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Open Secrets and Knowing Smiles

Ledeneva, A; (2011) Open Secrets and Knowing Smiles. East European Politics and Societies , 25 (4) pp. 720-736. 10.1177/0888325410388558. Green open access

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Abstract

Given the importance of informal ways of getting things done in postsocialist societies, research into the field of unwritten rules and informal practices has been slow to develop. In studying such rules and practices, the researcher often encounters skepticism or hostility stemming from the ways in which people relate to tacit agreements, or else she or he is greeted by an ambivalent smile of complicity—a knowing smile. This article draws a connection between knowing smiles and open secrets and argues that these notions illuminate a great deal about how the “grey areas” of social life function. It also suggests that such seemingly trivial aspects of everyday life can reveal profound features of social institutions and point in the direction of innovative research.

Type: Article
Title: Open Secrets and Knowing Smiles
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0888325410388558
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1177/0888325410388558
Language: English
Keywords: open secrets, knowing smiles, unwritten rules, tacit knowledge, informal agreements, everyday life
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1346410
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