of East European area studies in Germany as a field where different disciplines engage in productive scholarly exchanges. For the period from 2010 to 2015, the network was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of its program to strengthen and develop area studies.

Universities of Cologne, Göttingen, Münster, Munich, Stuttgart-Hohenheim and Witten/Herdecke participated in the network. Their cooperation was intended to link and develop the capacities for East European studies existing in these academic centres. KomPost has integrated existing initiatives and has provided a new framework for research on Eastern Europe and Eurasia.

All network projects shared a common interest in:

• How institutional legitimacy is generated, contested and eroded;
• How economic crises and the partial openness of the political regime influence institutional legitimacy;
• How economic, legal and political institutions are embedded in historical and cultural institutions and ideas.

Most projects used qualitative methods of research, relying on case studies, small-n comparisons and contextualized data.

The network consisted of nine projects, clustering in three groups:

A. Cultural reproduction of institutional legitimacy

A1 The Orthodox Church as a producer and provider of institutional stability in Russia
A2 The postsocialist social ideal in para-judicial and literary discourses
A3 Images of history in the internet as a cultural context of institutional legitimacy
A4 Performativity, hierarchic coordination and authoritarian stability

B. Legitimation strategies and conflicts in elite discourses

B1 Freedom and security – the right of averting dangers in Russia
B2 The Developmental State as a legitimizing economic ideology of Russian autocracy

C. Systemic performance and institutional legitimacy

C1 Postsoviet governing. Traditions, reform discourses and institutional politics
C2 State capitalisms and dual economies
C3 Economic growth, income distribution and their development in Russia

Selected conferences, papers and workshops:

Back to the Future? Ideas and Strategies of Retrograde Modernization in Russia and the Post-Soviet Region, 23-24 October 2015, Berlin

Contestation and Democracy in Eastern Europe. Keynote Lecture, Annual Graduate Conference for East European Studies, Tutzing, 19 June 2015

Next Generation Democracy. Trends and Scenarios for Post-Soviet Eurasia