Director of the Visiting Fellows Programme
Anna Korhonen
Head of International Affairs
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Eeva Korteniemi
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aleksanteri-fellows [at] helsinki.fi

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Location & Connections

 

Visiting Fellows 2017–2018

Ivan Tchalakov, University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria
“Neoliberal Roots of Post-Communist Oligarchic Societies”
(23 April – 23 May 2018)


Biography:
Ivan Tchalakov, PhD, is Professor of Sociology at University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria and a Senior Research Fellow at Center for Policy Analyses & Study of Technology, Tomsk State University, Russia and at the Institute for the Study of Societies & Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria. He is also an Editor-in-Chief of an International Journal of Actor-Network Theory and Technological Innovation.
His current research interests and projects include: 1) Science & technology policy and innovations in Eastern Europe during the communist and post-communist periods; Neo-Schumpeterian approach towards innovation and technology policy under communism: Technology policy under condition of structural change and privatization; Policy lacunas towards innovative entrepreneurship and creative industries; university-industry technology transfer, academic entrepreneurships & spin-offs; history and policy of energy system development in Bulgaria after WW II. 2) New Space Entrepreneurship - policy and techno-economic networks (TEN) approach 3) Ethnographic and historical studies of development of holography and optoelectronics.

Short description of ongoing research:
The proposed project aims at testing a research hypothesis about the symbiosis (Harman 2016) between neoliberal economic ideology and former communist nomenclature in the introduction and sweeping victory of the ‘oligarchic’ version of capitalism in these countries. Departing from the thesis on the importance of horizontal divisions inside the communist nomenclature (Tchalakov 2011, Nikula and Tchalakov 2013), the project empirically differentiates the ways in which different factions of communist nomenclature (especially the ‘political’ and ‘economic’ ones) have perceived and adopted neo-liberal ideas, and how this influenced the dismantling of  the communist ‘sacred’, and the pace and the direction of reforms in the late socialist and early transition period that resulted at imposing a new ‘sacred’ neo-liberal version of transition (Kivinen and Nikula 2006).
More specifically, the project will study how and through what ‘channels’ and media the  neo-conservative think-tanks interacted with the centres of power in these countries and especially with the ‘reformers’ inside the communist elite? How have these deliberated influences been ‘filtered’ by the predispositions and life-world evidences of the different factions (or wings) of communist nomenclature and which faction saw in it the best way to preserve its interests and strategic positions in society? To what extent have the practices of former communist state securities in sending young officers to the London School of Economics and other elite economic schools in Western universities – where the neo-liberal paradigms have already been largely imposed in the curricula – influenced events in later socialism and early transition? Was it a mere coincidence that the entire senior management of the most advanced sectors of Soviet industry – such as aerospace – actively supported the failed attempt to overthrow the Soviet leadership in 1991? Who was eventually ‘pro-capitalist’/pro-neo-liberal – political nomenclature or the industrial managers that had to care for workers’ collectives and employees, to advance technology and compete with their Western counterparts?
The methodology employed in this research is based on the theoretical tradition of the (Neo) Schumpeterian theory of innovations integrated with the path-dependencies approach, actor-network theory (especially Michel Callon’s notion of socio-technical networks) and elements of object-oriented ontology (Graham Harman).
While at the Aleksanteri Institute, I plan to discuss the theoretical framework of the analysis with colleagues, and complete the analysis of the relevant empirical data, collected in the period prior to April 2018, on economic and political transformation in former communist societies in South-Eastern Europe and Russia.

Email: tchalakov[AT]policy.hu
Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Jouko Nikula, Brendan Humphreys