Public Defence of Maksim Kulaev’s PhD thesis

On 7 January, Maksim Kulaev will defend his doctoral dissertation titled “Trade unions, transformism and the survival of Russian authoritarianism“. The public defence takes place online via Zoom.

The supervisor of the dissertation is Professor Viacheslav Morozov (University of Tartu). Emilia Palonen, University Researcher in Political Science at the University of Helsinki, will serve as the opponent.

Synopsis of the dissertation:

This study explores the mechanisms of domestication and neutralization of social and labor protests in Russia. While economic difficulties and governmental policies regularly provoke grassroots discontent and spark conflicts, these do not present any political challenge to the regime. Some of the numerous protests formally succeed as the authorities satisfy the demands from below. At the same time, the success remains localized. Local victories contribute to the sustainability of the existing regime and do not enhance the capacity for protest mobilization. This dissertation uses the concept of transformism proposed by Antonio Gramsci and developed, in a poststructuralist setting, by Ernesto Laclau.

This study demonstrates how transformism works by studying Russian trade unions. It analyzes the structure of the unions, their discourses, and then focuses on concrete cases of unions’ activities in three North-Western regions of Russia, as well as the 2018 nation-wide campaign against the pension reform. Trade unions are regularly involved in social and labor conflicts by spearheading local protests, which often succeed in getting concessions from the employers and the authorities. In the process, however, social and labor conflicts are channeled into local agreements between the authorities and the workers. Thus, transformism neutralizes protest movements and contributes to the survival of the authoritarian regime.

Click here for the online version of the dissertation

The defence link in Zoom: (Meeting ID: 856 4963 5661, Passcode: 533810). Please note that the defence will be videorecorded for internal use.

Forwarded by:
Maili Vilson
Head of Communications