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Mi Lennhag

PhD Student

Political Science



  • The Post-Soviet region/Eastern Europe (politics, economics, culture, language policy, post-Soviet economic transition)
  • Corruption (and other forms of informal economy)
  • Swedish politics (national and foreign policy, public administration, constitutional affairs / public policy / whistleblowing)
  • EU, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and enlargement processes 


Mi Lennhag is a PhD Candidate in political science at Lund University, Sweden. She holds degrees in political science and in Eastern European studies and Russian. The focus of her PhD project is corruption in contemporary Eastern Europe (including field work in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Poland). 

She has been giving lectures - on Swedish politics and public administration, the post-Soviet area (politics, culture and economy), EU policy and enlargement processes/ENP, corruption and development economy - at different universities since 2008.

Besides Swedish universities, she has worked at e.g. the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, as consultant for Transparency International, as a high school teacher, and as newspaper journalist and columnist, photographer and expert at e.g. the Swedish Radio (topics: Swedish politics and Eastern Europe).


This PhD project explores corruption and informal economic practices – directly involving or more generally described by ordinary citizens (i.e. not politicians, company executives or experts) – in contemporary Eastern Europe.

The thesis contains both quantitative methods for inference and qualitative interviews for a narrative analysis and theoretical contribution. The quantitative component will focus on the whole region of “former Soviet style economies”, while the qualitative parts will focus upon four European post-Soviet states: Ukraine, Russia (the European Kaliningrad oblast), Belarus and Lithuania.

The main focuses during the recorded, anonymous, semi-structured interviews were individuals’ descriptions, explanations and justifications of partly changed – but simultaneously ongoing, persistent and widespread – corrupt practices in a post-Soviet context.

The thesis also presents a description of the contemporary legacy or transformation of the Soviet informal distribution system blat, which was a widespread, network-based, non- monetary channel for transactions that evolved as a reaction to Soviet time shortages, bureaucracy, and hierarchies. Instead, contemporary everyday corrupt acts involve large sums of money; usage of hierarchies; demands for services instead of goods; stricter obligations; new powerful professions and informal networks as useful channels for bribing the right persons.

In addition to its empirical aims, this thesis contributes to better theoretical understanding of informal economic stability in the post-Soviet region. Citizens’ feelings regarding possibilities for change and their perceptions of and incentives for on-going informal practices are treated as important. However, we need to avoid considering everyday corrupt acts in developing countries as foremost results of lack of “desirable” perceptions of morality.

Our understanding of both informal and formal economic institutions will be enhanced when including common, everyday approaches to the informal economic arena, as well as to formal economic constrains. By highlighting aspects of the relationship and tensions between the post-Soviet states and their citizens, we will better comprehend informal economic stability. Tensions created during the Soviet era, or generating from a Soviet legacy, continue to significantly affect citizens’ perceptions and attitudes. 


Important fieldwork experience for PhD project (excluding other traveling/conferences/jobs in Eastern Europe)
[2017: Belarus (planned)]
2014: Ukraine
2011: Kaliningrad/Russia
2011: Poland
2011: Lithuania
2009: Belarus
2009: Ukraine


Retrieved from Lund University's publications database



Retrieved from Lund University's publications database


Retrieved from Lund University's publications database

Mi Lennhag
Mi Lennhag
E-mail: mi [dot] lennhag [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se

Doctoral student

Department of Political Science

+46 46 222 46 02

+46 70 950 93 23




E-mail: mi [dot] lennhag [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se
Swedish cell: +46-(0)709-509323
Blog on Eastern Europe (in Swedish):
Twitter: @LENNHAG
Skype: milennhag

Department of Political Science
Lund University
Visiting address: Paradisgatan 5H (House: Eden)
Postal address: Box 52, SE-221 00 LUND
Telephone: +46 46-222 89 52

Faculty of Social Sciences