Atwal, Maya (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This study investigates the relative impact of state sponsorship on the democratic effects of participation in the case of two Russian youth organisations – Nashi and the Young Guard, which were established with Kremlin support in 2005. In doing so this study questions the assumption that state involvement necessarily has a corrosive influence on participation and asserts the value of studying state-sponsored participatory initiatives. It concludes that the potential democratic effects of state-sponsored participation should not be disregarded solely on the basis of state involvement for two reasons: Firstly, the impact of state sponsorship on the democratic effects of participation is shaped by other factors, including the socio-political environment and the agency of participants. The state may have a vested interest in supporting some positive democratic effects of participation to further its own aims. Secondly, there are limits to the state‘s power to determine the democratic effects of participation. In particular, the state is unable to control the significance attached to participation by those involved. Without rejecting scholarly work on the Kremlin‘s questionable democratic credentials or on the pro-regime youth movements‘ numerous negative tendencies, this study contends that there is much more to these Kremlin-sponsored youth movements than existing portrayals allow.
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