Authoritarian Populism and Countermovements: the study of state-society relations in contemporary Russia
This research aims to understand the nature of popular support for Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian governance and to reveal the objective and subjective factors that shape political views and preferences of ‘ordinary Russians’ – conservative residents of small towns, suburbs, and villages – who are the main supporters of Putin’s regime. This project shows how historical legacies are employed in the state-society relations in contemporary Russia and contributes to a better understanding of the rising authoritarian populism in Russia and globally.
Authoritarian populism has been spreading across the world. Its main features are a coercive, disciplinary state, a rhetoric of national interests, populist unity between ‘the people’ and an authoritarian leader, nostalgia for ‘past glories’ and confrontations with ‘Others’ at home and/or abroad. The rise of authoritarian populism is primarily linked to the recent political events, such as Donald Trump’s election, the Brexit referendum, Erdoğan’s power grab in Turkey, and the entry of right-wing political parties into many European parliaments. Meanwhile, in Russia, a similar type of governance has existed for quite some time. This research aims to understand the nature of popular support for Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian governance and to assess the stability of the existing regime in Russia. I apply the framework of ‘naive monarchism’ – the traditional tsarist myths in ‘the benevolent tsar’ and ‘loyal peasants’. These myths were maintained by the tsar for purposes of social control, and used by peasants in their grievances to exploit divisions within officialdom and shield themselves from repressions. Naive monarchism was the backbone of Tsardom and has re-emerged in Putin’s Russia. This project shows how historical legacies are employed in the state-society relations in contemporary Russia and contributes to a better understanding of the rising authoritarian nationalist politics and ideology in Russia and globally.
Project members: Natalia Mamonova