Til bevillingsoversigt

Everyday Political Economy in Russia: from Capitalist Realism to a Micropolitics of Desire

Monograph Fellowships


My project it about Russia's political economy but with a twist - it connects macro and global perspectives with the experience of ordinary people and uses ethnography as its main method. It makes a simultaneously theoretically 'macro' and empirically 'micro' exploration of the impact of the realization and reality of capitalism in contemporary Russia. In this sense it aims for a sociological and anthropological holistic approach.


The purpose of this book is to intervene in debates on the 'other' Europe which in turn inform our own societies. The fate of politics and people in states like Russia has revelatory and explanatory power - both positive and negative - for own societies' possible futures. For example, work on the Covid pandemic shows that Russia's depletion of social trust and social protection has had devastating results. At the same time, paying attention to 'micropolitics' offers hope for the future. In the most difficult of circumstances, ordinary people can craft 'weapons of the weak' to promote and enable vibrant communities and productive lives. Thus this book is not only about Russia, but a contribution to the emerging perspective on 'everyday politics' in sociology and political anthropology.


I have spent over ten years collecting ethnographic material and doing participant observation. I spent time working in a factory, working with union organisers, with police officers and business owners, travelling with migrants, and just 'hanging out' in a group of young people as they started their working lives. Every year when I'm not teaching I go back and 're-interview' my research participants. Some of my work is based on formal interviews, but a lot is from first-hand observation. I have a lot of material, but this project funding will give me the time to transform it into a book.


My project has something important to contribute to the global conversation on Russia. While most of the focus of the scholarship has been on Moscow, President Putin's leadership, and the declining importance of institutions, my project will examine Russian political development from below and in a much broader perspective. This project is also about respecting research participants and giving them a voice to speak in a global context where the exploited and vulnerable are often ignored, as well as staking a claim to the scholarly value of such voice-giving; it corrects a project of 'unseeing' and unfeeling where intellectuals silence the weakest in any society by failing to work with and through their experiences. It sets the example of Denmark in the world as a champion of emancipatory scholarship and engagement with people living in very different contexts.