Introduction: the impact of civil society on the percentage

Introduction:

 

This
research proposal will consider the relationship between post-material protest
demands and the percentage of protest free-riders in determining the strength
of civil society.

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Hypothesis:

A
shift from material to post-material demands in protests will increase the
percentage of free-riders, thus weakening civil society.

 

Definition of key concepts:

Following Aronoff
and Kubik’s definition (2013: 202-204), civil
society is a transparent secondary society, characterised by tolerance,
horizontal and democratic style of decision making, all of which is set within
the boundaries of a full legality relationship with the state.

 

Material needs mainly concern
with “material scarcities and lack of economic development that lead to a
popular emphasis on economic growth and security.” (Ishiyama, 2012: 100)

 

Post-material
needs concern with “values, such as personal freedom and political
participation, and quality of life issues.” (Ishiyama, 2012: 100)

 

To free ride means “to extract the benefits of
other people’s work without making any effort one- self.” (Newton and Deth,
2013: 298) The free-rider is the
person who free rides.

 

Justification of choice of dependent
variable: percentage of protest free-riders

 

One
way to measure the strength of civil society is through its efficiency during
protests. This research proposal will consider the percentage of free riders in
protests a determinant of civil society’s strength.

This
variable is worth taking into account because the impact of civil society on
the percentage of free-riders has less external interferences. That means that
whilst, for example, the size of civil society can be influenced by policies,
funders or other outside factors, the percentage of protest free-riders mainly
deals with how civil society manages to motivate citizens to protest, thus with
its efficiency.

 

Subsequently,
for the purpose of this coursework, an increase in the percentage of
free-riders indicates a less effective civil society, thus a decrease in its
strength.

 

Justification of choice of independent
variable: shift in protest demands

According
to Inglehart and to
Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs people pursue aims in a hierarchical order,
fulfilling their material needs first, food and sustenance, progressively
shifting to non-material needs, civil liberties, quality of life (Ishiyama,
2012: 100). This shift in needs is naturally reflected in the type of protest
demands: material and post-material.

 

There are two main
reasons that make this independent variable worth being taken into account: a
relational one and a methodological one.

 

The
relational reason connects the dependent and the independent variables through people’s
motivation to protest. Besides civil society’s effectiveness, protest demands
are also a factor that influence people’s motivation to protest or not. That
is, different categories of people are going to be motivated to protest
depending on their income, their priorities, how much they benefit from the
status-quo, their social status and the list could go on.

 

The
methodological reason deals with the low difficulty of measuring the
independent variable. Protest records are an accessible resource used to categorise
material and post-material demands in protests and their shift overtime, and
thus research results can be more accurate.

 

Other significant independent
variables:

Other
significant independent variables might include protest regulations, the
politicisation of trade unions, social inequalities, demographics.

 

Literature review:

In
the political science literature, the strength of civil society is measured from
both a micro and a macro perspective.

The
micro perspective mainly looks at civic engagement when analysing the
efficiency of civil society (Putnam 1993, Andersen/Paskeviciute 2006: 784,
Priller 2002: 42). The two are generally presumed to be directly proportional, thus
the higher the number of participants in protests, the stronger the civil
society is.

Besides
strengthening democracy, a stronger civic engagement is a social stage of
interaction among citizens thus providing with inclusion potential. Civic
engagement as an expression of common needs and demands brings people together
empowering them with a sense of belonging and self-determination. This
phenomenon is a great incentive for citizens to see themselves as possible
(direct) solutions to some of the state’s attributes in matters of development
or welfare (Fioramonti et al. 2008, Fowler 1994).

The
macro perspective looks at institutionalisation, self-determination, density,
economic size, and diversity as ways of measuring the strength of civil
society.

Institutionalisation:

CSOs
represent the infrastructure of civil society and the means to effectively attain
goals and demands. These organisations symbolise the “living space” in which
civil society can thrive. An institutional environment can thus enhance the
efficiency of promoting demands and can legitimise democratic representation of
a certain sector of population (Bendel/Kropp 1998: 52, Lauth 1999,
Hadenius/Uggla 1996, Brown/Tandon 1994, Brown/Kalegaonkar 2002, USAID 2006: 10,
Bothwell 1998, Diamond 1994, Waisman 2002, Zimmer 2003, Kopecký/Banfield 1999).
Therefore, because a stronger infrastructure provides the means for civil civil
society’s development, it can be a way of measuring it.

Self-determination:

To
be able to stand as a powerful actor, civil society must provide proof of its
self-determination. (Schmitter 1986; 6 Eisenstadt 1992: x, Oxhorn 1995b: 25,
Waisman 2006: 23) Thus, the more civil society can legitimate its claims and
assure the objectiveness of its requests the stronger it is.

Density:

Once
institutional infrastructure is achieved, civil society’s density (depending on
the population) is also of paramount importance for its development (Salamon/Sokolowski
2006, Crowley/Skocpol 2001, Gamm/Putnam 1999, Burke 2001). However, the number
of CSOs is not enough to determine the engagement of the population because, in
this case, quantitative indicators will need to be correlated to qualitative
ones in order to provide a fair image of the strength of civil society.

Economic size:  

Civil
society’s economic weight is often used to measure its impact. By looking at the
share of paid employment in the non-profit sector, compared to other working
sectors (Salamon et al. 1999: 5) the weight of civil society, and thus its
strength can be measured.

Diversity:

This
element is often used to measure the variety of domains. An NGO that deals with
a variety of aspects of a certain field is more powerful than one which
operates in several areas of interests with little connection between them.
(Salamon/Sokolowski 2004b, Les et al. 2004: 69, Maloney/Rossteutscher 2007a:
53)

This
essay will look at the micro approach, more precisely, at protest free-riders
as a measure of civil engagement, and thus, of civil society strength.

Justification for case selection:

 

The
two cases proposed are Russia under Yeltsin and Russia under Putin. When
referring to Putin’s mandates the analysis will include not only his time as
serving president, but also as prime-minister. The study will follow the Most
Similar Systems Design due to various reasons.

 

First
of all, the time-span is relatively short. Most probably we are dealing with
the same generation of protesters or with their children. Thus, the protesters
will have the same, or at least similar, values and history.

 

Secondly,
the state apparatus has not changed much since the fall of the USSR and it
works under the same 1993 Constitution during Yeltsin and Putin.

Thirdly,
the geographical distribution under Putin is very similar to the one under
Yeltsin (with a few exceptions like Chechnya or Crimea) which also makes it
clearer when analysing trends in protest demands overtime, especially the shift
from material demands outside Moscow and St Petersburg around the 2000s and
post-material demands widely spread in big cities after 2007.

 

Russia
as a choice of country is also a good case when analysing civil society
strength because it disproves the canonical western expectation that post-material
demands strengthen civil society.

Thus, diving into the analysis of the
impact of protest demands on the percentage of free riders as a measure of
civil society strength, there shall be taken into account figures 1 and 2.

Robertson’s research clearly shows that
protest demands have shifted from material, under Yeltsin, to post-material, under
Putin (Roberston, 2013: 20). The ‘wild nineties’ left most Russians with “stories of
deprivation and unpaid wages” (Judah 2013: 13). Most miners, teachers and
state-workers did not receive their salaries in time, which only reinforced the
economic grievance Russia was going through. It was reflected in the protests,
which were spread all over the country (Fig. 3) showing how spread the problem
was, and in the demands of the protesters (Fig. 1). There were little protests
concerning post-material demands (civil rights, political changes, or election
contesting), which started growing throughout the 2000s.

Starting with 2007
(Fig 2) protesters started claiming civil rights, changes in policy and
environmental. The shift in demands was an effect of the better economic
situation of the country. Protests started condensing towards the big cities
(Fig. 4) as post-material demands became more and more popular.

Fig. 1 (Robertson, 2013: 18)                                    Fig. 2 (Robertson, 2013: 19)

 

Fig. 3 (Robertson, 2013: 20)                            Fig. 4 (Robertson,
2013: 20)

Having explained the
independent variable emphasising the transition from material to post-material
demands, we shall proceed to linking it to the dependent one.

Fig. 5 (Levada Centre, 2017a, 2017b)

 

Fig. 6 (Levada Centre, 2017a, 2017b)

 

 

Figure
5 and 6 are based on gathered data from surveys conducted by the Levada Centre
and graph the percentage of responses to the two questions taken into account
for this proposal. The first question was formulated as following: “In your opinion, how possible is it of
people in your city/village might hold mass demonstrations about decreased
quality of life and/or in defense of their rights?” It is summarised in the
graphs under the shorter phrasing “people expected to protest”. The second
question, “If this kind of mass protest
occurred, would you personally participate?”, is summarised in the graphs
as “people willing to protest”. The difference between the two responses is
considered to be the percentage of free-riders because there are more people
who are going to free-ride from the actions of their fellow citizens than
people who will take part in the action.

 

As
it can be observed in Fig. 5, the biggest percentage of free-riders exists in
2012 and in 2017. The possible explanation for this gap is that both the 2012
and the 2017 protests dealt with highly post-material demands. In 2012 the
demands rapidly shifted from concerning free and fair elections to more
generalised claims regarding civil liberties. The 2017 protest on Putin’s
birthday also dealt with post-material demands, more precisely asking for a
more democratic system and for civil liberties. Thus, where the demands are the
closest to being purely post-material, the percentage of free-riders increases.

 

In
Figure 6 we can see a clear increase in the percentage of free-riders after
2008, as protests also became more post-material (Fig. 2). A possible
explanation for this increasing percentage is the extent to which people
identify with the demands. Material demands weight heavier than post-material
demands, because they deal with the survival of the protester. At a micro level,
a person will be more motivated to protest to receive their salary and be able
to feed themselves, than to protest for LGBT rights. Thus, when a stringent
need (material) determines a person to protest, that person will not rely on
other work colleagues/neighbours to protest in their place and will make the
effort to reclaim its rights. However, when the basic human needs are
satisfied, a certain percentage of the people will free-ride. (fig. 6)

 

Possible weakness of the methodology
used:

 

It is good to keep
in mind that these surveys refer to expectations of the people interviewed,
thus all the percentages in the graphs express expected scores. However, these
expected scores are relevant as they could determine people to protest or not.

 

Speculative conclusion:

 

A
higher number of post-material protest demands increase the percentage of
protest free-riders, thus weakening civil society.

 

 

x

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