Shock-Resistant Authoritarianism: Schoolteachers and Infrastructural State Capacity in Putin’s Russia

Natalia Forrat

I use the case of the 2012 presidential election in Russia to reveal a new “infrastructural” mechanism of authoritarian resilience. This mechanism complements the currently dominant explanation of authoritarian resilience focused on material redistribution. I argue that public sector organizations may significantly increase the ability of an autocrat to implement political decisions on the ground. This mechanism can partially explain Vladimir Putin’s strong performance in the 2012 election, during which schoolteachers—who frequently served as members of precinct-level electoral commissions—engaged in agitation and electoral fraud. I find that if the factors contributing to the pressure on teachers were eliminated, Vladimir Putin might not have won the election in the first round.

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Natalia Forrat

This profile was current as of 2018, when she was part of the on-campus Kellogg community. Natalia Forrat (PhD, Northwestern University), a 2017–18 Kellogg Visiting Fellow, is a sociologist who studies how contemporary authoritarian regimes build relationships with their societies in ways that help autocrats survive...
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