Reisinger, W., Zaloznaya, M., and V. Claypool. 2016. “Does Everyday Corruption Affect How Russians
View Their Political Leadership?”
Do Russians’ personal experiences with corruption influence how they evaluate their political leaders and, if so, in what direction? In addressing this question, we focus specifically on small-scale corruption that arises when Russians encounter employees of service provision organizations. We analyze survey data gathered in the summer of 2015 from Russia to trace the links between personal corrupt behavior and political attitudes. We show that participation in everyday corruption lowers a person’s support for the political regime, both as a bivariate relationship and in a multivariate model with controls. Being involved in corrupt transactions reduces support for the regime through two indirect mechanisms: by making the political leadership’s performance seem worse and by heightening perceptions that corruption is widespread among the country’s leaders. We find no support for arguments in the literature that bribery and other forms of bureaucratic corruption help citizens pursue their needs in the face of inefficient state institutions and less developed economies. In Russia, those who frequently encounter corruption are less, not more, happy with the regime. Read more
Ruch, A.M. and M. Zaloznaya. 2016. “Genetically Modified Foods: Moral and Ethical Challenges to Law and Science,” in Davis, B. (ed.) Corruption: Political, Economic and Social Issues Nova Science Publishers, 233-267.
Social movements often use corruption accusations to discredit their opponents. In this chapter, we argue that corruption scandals offer an excellent opportunity to study what happens when moral understandings conflict with positivistic maxims based on science and law. We analyze three cases of alleged corruption related to genetically modified foods where corruption claims based on ethical-critical logics were confronted with objective-formal counter-arguments. In the first case, several scientists accused Food and Chemical Toxicology journal editors of corruptly retracting their 2012 study on GMO toxicity. This instance of corruption contestation ended in circumvention of ethical-critical logics by objective-formal framings when the journal editors and GMO proponents successfully argued that moral arguments were irrelevant to the debate since the standards of scientific evidence, allegedly, justified the retraction. In the second case, activists accused a private pro-GMO industry group of corruption after it spent $10.6 million to campaign against an initiative to label GMOs in Washington State. This confrontation resulted in the partial accommodation of ethical-critical arguments: the industry group immediately disclosed the sources and sizes of their contributions, but proceeded to launch a counter-suit and defeat the initiative. The last case of alleged corruption involved the controversial passing of public legislation that limited the role of courts in regulating GMOs. The confrontation between activists’ ethical-critical logics and pro-GMO politicians’ defenses based on objective-formal arguments resulted in the temporary silencing of the former. Although GMO proponents initially overcame the opposition, the law failed when it came up for renewal six months later. We explain this variation in the outcomes of corruption-related discursive contestations with the different ratio of public and private actors across the three cases. Our analysis suggests that the larger the presence of public actors in a given debate, the more bargaining power ethical-critical logics have relative to objective-formal claims. Read more
Does Authoritarianism Breed Corruption? Reconsidering the Relationship between Autocratic Governance and Extra-Legal Behavior in Bureaucracies (Law & Social Inquiry, 2015).
This article advocates for ethnographic and historical study of the political roots of corruption. Focusing on informal economies of Belarusian universities, it reexamines two theoretical propositions about corruption in autocracies. The first proposition is that authoritarianism breeds bureaucratic corruption; the second is that autocrats grant disloyal subjects corruption opportunities in exchange for political compliance. Using qualitative data, the author finds that autocracies can generate favorable as well as unfavorable preconditions for bureaucratic corruption. The author argues that lenient autocratic governance, characterized by organizational decoupling, creates favorable conditions for bureaucratic corruption. In contrast, consolidated autocracy, defined by rigid organizational controls, is unfavorable to such corruption. The author also concludes that in autocracies, disloyal populations may be cut off from rather than granted opportunities for bureaucratic corruption. These findings suggest that the relationship between autocratic governance and corruption is more complex than current studies are able to reveal due to their methodological limitations. Read more
Zaloznaya, M. 2014. “Social Psychology of Corruption: Why It Does Not Exist and Why It Should,” Sociology Compass 8(2): 187-202.
In recent decades, corruption has emerged as a major cause of global inequality and an important subject of social scientific research. This article argues that social psychologists have not taken full advantage of analytical tools at their disposal to generate explanatory accounts of corruption in non-Western contexts. In the first part of the article, the author maintains that the lack of social psychological research on why people engage in corruption is due to the dearth of empirical data on corruption, the theoretical complexity of this phenomenon, and current popularity of neoliberalism in politics and academic research. In the second part of the article, the author argues that the symbolic interactionism school of social psychology has a number of tools that could be more helpful in exploring the causes of corruption in non-Western settings than rational-choice approaches that are currently en vogue. The article concludes with an argument that such analyses could generate culturally sensitive as well as policy-relevant theories of corruption. Read more
Zaloznaya, Marina. "Beyond Anti-Corruptionism: Sociological Imagination and Comparative Study of Corruption,"
forthcoming in Comparative Sociology
This article outlines and illustrates a theoretical blueprint for comparative sociology of corruption. The author argues that existing cross-national studies of corruption, influenced by the global political movement for transparency, undermine fundamental sociological principles. At the same time, truly sociological studies of corruption are unfavorable to comparisons due to their emphasis on singularity of informal economies in non-Western societies. The author argues that there are three analytical foci that can help researchers resolve the tension between ‘insensitive’ large-N and ‘overly-sensitive’ small-N studies of corruption: the principle of social embeddedness, multiplicity of rationality, and localized power implications. A comparative study of university corruption in Post-Soviet Ukraine and Belarus is used to illustrate the strengths of the proposed analytical framework. Read more
Zaloznaya, Marina. 2012. "Organizational Cultures as Agents of Differential Association: Explaining the Variation in Bribery Practices in Ukrainian Universities" Crime, Law, and Social Change 58(3): 295-320.
This article explores the variation in bureaucratic bribery practices of ordinary Ukrainians. Despite common arguments about corruption-generating structural constraints of economic transition and about the regional culture of corruption in Eastern Europe, interviews with university-affiliated Ukrainians reveal significant variation in rates and patterns of their engagement in bribery. This article shows that participation in corruption is closely associated with actors' exposure to organizational cultures. It uses Edwin Sutherland's differential association theory of crime to argue that the acquisition of definitions that are either favorable or unfavorable to bribery through exposure to different organizational cultures of universities leads Ukrainians to either commit or avoid bribery. Students and professors acquire crime-related definitions through (1) encounters with institutionalized bribery mechanisms, (2) conversations with peers and colleagues with more substantial experience within specific universities; and (3) observations of other students and instructors. Karl Weick's notio of organizational enactment is argued to be the mechanism whereby these learned definitions translate into specific bribery-related behaviors. Inasmuch as actin against these definitions may lead to academic or professional failure, testing their validity is risky for university members. The processes of organizational enactment of bribery-related definitions are, therefore, at the core of organizations' role as agents of differential association. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the potential synthesis of differential association and organizational theories as a powerful tool for the study of bureaucratic corruption. Read more
Zaloznaya, Marina and Ted Gerber. 2012. "Voluntary Group Migration: Theoretical Considerations and Case Study," Population and Development Review 38(2): 259-284.
Despite the proliferation of theories explaining migration behavior, one significant form of migration cannot be adequately analyzed with existing theoretical perspectives: voluntary group migration. The definition of this type of migration rests on two analytical distinctions. First, group migration differs from individual or household migration in the unit of analysis: self-recognizable groups, rather than individuals (or households), decide to migrate and undertake the move collectively. Whereas the anticipated benefits of individual migrations accrue to individuals and, in some cases, their households, group migration is motivated by expected benefits for the broader collectivity. Second, voluntary migration, unlike forced migration, results from a freely made choice by the migrating party rather than from external compulsion by human or natural forces. Typical forms of voluntary group migration include the voluntary repatriation of refugees to their country of origin, settler movements, and the relocation of ethnic groups to specific territories to make claims for national self-determination. We demonstrate the distinctive characteristics of voluntary group migration that elude current theories and develop a theory regarding the conditions that typically produce this type of population flow. Because the decision-making and mobilization leading to voluntary group migration are inherently collective, social movement theory offers analytical tools that, combined with concepts offered by classical migration theories, help construct a promising theoretical framework. to illustrate our ideas, we discuss the contemporary resettlement of Crimean Tatars to their original homeland. We conclude with suggestions for further empirical and theoretical work on voluntary group migration. Read more
Zaloznaya, Marina and John Hagan. 2012. "Fighting Human Trafficking or Instituting Totalitarian Control? The Political Co-optation of Human Rights Protection in Belarus", in Davis, K., Fisher, A., Kingsbury, B. and S. Merry (eds.) Governance by Indicators: Global Power through Quantification and Rankings Oxford University Press, pp. 344-365.
The idea for this chapter arose from an apparent paradox of human rights protection practices in Belarus. The Belarusian bid to join the UN Human Rights Council was rejected in 2007 due to the country’s “appalling human rights record.” Amnesty International USA reported regular abuses of the rights to free expression, assembly, and fair trial in Belarus; the US-Based Freedom House grouped Belarus among 17 countries with “extremely oppressive environments, minimal basic rights and persistent human rights violations.” At the same time, Belarus was lauded by the US Department of State and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as a regional leader in protecting its citizens against human trafficking. Using the example of Belarus, we examine how human rights indicators can be used to create a facade behind which further human rights abuses are perpetrated. We argue that the authoritarian Belarusian government chose to pursue an eclectic combination of anti-trafficking measures with excessive zeal because they (1) improved the international image of Belarus and (2) allowed the state to further its isolationist political agenda. We suggest that the reductionist nature of indicators creates opportunities for countries that selectively comply with international human rights regulations to engage in subversive contestation of the indicator-based regime of global governance .Read more
Zaloznaya, Marina and Laura Beth Nielsen. 2011."The Experience and Consequences of Professional Marginality: The Case of Poverty Lawyers Revisited," Law & Social Inquiry 36(4): 918-944.
A partial replication of Jack Katz’s (1982) Poor People’s Lawyers in Transition, this article explores the manifestations and consequences of professional marginality of legal aid lawyers. Based on thirty-five interviews with poverty attorneys and interns in Chicago, the authors show that scarce material resources and unclear expectations continue to give rise to the marginalization of this segment of the legal profession. The authors analyzed ideological, task, status, and material dimensions of attorneys’ professional marginality. With no access to reform litigation, central to the legal aid “culture of significance” in the 1970s, present-day poverty lawyers seek new ways to cope with marginality. The authors argue that these lawyers’ coping strategies have many negative consequences. Thus, over time, poverty lawyers’ deep engagement with clients, ideals of empowerment, and social justice orientation give way to emotional detachment, complacency and an emphasis on “making do” within the constraints of the system. Read more