Many Russian civil society organisations are directly engaging with state law enforcement agencies, particularly the police, in joint efforts to improve the performance and change the norms and values of state officials involved in administering justice. These activities are based upon a model of state-society relations that stresses the possibility of a positive relationship of mutual assistance and partnership between the state and civil society. Such assistance is often described by these organisations as helping low-level bureaucrats better perform their core organisational tasks. This model is contrasted with two alternative models of the role of civil society, which depict civil society either as teaching citizens the norms and values associated with liberal democracy, or as a potential counter-weight to an over-reaching state. Three cases studies of cooperation between NGOs and law enforcement agencies demonstrate the utility of such an approach. Although these projects suffer from some common pathologies of civil society work in Russia, they remain important, not least because of the presence of 'uncivil society' extremist groups who also are trying to influence the norms and beliefs of state law enforcement officials. The civil society activities profiled here suggest that direct, cooperative engagement with the state is one important component of long-term efforts to transform the Russian state in a more liberal, 'civil' direction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics and Econometrics