Since the beginning of post-communist transitions, the challenge for reformers has been how to mobilize winners and demobilize losers of economic transformation. Accounts of dual transitions suggested that it would be an uphill fight: economic crisis hit just when political liberalization offered the losers multiple opportunities to voice their discontent. But a reading of the comparative literature on participation implies the reverse-hardship would cut into individual resources and thus reduce, rather than encourage, political activism. In this paper, we assess the connection between economic hardship and participation in the Russian transition. We focus on two of the activities that should be closely tied to the expression of discontent, voting and protest. Using data from 1995, we argue that economics matters, but not quite in the way predicted by accounts of dual transitions or by the resource model. Neither objective economic dislocation nor dissatisfaction with economic conditions takes people out of politics. In fact, it is the relatively well-to-do who opt out.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Political Science and International Relations