Share this

Can Russia Modernise? Sistema, Power Networks and Informal Governance, Alena V. Ledeneva

Reviewed by Jessica Pisano



Much English‐language analysis of Russian politics reveals more about what interests commentators—rooting out corruption, developing rule of law, estab­lishing secure property rights, and other ways in which Russians might improve their society—than about how contemporary Russia actually works. This is not the case with Aleva Ledeneva’s latest book. Apart from a few gestures toward possible paths of change, this book does not suffer from a pedagogical tone: while Ledeneva has chosen “modernization” to frame her argument, she is not in the business of evaluating either how state and business elites in the Russian Federation do their jobs, or how Russian publics should respond to them. Instead, she seeks to make sense of how Russia’s network‐based governance system, known as sistema, really functions. Ledeneva takes politics, economics, and society in contemporary Russia on their own terms. The result is a book that shows how actors in a highly complex web of formal rules and informal practices manage to keep a ship of state afloat.

Ledeneva’s previous work traced late‐Soviet horizontal exchange networks and identified and explicated informal practices that were central to Russian political development in the post‐Soviet period. In this latest work, she turns h

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

Editor’s spotlight

North Korea and the West

The Debate over North Korea


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

New APS Book

Continuing Issues in U.S. National Security Policy   CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS