“Black Swan” and Other Rules of Everyday Legality in Small Business: Comparative Analysis of “Ordinary” and Politically Connected Entrepreneurs in Russia

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Maria Sakaeva


On the basis of qualitative data collected in one Russian region in 2013–2016, the article considers everyday legality for small entrepreneurs and how the law appears and materializes in their social experience, substantially influenced by the norms and requirements of state regulation. The article analyzes how entrepreneurs cope with the law, legal institutions, and authorities—how and why they apply the law (or refuse to do so) in interactions with state bodies and officials. This topic is highly relevant due to the overregulation of the economy and of the state in contemporary Russia. Entrepreneurs in this study are defined as social actors who are not only the objects of influence from the law, but who form the field for implementing the law through their own entrepreneurial activity.
The research shows why and how experiences and resources arising from political affiliation open up a wide range of actions with the law and its agents for entrepreneurs elected to regional and local legislatures. The study reveals that “ordinary” entrepreneurs have access to a certain set of possibilities for maneuvering within the system of state regulation and they are able to protect themselves in coping with the state and its agents. A comparative analysis of everyday legality of politically affiliated and “ordinary” entrepreneurs shows that different resources, previous experiences, and status trigger the restrictive or permissive effects of formal institutions in the process of entrepreneurial activity.
The main idea of the study is that political affiliation should not be understood solely as a source of privileges and favorable conditions. Political status causes the emergence of various tactics of resistance to the rules of state regulation (from informal nets to lawsuits to the court). However, a seat in an elected body does not guarantee that one will be granted exceptions to the rules of the game. It unfolds within the specific social space of a small city, where it is impossible to draw a line between formal and informal, between law on the books and law in action.

Article in Russian

DOI: 10.25285/2078-1938-2019-11-1-31-56


Entrepreneurship, Everyday Legality, Mobilization of Law, Post-Soviet Studies, Politically Connected Business, State Regulation

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