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Informal Economy as Rational Habit and State Criticism. An interview study on path dependence in and perceptions of Ukrainian and Belarusian petty corruption

Publiceringsår: 2010
Språk: Engelska
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Changing Europe Summer School
Dokumenttyp: Konferensbidrag
Förlag: Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic


This paper examines the continuity, change and adaptation of blat – as a Soviet time, informal, economic transaction network, that existed as a response to a non-functional economy. The analysis is based on 33 in-depth interviews conducted in 2009 during a pilot field study in Ukraine and Belarus. The main focus is on individuals’ descriptions, justifications and explanations of their ongoing informal participation in today’s blat. Theories on informal institutions, path dependence and of the relationship between individuals and the post-Soviet state are elaborated to highlight the characteristics of today’s blat transactions.

A continuous presence of blat, as readapted to new socio-economic circumstances, is stressed. Today’s blat constitutes a channel for giving bribes or to guarantee good social services. Blat involves more money and an increasing number of autonomous bribe collectors demanding bribes in the

contacts with civil servants. Individuals justify their participation in these informal activities by placing the blame on the existence of dysfunctional laws, heavy bureaucracy, lack of state control, illicit acts by other citizens or the state officials and on a low identification with the (immoral) state. Respondents also present an ongoing preference for informal solutions, as a better way of solving many everyday problems.


  • Political Science
  • Ethnology


Informal Networks, Clientelism and Corruption in Politics, State Administration, Business and Society. Case Studies from Central and Eastern Europe

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