Work Package 1 - Hybrid Political Regimes
Research Approach and Georgraphical Focus
The concept of "hybridity" is employed to analyse factors causing stability and instability at communal level in the varying political regimes. Hybridity is defined as co-existence or interaction of practices that follow logics of varying social orders. In focus are practices of pre-Soviet times, Soviet rule, authoritarian character and also elements of democratic rule.
In Karbadino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Dagestan, Chechnya and North Ossetia the researchers analyse local reactions to state interventions (development programmes) at communal level. In Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia the researchers explore conflicts over access to public goods.
The key data are taken from qualitative interviews with state and communal officials and ordinary citizens. A quantitative survey was conducted in the North Caucasus.
The research on the North Caucasus showed that state-society relations are highly conflictive. Tensions increase with the ability of the central state actors to penetrate at the communal level. Tensions also intensify if powerful state actors have strong investment resources at hands. State interventions trigger less conflict. In regions in which state actors hardly have influence, corruption is high. Here interventions lead to a "budget economy" on paper.
The geographic conditions and multi-ethnicity may amplify a conflict, but they are not its main source. The observed conflicts had not only destabilizing effect. In some cases they helped establishing communal institutions for civic participation.
In the South Caucasus, the dissatisfaction with the living conditions especially in minor towns and villages is strong. Institutions that allow for a smooth communication between people and state authorities are nearly absent. Adopted institutions, which in democracies support good local governance, do not improve the situation. Their intended function is altered by the domestic institutional environment to which they have been imported. They thus hardly empower communities to improve the dissatisfying access to public goods.
The interaction with formal and informal institutions established in the political regimes in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia changes their function and makes them into institutions that support the logic of the established regimes. The preliminary findings for the North and South Caucasus suggest that the emerged patterns of hybridity help mitigating conflicts between residents as well as local and central state authorities. In addition, the ruling elites manage to employ hybridity in favour of stabilizing their regimes.
Kabardino-Balkaria State University
University of St. Gallen