The overarching theme of my current research is contentious politics and political behavior in non-democracies, with a regional focus on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. At the micro level, my work investigates why individuals become engaged in politics in repressive political regimes. At the meso level, my current research analyzes how social movements mobilize citizens against the regime. At the macro level, I examine country-level causes of social unrest. I use a multi-method approach to address these issues, including in-depth interviews with social movement participants and statistical analysis of public opinion data.
2017. Youth Movements and Elections in Eastern Europe (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics Book Series). New York: Cambridge University Press
At the turn of the twenty-first century, a tide of nonviolent youth movements swept across Eastern Europe. Young people demanded political change in repressive political regimes that emerged since the collapse of communism. The Serbian social movement Otpor (Resistance) played a vital role in bringing down Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Inspired by Otpor's example, similar challenger organizations were formed in the former Soviet republics. The youth movements, however, differed in the extent to which they could mobilize citizens against the authoritarian governments on the eve of national elections. This book argues that the movement's tactics and state countermoves explain, in no small degree, divergent social movement outcomes. Using data from semi-structured interviews with former movement participants, public opinion polls, government publications, non-governmental organization (NGO) reports, and newspaper articles, the book traces state-movement interactions in five post-communist societies: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Serbia, and Ukraine.
2015. “Youth Mobilization before and during the Orange Revolution: Learning from Losses.” In Comparative Perspectives on Civil Resistance, ed. Kurt Schock. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press (Social Movements, Protest, and Contention Series), pp. 93–120
The murder of the investigative journalist Heorhiy Gongadze triggered a protest campaign in Ukraine in 2000-2001. Yet, only a small fraction of Ukrainian students became involved in these anti-government protests, and the protest campaign waned after violent clashes with the police on 9 March 2001. In contrast, youth mobilization against the regime occurred on a much larger scale during the 2004 presidential elections. The post-election protests led to the revocation of the fraudulent election results and the unprecedented re-run of the second round of the presidential elections, resulting in the defeat of incumbent’s handpicked successor. This chapter argues that tactical interactions between civic activists and state authorities provide a partial explanation for divergent levels of youth mobilization. This research seeks to contribute to nonviolent action literature by analyzing two episodes of contention in a hybrid regime. This study also adds to existing literature by underscoring the role of youth as nonviolent activists.
2015. “Youth Movements and Elections in Belarus.” Europe-Asia Studies 67(3): 468–492
Elections present an opportunity for youth’s engagement in politics. This study examines how the youth movements Malady Front, Zubr and Belarusian Patriotic Youth Union sought to mobilize young people during the 2001 election. The paper compares movement tactics to recruit members, cultivate ties with allies, and confront opponents in a non-democratic setting. In addition, the paper analyzes how the incumbent government reacted to the rise of these youth movements. This research contributes to extant scholarship on post-communist societies by examining youth participation in politics. Moreover, this paper adds to comparative democratization literature by analyzing the use of nonviolent methods of resistance in a repressive political regime.
2015. “Marching against the Dictator: Chernobyl Path in Belarus.” Social Movement Studies 14(2): 230–236 (research note)
The protest campaign Chernobyl Path is annually held in Belarus to commemorate victims of the 1986 accident on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, raise public awareness of environmental issues, and call for democratization in the post-communist state. The size of this protest event, however, has declined since the mid 1990s. This study argues that protest tactics and state countermoves account for a low level of citizen participation in the protest event. The empirical analysis focuses on the protest campaign held in the capital city of Minsk in spring 2013. The present analysis examines tactics deployed by regime opponents and state authorities during this protest campaign. This study illustrates how civic activists in an authoritarian regime seek to put environmental issues on the public agenda.
2013. “Origins of the Movement’s Strategy: The Case of the Serbian Youth Movement Otpor.” International Political Science Review 34(2): 140–158
Using the case of Serbia’s social movement Otpor (Resistance), this
paper argues that learning is critical to the development of effective
movement strategy. This study specifies three learning mechanisms: (1)
participation in previous protest campaigns, (2) cross-national
diffusion of ideas, and (3) within-movement deliberation practices. The
empirical analysis is based upon semi-structured interviews with
former movement participants. This research seeks to contribute to
comparative democratization literature by tracing the development of
movement strategies in hybrid regimes falling somewhere between
democracy and dictatorship.
2012. “Tactical Interactions between Youth Movements and Incumbent Governments in Post-Communist States.” Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change 34: 27–61
(Special Issue on Nonviolent Conflict and Civil Resistance)
A spate of nonviolent youth movements has recently demanded
political change in the post-communist region. Though these challenger
organizations shared similar characteristics, some of them were more
successful than others in mobilizing citizens against non-democratic
regimes. This paper argues that analysis of tactical interactions
between social movements and incumbent governments provides a partial
explanation for cross-country variations in youth mobilization. The
empirical analysis focuses on youth movements in Azerbaijan, Belarus,
Georgia, Serbia, and Ukraine. The study traces how movement strategies
and state countermoves affected the level of youth mobilization. This
research contributes to social movement literature by analyzing
tactical interactions in hybrid regimes, falling somewhere between
democracy and dictatorship, and adds to civil resistance scholarship by
comparing cases of successful and failed mobilization.
2007. “The Revolt of the Post-Soviet Generation: Youth Movements in Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine.” Comparative Politics 39(2): 169–188
One of the most prominent features of the peaceful revolutions
that swept Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine was the extraordinary upsurge
of youth mobilization demanding fundamental political change.
Comparative analysis reveals striking similarities in timing, issues,
mobilization, framing processes, and action repertoires, in line with
McAdam’s distinction between initiator and spin-off movements. The
interaction between political generations and political opportunities
triggered the rise of the Serbian initiator movement Otpor and
set in motion a protest cycle. Shared concerns over increasing
authoritarian practices and similarities in political opportunities in
turn facilitated the spin-off movements in Georgia and Ukraine.
“Why Women Protest: Insights from Ukraine’s EuroMaidan.” Slavic Review (forthcoming), co-authored with Maria DeCasper, Fordham undergraduate student
This article examines why Ukrainian women participated in the 2013–2014 protest campaign, widely known as the EuroMaidan. Based upon in-depth interviews with female protesters, the study uncovers a wide range of motives for women’s engagement in protest activity, including dissatisfaction with the government, solidarity with
protesters, motherhood, civic duty, and professional service. Dissatisfaction with the government’s performance was the most cited reason for protesting. Solidarity with
protesters was another major catalyst for political engagement. In addition, women who were mothers invoked the notion of mothering to provide a rationale for activism.
The study contributes to the growing literature on women’s participation in contentious politics in non-democracies.
2015. “Do Contentious Elections Depress Turnout?” In Contentious Elections: From Ballots to Barricades, eds. Pippa Norris, Richard W. Frank, and Ferran Martinez i Coma. New York: Routledge, pp. 25–44
2008. “Life-Cycle, Generational and Period Effects on Protest Potential in Yeltsin’s Russia.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 41(2): 437–460
Using the case of the 2005 parliamentary election in Azerbaijan, this chapter demonstrates that the impact of mass perceptions of electoral integrity on the likelihood of voting depends, in part, on party identification. In particular, the empirical results indicate that supporters of opposition political parties are much more likely to report their intent to vote if they anticipate a low level of electoral malpractices. The results also show that mass perceptions have a significant, albeit smaller, impact on the likelihood of electoral participation among supporters of the ruling party and non-partisans. Overall, these findings empirically confirm the importance of incorporating a measure of perceived electoral integrity in empirical analysis of voting behavior in non-democracies. The findings presented here can be generalized to non-democracies in the post-Soviet region and beyond.
Regime change in Eastern Europe affords an excellent opportunity
for investigating linkages between age and politics in times of social
turmoil. Using data from three waves of the World Values Survey, this
paper explores life-cycle, generational, and period effects on protest
potential in Yeltsin’s Russia. The study finds that individual’s
location in the life cycle is the strongest predictor of protest
potential in the post-communist state. Furthermore, the analysis
suggests that citizens socialized during periods of relative
socioeconomic stability exhibit the highest protest potential under
conditions of uncertainty characteristic of the transition period.
2011. Citizens in the Making in Post-Soviet States. London and New York: Routledge.
BASEES/Routledge Series on Russian and East European Studies
Since the fall of the Berlin
Wall, the first generation of citizens without any firsthand
experience with communism has come of age in post-communist states. A
parallel development in the post-Soviet region is the rise of hybrid
regimes falling somewhere between democracy and dictatorship. How
supportive is the first post-Soviet generation of the new political
order? How much trust do young people place in incumbent authorities?
Which images of the Soviet Union prevail in the minds of
contemporary adolescents? How proud are high-school students to be
citizens of the new states? This book seeks to address these
questions by analyzing adolescents’ attitudes toward democracy,
authorities, and the political community in Russia and Ukraine.
2015. “Youth Media Consumption and Perceptions of Electoral Integrity in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.” Demokratizatsiya: Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization 23(3): 257–277
A large number of citizens in Central Asian societies have recently gained access to the Internet, which provides an excellent opportunity for examining political consequences of the spread of digital technology in non-democracies. This article analyzes the relationship between media consumption and public confidence in the electoral process in Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyzstan. Specifically, the study hypothesizes that exposure to web-based news negatively affects the level of public confidence in the electoral process. The data come from the sixth wave of the World Values Survey administered in the former Soviet republics in 2011. The results indicate that the online news consumption produces a significant impact on youth’s perceptions of electoral integrity in Kazakhstan, while Internet use exerts negligible effects on political attitudes of young people in Kyrgyzstan. These findings suggest that the impact of online media might be stronger in political regimes with lower levels of press freedom.
2014. “Trust in Government and Goal Pursuit in a Transition Society.” Comparative Sociology 13(5): 618–638
The development of life goals and aspirations is vital to positive youth development, and may be especially important in societies undergoing dramatic political and socioeconomic changes. Scholars have identified a wide range of factors associated with goal-directed behavior during youth, but the linkage between trust in government and goal pursuit has received scant attention in this literature. Using data from a nationally representative survey and focus group discussions with Russian youth, this study examines the impact of trust in government on goal pursuit in post-communist Russia. The analysis finds that trust in government has a significant effect on the likelihood of goal pursuit among 25-30 year old respondents, but a negligible impact on goal-oriented behavior of younger respondents. The results from the focus groups further suggest that failure avoidance, historical legacies, and limited access to resources inhibit goal pursuit in the post-communist state. The present analysis seeks to contribute to extant research by investigating youth development in a transition society.
2011. “Support for Democracy in Central Asia.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research 23(2): 191–204
Based upon data from the Life in Transition Survey, this study
examines attitudes toward democracy in Central Asia. The results
indicate that the majority of respondents in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz
Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan regard democracy as an ideal form
of government. The empirical analysis further shows that post-Soviet
citizens tend to support such specific political procedures as free and
fair elections and freedom of expression more strongly than democracy
in the abstract. The analysis also finds that preference for market
economy is the strongest determinant of support for democracy.
Furthermore, the results reveal that nominal affiliation with Islam is
positively associated with democratic support in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz
Republic, and Uzbekistan. The empirical inquiry seeks to contribute to
existing public opinion literature by investigating mass attitudes
toward democracy in a subset of repressive political regimes.
2011. “Adolescents’ Hopes for Personal, Local, and Global Future: Insights from Ukraine.” Youth and Society 43(1): 64–89
This study explores adolescents’ hopes for personal, local, and
global future in post-communist Ukraine. The research is based on a
survey of 200 sixth-graders in the cities of Donetsk and Lviv in fall
2005. The analysis identifies six domains related to personal
aspirations of adolescents: education, career, self-actualization,
personal relationships, material possessions, and physical well-being.
The findings also indicate that local concerns of respondents focus on
the quality of public services and the environment. The study further
finds that students fear most the deterioration of cross-border
interpersonal relations. In addition, the analysis suggests that
Ukrainian adolescents are more concerned about domestic politics than
their peers in mature democracies. Moreover, the findings reveal gender
and regional variations in the content of adolescents’ hopes.
2008. “Contextual Effects on Historical Memory: Soviet Nostalgia among Post-Soviet Adolescents.” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 41(2): 243–259
Using an original survey of adolescents in post-communist Russia
and Ukraine, this study analyzes attitudes toward the dissolution of
the Soviet Union. The results demonstrate how contextual factors – the
republic’s position within the former Soviet Union and prior history of
colonization – affect the level of nostalgia among the young
generation. Based upon semistructured interviews with adolescents, the
study identifies sources of positive and negative attitudes toward the
Soviet demise. Furthermore, the research reveals cross-national
differences in the relationship between Soviet nostalgia and national