Informell ekonomi som rationell vana och statskritik : en intervjustudie kring post-sovjetisk vardagskorruption
Informal Economy as Rational Habit and State Criticism : An Interview Study on Post-Soviet Petty Corruption
Summary, in English
This article examines continuity, change and adaptation of blat, a Soviet-time informal economic transaction network, in today’s Ukraine and Belarus. The analysis is based on 33 in-depth interviews, and the main focus is the descriptions, justifications and explanations of on-going informal participation in contemporary forms of blat. Theories on informal institutions, path dependence and the relationship between individuals and the post-Soviet state are elaborated to highlight the characteristics of contemporary blat transactions. The continued presence of blat, re-adapted to the new socio-economic circumstances, is highlighted – for instance the increased use of money in blat transactions and the growing number of autonomous bribe collectors demanding bribes in interaction with civil servants. Today’s blat is a channel for giving bribes and a guarantee for good social services. Individuals justify their participation in these informal activities by placing the blame on dysfunctional laws, heavy bureaucracy, lack of state control, illicit acts by other citizens or state officials, and on low identification with an (immoral) state. Respondents also display a preference for informal solutions, which are seen as a better way of solving many everyday problems.