Minding their own business: an ethnographic study of entrepreneurship in Putin’s Russia

Kennedy, John (2018). Minding their own business: an ethnographic study of entrepreneurship in Putin’s Russia. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Russian entrepreneurs have long faced considerable difficulties. While much is known about what these difficulties are, less is known about how entrepreneurs respond to them, what it is like to be an entrepreneur under these circumstances and why they bother in the first place. In this thesis I address these questions by conducting a multi-sited ethnography within three small Siberian enterprises, observing the directors as they conduct their everyday business. I find that these entrepreneurs all resent their vulnerable position in the political economy but that they have developed a capacity to survive or thrive in spite of the obstacles and threats they encounter. This capacity, I argue, is less a consequence of their commercial acumen than their understanding of what can be achieved given their particular circumstances, their knowledge that business-state relations take an informal, personalised form, and their preparedness to resist predatory outsiders. This leads me to reconsider the meaning of entrepreneurship in the Russian context. Furthermore, my informants’ agency presents a challenge to the idea in predominant political economic theories that the Russian state dominates the private sector. I therefore reconceptualise business-state relations using Douglass C. North et al’s Limited Access Order theory in combination with my empirical materials. This provides a more accurate theory that accepts the pre-eminent role of the state in the political economy while accommodating the agency displayed by my informants.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
P Language and Literature > PG Slavic, Baltic, Albanian languages and literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/7305


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