East European Societies

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The chair’s research portfolio covers mainly three major areas. Firstly, we look into how authoritarian political rule affects the societies of the post-Soviet Eurasian countries. We deal, above all, with the role of the “medium level” of the power hierarchy beyond closely defined political elites – the bureaucracy and the regional political structures. For instance, we investigate incentive structures for bureaucrats and their unintended consequences, the transfer of information between different actors, and informal power relationships within the bureaucracy, as well as sub-national political regimes.

Secondly, we deal with the impact of historical legacies on the current political and societal development. We study, for instance, the effects of regional variety in the societal structures during the Soviet era on corruption and democracy in modern Russia. An integral part of our research is the search for concrete mechanisms explaining the persistence of the historical legacies along with the analysis of the interaction of various legacies from different epochs.

Third, our research covers the international cooperation of authoritarian regimes, including issues of autocracy promotion and of the regional organizations dominated by autocracies (like the Eurasian Economic Union).
Our chair’s research is explicitly interdisciplinary and combines findings from political science and economics. In methodical terms, our research is based on quantitative methods, above all the analysis of regional data sets for large post-Soviet states (mainly Russia), along with micro data sets and experiments. Nevertheless, many projects use a mixed methods design and combine qualitative and quantitative methods.

The results of the department’s research were published in renowned political and social science journals (World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, Journal of Democracy, Social Science Research, Political Studies, Review of International Political Economy, Review of International Organizations, International Affairs, Studies in Comparative International Development, Public Choice, European Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Comparative Economics) as well as in leading journals from the field of Eastern European Studies (Post-Soviet Affairs, Europe-Asia Studies, Communist and Post-Communist Studies). Monographs bases on our research appeared in Oxford University Press, Palgrave MacMillan, Edward Elgar, Routledge and Ashgate, among others.