RESEARCH AND AREAS OF INTEREST
- The Post-Soviet region and other states in Eastern and Central Europe (politics, economics, foreign policy, military, culture, post-Soviet economic transition)
- Corruption (as well as other forms of informal economy and economic crime)
- Swedish politics (national and foreign policy, economics, public administration, public access to information and secrecy act, whistleblowing)
- The EU, EU relations with Eastern and Central Europe, Eastern enlargement processes.
Mi Lennhag holds degrees in political science (including courses in economics, statistics, history and rhetoric), and in Eastern European studies and Russian.
Her PhD project examines citizens’ attitudes to corruption in contemporary Eastern Europe, and includes fieldwork in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Poland.
Since 2008, she has been giving lectures at universities and commissioned education about the post-Soviet region (politics, economics, culture), on Swedish politics, public administration and constitutional issues, on the EU and Eastern enlargement, and on corruption and economic crime (both in Sweden and abroad).
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.
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