Economic Autonomy and Democracy: Hybrid Regimes in Russia and Kyrgyzstan

McMann’s book explores the link between individual economic independence
from the state with proclivity to engage in politics in opposition to the state. The
author argues, and her findings confirm, that citizens’ willingness to engage in ‘civil
activities that enable institutions to function democratically’ (p. 183) is determined
by the degree of personal economic autonomy, by which the author means ‘the
ability to earn a living independent of the state’ (p. 4, 28). The more general objective
of this book is to contribute to the studies of uneven development of democracy
by comparing two ‘hybrid’ regimes in four provinces: two in southern Russia –
Samara and Ul’ianowvsk, and two in the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan) – Osh
and Naryn. The choice of these two regions is justified by the author’s contention
that ‘Economic autonomy from the state is most important to democratization in
post-communist countries’ (p. 168) as well as by the stark differences in levels of
economic development and maturity of democratic institutions.

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