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Beyond Russia's Economy of Favours: The Role of Ambivalence

Ledeneva, AV; (2014) Beyond Russia's Economy of Favours: The Role of Ambivalence. (Centre for European Politics, Security and Integration (CEPSI) Working Papers 4). Centre for European Politics, Security and Integration (CEPSI), SSEES, UCL: London, UK. Green open access

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In this paper I suggest a network-based typology of favours that seeks to reflect their substantive ambivalence. I argue that a common exchange of favours differs from an ‘economy of favours’ in a number of ways. An economy of favours operates on the basis of favours of access, originating in the re-distribution of public resources. It can also be differentiated by its scale and the magnitude of ambivalence: substantive, functional and attitudinal. Firstly, I distinguish substantive ambivalence of favours, determined by the degree of uncertainty of obligation in social relations and intermittent display of features of gift and commodity exchanges, as well as features of benefiting from and investing into creation and maintenance of networks. Secondly, there is functional ambivalence, whereby favours originate from certain structural conditions and contradictory demands – they play supportive but also subversive roles for the formal and informal constraints that frame them. Thirdly, there is attitudinal ambivalence on the part of both individuals and governments, relying on economies of favours, but also denying engagement, criticizing economies of favours but also accepting them. I suggest a research agenda for the study of economies of favours on the basis of three propositions: conceptual innovation, methodological experimentation, and challenge of comparison. Yet these novel research agendas stumble upon the conceptual issues of ambivalence; methodological difficulties of dealing with open secrets in the field; and challenges of comparison of societies’ know-hows. Overcoming these requires some radical re-thinking in conceptual, measurement-based and policy-oriented approaches.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Beyond Russia's Economy of Favours: The Role of Ambivalence
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ssees/publishing/cepsi-workin...
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1417510
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