InPutin's Labor Dilemma, Stephen Crowley investigates how the fear of labor protest has inhibited substantial economic transformation in Russia. Putin boasts he has the backing of workers in the country's industrial heartland, but as economic growth slows in Russia, reviving the economy will require restructuring the country's industrial landscape. At the same time, doing so threatens to generate protest and instability from a key regime constituency. However, continuing to prop up Russia's Soviet-era workplaces, writes Crowley, could lead to declining wages and economic stagnation, threatening protest and instability.
Crowley explores the dynamics of a Russian labor market that generally avoids mass unemployment, the potentially explosive role of Russia's monotowns, conflicts generated by massive downsizing in "Russia's Detroit" (Tol'yatti), and the rapid politicization of the truck drivers movement.
Labor protests currently show little sign of threatening Putin's hold on power, but the manner in which they are being conducted point to substantial chronic problems that will be difficult to resolve. Putin's Labor Dilemma demonstrates that the Russian economy must either find new sources of economic growth or face stagnation. Either scenario—market reforms or economic stagnation—raises the possibility, even probability, of destabilizing social unrest.
1. The Political Consequences of Russian Deindustrialization
2. Russia's Peculiar Labor Market and the Fear of Social Explosion
3. Russia's Labor Productivity Trap
4. Monotowns and Russia's Post-Soviet Urban Geography
5. Labor Protest in Russia's Hybrid Regime
6. Downsizing in "Russia's Detroit"
7. The Dread of a Color Revolution
8. Russia's Truckers and the Road to Radicalization
9. How Different Is Russia? The Comparative Context
Conclusion: Overcoming Russia's Labor Dilemmas
Stephen Crowley is Professor and Chair of the Department of Politics, Oberlin College, and author of Hot Coal, Cold Steel.
Putin's Labor Dilemma offers a historically-informed and spatially-sensitive account of economic and political change in post-communist Russia. It also offers valuable insights into understanding societal change in (post)industrial societies beyond the post-communist world. This is an excellent book, which I would recommend to anyone interested in Russian geography, current politics, or labor movements.
~Eurasian Geography and Economics
Putin's Labor Dilemma is an invaluable resource in understanding why and how Russia's labor movements have not successfully influenced the government in many cases, but why the Russian government still rightly worries about them. Many observers have long discounted the political sway of labor in post-communist Russia. Crowley gives us good reason to keep labor politics central in our understanding how Putin navigates stability and stagnation.
~The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review