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Heterarchy: Russian politics between chaos and control

Sakwa, Richard (2021) Heterarchy: Russian politics between chaos and control. Post-Soviet Affairs, 37 (3). pp. 222-241. ISSN 1060-586X. (doi:10.1080/1060586X.2020.1871269) (KAR id:85352)


Russian governance is a dynamic combination of horizontal and vertical factors. Heterarchy suggests that elements of an organization are not necessarily hierarchical (not ranked), and that they have the potential to be ranked in a number of different ways. Three levels to the system are identified: the macro (where the four major ideological-interest groups of Russian modernity are located); the meso (encompassing the various corporate, regional, and institutional actors as well as social organizations); and the micro (the personalities and networks in the current constellation of power). Vladimir Putin’s statecraft represents a distinctive response to the problem of heterarchy. Putin’s control mechanisms have reproduced features of the late Soviet “stability system,” which in the end proved far from stable. The regime-state is designed to constrain the socio-political reality of heterarchy, but “Hobbesian” mechanical stability impedes the development of more organic and adaptive “Lockean” forms of political integration and societal management. The contradiction between chaos and control is not resolved and has become constitutive of the post-communist Russian polity.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/1060586X.2020.1871269
Uncontrolled keywords: Heterarchy, chaos, Putin, factions, stability, regime-state, control
Subjects: J Political Science
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Richard Sakwa
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2021 11:11 UTC
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 15:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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