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Book Launch: Flexible Authoritarianism – Cultivating Ambition and Loyalty in Russia

April 23 @ 18:00 - 20:00

Schwenck, Anna (2024). Flexible Authoritarianism. Cultivating Ambition and Loyalty in Russia, Oxford University Press.
Flexible Authoritarianism challenges the notion that authoritarianism’s transnational rise constitutes a backlash against economic globalization. Describing a governmental approach that simultaneously incentivizes a can-do spirit and suppresses dissent, the book points out resonances between authoritarian and neoliberal ideologies in today’s comeback of strongman rule. Drawing on field observations, in-depth interviews, and analyses of video clips, it conveys the look and feel of flexible authoritarianism in Russia through the eyes of up-and-coming youth. The author analyzes ways in which the insignia of cool start-up capitalism and familiar cultural forms such as the summer camp help stabilize the regime, while also showing how up-and-coming youth both embrace and contest loyalty to the government.

Anna Schwenck’s research lies at the intersection of cultural and political sociology. She is particularly interested in how cultural understandings, be they transnational or locally specific, shape political behavior.  She studied the resonances between authoritarianism and neoliberalism in Russia, pandemic and science skepticism in German-speaking countries, and processes of re-traditionalization in popular music cultures. Her recent work investigates the role of liberation songs and narratives in protest and conventional politics in South Africa.

Anna Schwenck is currently employed in the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Siegen and in the Siegen-based collaborative research center “Transformations of the Popular” (SFB 1472). She is also a visiting researcher in the Anthropology Department at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. She earned a PhD in Sociology and an MA in Social Sciences from Humboldt University Berlin, as well as a BA in Cultural Studies from Viadrina European University, Frankfurt (Oder). She was a visiting student/scholar at University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies, in the Sociology Department at the University of California (Berkeley), and at the Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow).

Tatiana Golova, Dr. phil., is a sociologist. Before joining ZOiS as a researcher, Golova worked at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Magdeburg and at the Institute for East European Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her regional focus is on Russia, Germany, and the transnational spaces in-between. Her research interests include civic and political activism, migration, radicalism, and communication via social media. In her work, she combines interpretative qualitative research with social network analysis and natural language processing methods. She is a co-founder of the research network “Emerging Russian Diasporas and Anti-War Movements.”

Alexander Bikbov, is a sociologist, editor and a translater. Please find more information on his website: https://a.bikbov.ru/english/


April 23
18:00 - 20:00


Zentrum für Osteuropa- und internationale Studien (ZOiS)
Center for Comparative Research on Democracy (CCRD)


Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department for Social Sciences, ground floor, room 002
Universitätsstrasse 3B
Berlin, Berlin 10117 Germany
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