On 7 January at 14:15 Maksim Kulaev will defend his doctoral dissertation “Trade unions, transformism and the survival of Russian authoritarianism”.
Prof. Viacheslav Morozov, University of Tartu
Dr. Emilia Palonen, University of Helsinki (Finland)
This study explores the mechanisms of domestication and neutralization of social and labor protests in Russia. While economic difficulties and governmental policies regularly provoke grassroots discontent and spark conflicts, these do not present any political challenge to the regime. Some of the numerous protests formally succeed as the authorities satisfy the demands from below. At the same time, the success remains localized. Local victories contribute to the sustainability of the existing regime and do not enhance the capacity for protest mobilization. This dissertation uses the concept of transformism proposed by Antonio Gramsci and developed, in a poststructuralist setting, by Ernesto Laclau.
This study demonstrates how transformism works by studying Russian trade unions. It analyzes the structure of the unions, their discourses, and then focuses on concrete cases of unions’ activities in three North-Western regions of Russia, as well as the 2018 nation-wide campaign against the pension reform. Trade unions are regularly involved in social and labor conflicts by spearheading local protests, which often succeed in getting concessions from the employers and the authorities. In the process, however, social and labor conflicts are channeled into local agreements between the authorities and the workers. Thus, transformism neutralizes protest movements and contributes to the survival of the authoritarian regime.
The defence will take place online via Zoom, the link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85649635661 (Meeting ID: 856 4963 5661, Passcode: 533810).