An examination of the management of Russian civil society

  • Sergej Ljubownikow

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis begins by examining the concepts of civil society and social capital. Specifically, it outlines the role of health and education third sector organisations (TSOs) in building civil society and generating social capital which is conducive to democratisation. Following this, the thesis presents literature on civil society development in the context of the Russian Federation, highlighting a void in our understanding of health and education TSOs in this context. The literature review examines cultural-historic antecedents and their impact on civil society development. These antecedents result in three constraints which limit TSOs ability to establish civil society as an autonomous space. In light of these constraints, the thesis explores the present day realities faced by Russian TSOs and proposes that the all-dominant nature of the Russian state leads to managed civil society arrangements. Consequently the thesis addresses the question of how a managed civil society manifests itself in the context of the Russian Federation. Using a qualitative research design, the thesis investigates the control mechanisms created by legislative framework, the ability of third sector organisations to substitute for the state, and the organisational characteristics of TSOs within a managed civil society space. Based on interview data from 82 TSOs across three geographical regions, the empirical chapters explore these three aspects in-depth. Firstly, the thesis demonstrates how a specific legislative framework is used as a legally mandated method to manage civil society. Secondly, the thesis explores more subtle attempts by the state to manage civil society. And thirdly, the thesis highlights ways in which the state controls TSOs and coerces them to mimic marionette organisations. Overall, the evidence presented throughout the thesis highlights the idiosyncratic nature of managed civil society arrangements in Russia in which the state is able to control and direct civil society
Date of AwardMay 2011
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJoanne Crotty (Supervisor)


  • civil society
  • Russia
  • third sector organisations
  • third sector
  • service provision

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