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Informality in Eastern Europe

Structures, Political Cultures and Social Practices

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Edited By Christian Giordano and Nicolas Hayoz

This volume deals with different aspects of informal structures and practices in Eastern Europe. Its objectives are twofold. It aims at discovering whether or to what extent informal structures and practices in Eastern Europe have meanings, functions, forms and effects different from those that can be observed in the politics and societies of Western Europe. The authors of this volume – most of them are from the region – have been invited to discuss the scientific relevance of the distinction informal / formal in their respective field of research or discipline. This points to the second objective of this volume which is to encourage a more fruitful interaction between disciplines that often disregard each other and which, despite inevitable and essential epistemological differences, have significant shared interests such as the comparative analysis of political phenomena in terms of elementary forms of social organization. The relation between informality and formality in a more methodologically pluralist and ultimately holistic way can be analysed via regards croisés between the disciplines anthropology, political science and sociology. This allows the extension of this comparative and multidisciplinary approach to other themes and phenomena of mutual interests.
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Corruption Networks in the Sphere of Higher Education: An Example from Russian Mass Universities

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Introduction

The radical transformation of all social institutions in post-Soviet Russia can most clearly be seen in the changes that have taken place in the higher education sphere. The former socialist model of higher education was completely based on state financing. Universities were a part of the general system of a planned economy where all parameters of their activities were defined according to the state priorities and were dictated “from above”. The Ministry of Education determined which specialties were necessary at each university, how many students would be trained in what fields and in which establishments they would go to work after their studies. In practice it meant that all students received not only a free-of-charge education but also obligatory employment after graduation.

The transition to the market economy for higher education in the 1990s began with the sharp reduction of state financing norms per student. At the same time universities had an opportunity to define the directions of their educational activity independently: to open new specialties, to assign additional services to the student population, to enrol students who were ready to pay for their education in the areas that had been limited by the budget. In a short time, such independence resulted in an educational boom, and higher education took on a mass character.

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