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Cross-Influence of the Formation of Civil Society and Social Transformations

Department: Centre for Studies of Civil Society and Nonprofit Sector

Коды по классификатору Elibrary:
06.00.00 Экономика. Экономические науки
06.56.00 Общественно-экономическая структура
06.56.01 Общие вопросы

Object of the research

The object of the research presented in the report is the cross-influence of the formation of civil society and social transformations

Goal of Research

The goal of the research presented in the report consisted in disclosing the role civil society plays in transforming social and economic institutions in Russia and to develop recommendations to expand the role of civil society structures and practices in the process of the Russian modernization.

Empirical sources of the research

  • 605 publications by Russian and foreign scholars on major related topics;
  • data sets gathered through own sociological monitoring of Russian civil society;
  • data sets provided by government statistics covering different aspects of the involvement of civil society in the Russian transformation process;
  • findings of prior research performed by the Center for Studies of Civil Society and the Non-Profit Sector at the HSE;
  • data bases and data sets of the Johns Hopkins University Comparative Nonprofit Project and of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index Project.

Major Findings

1) Our research established a positive relationship between the presence of civil society organizations and economic progress, democracy and good governance in developed and developing countries, including Eastern Europe countries accomplishing postcommunist transitions.
2) The theory rationalizing the role civil society in transforming social and economic institutions is presently dominated by approaches placing civil society within four contexts: nonprofit and voluntary associations; political activism; modernization, and government. Increasingly scholars view civil society less as a social force opposing the government but rather as a factor contributing to good governance. Civil society involves a broader range of actors in institutional transformations. The role of the third sector as provider of social services grows. This includes government funded services. NGOs borrow practices from the market sector, such as financial and personnel management, marketing, etc.
3) Thus the research of the role of civil society in social transformations includes topics related to public management, public policy, social policy, political studies at the national level, economic reforms and modernization.
4) Global civil society is on the rise. Civil society organizations are involved in preserving the environment, controlling AIDS globally. Russian NGOs active in these areas are an integral part of globalization processes.
5) Retrospective analysis proves that in the 19th – early 20th centuries Russia demonstrated a healthy growth of civil society institutions, such as voluntary self-governed associations. These institutions were actively and tangibly involved in major social transformations occurring in Russia of that period. On the eve of the Russian revolution of 1917 the level of civil society institutions gives enough proof of successes of prior modernization in Russia. It can even be argued that Russia had considerable potential to adopt a liberal model of social development in the 20th century.
6) Revolutionary events in 1917 disrupted the growth of Russian civil society. Some residual inertia in its development can be traced until the late 1930s. Beyond that the soviet administrative command system provided no room for genuine voluntary social activity. This leads us to observe that until the end of the Soviet Union social modernization and the modernization of government were imitational.
7) International comparisons show that civil society capable of an active role in controlling government action and influencing government policy requires several stages of evolution and cannot rise overnight. Our analysis shows that presently in Russia civil society organizations already accumulated a tangible potential of influence in the sphere of social policy. Lately government recognized this potential and introduced legislation providing for partnership with NGOs in provision of a broad range of social services.
8) Russia demonstrates a rise in the volunteer movement, individual philanthropy, corporate social responsibility and other civil society practices.
9) Russian civil society advances also in areas of environmental policy, local and regional development. The most recent developments show that electoral democracy may become a further area of public policy where Russian civil society contributes to transformation and modernization.
10) The report further features a considerable amount of information on best practices of cross-sectoral partnership, participation of territorial self-government in social modernization. The report includes interregional comparisons of proliferation of mechanisms of cross-sectoral partnerships, rates Russian regions according to the establishment of formal norms of coordination between NGOs and regional administrations to provide social services and formulate regional policy in this area.


Practical application of the research performed. The data and findings generated by the research performed were used in several policy papers addressed to interested government organizations in 2011. Further applications include sections on civil society provided for the “Strategy of social and economic development of the Samara Region until 2030” and for the “Strategy of social and economic development of Moscow City until 2025” produced by HSE under contract with administrations of Samara Region and Moscow. Applications also include sections for the “Annual Report on the State of Civil Society in the Russian Federation” issued by the Civil Chamber of Russia and for the proceeding of the Working Group No. 16 developing the “Strategy 2020 for Russia”

Recommendations for further applications.   The data and findings generated by the research performed can be applied in the development of policy recommendations for government and municipal administrations interested in involving civil society organizations in modernizing the provision of social services, as well as in diverse training programs for public servants.


Беневоленский В. Б. Целевые капиталы некоммерческого сектора в условиях кризиса: опыт США и уроки для российских НКО, in: XI международная научная конференция по проблемам развития экономики и общества: В 3 кн. Кн. 3. Москва : Издательский дом НИУ ВШЭ, 2011. С. 39-47.