"Cultures of informality in Eastern Europe and the post-soviet space in comparative perspective"

Crossroads Asia Lecture by Prof. Nicolas Hayoz

Date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 1.30 pm.

Venue: Center for Development Research (ZEF), room 3.004, Walter-Flex-Str. 3, 53113, Bonn.


For the presentation I would like to start by looking at the differences between informal politics in Western and Eastern Europe. To what extent are informal practices and structures in Eastern Europe different from those in established democracies. Then I will focus on “cultures of informality” in Eastern Europe and discuss them in the context of different local political and legal cultures. In many countries a specific mix of such cultures form powerful obstacles against change, particularly against democracy. Oligarchies, networks of power, clan systems or feudal-like ‘crony capitalist’ corruption networks represent typical political structures pointing to such cultures.  In the perspective of systems theory such structures or practices also represent parasitical forms of differentiation which may potentially affect the autonomy of functional systems in a specific region. More generally they can be described as resistance against democratic governance structures as well as against modernity with its differences. Political networks of power and their forms and modes of governance will be in the focus of the presentation, which will discuss the relevance of formal and informal rules by considering not only the political system but also the way the legal and the economic system interact with politics. At the end I would also like to point to our ongoing study on informal networks in Georgia and Armenia.

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