Book Talk. Property Rights in Post-Soviet Russia: Violence, Corruption, and the Demand for Law by Jordan Gans-Morse

Thursday, February 8, 2018
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 International Affairs Building)

Please join us for a talk with Jordan Gans-Morse about his book Property Rights in Post-Soviet Russia: Violence, Corruption, and the Demand for Law (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

The effectiveness of property rights—and the rule of law more broadlyis often depicted as depending primarily on rulers’ “supply” of legal institutions. Yet the crucial importance of private sector “demand” for law is frequently overlooked. Property Rights in Post-Soviet Russia develops a novel framework that unpacks the demand for law in Russia, building on an original enterprise survey as well as extensive interviews with lawyers, firms, and private security agencies. By tracing the evolution of firms’ reliance on violence, corruption, and 
law over the two decades following the Soviet Union’s collapse, the book clarifies why firms in various contexts may turn to law for property rights protection, even if legal institutions remain ineffective or corrupt. Gans-Morse’s detailed demand-side analysis of property rights draws attention to the extensive role that law plays in the Russian business world, contrary to frequent depictions of Russia as lawless.

Jordan Gans-Morse is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University. His ongoing research focuses on corruption, the rule of law, property rights, and political and economic transitions. Although his primary regional expertise is the former Soviet Union, he has also conducted research on Central-Eastern Europe and Latin America. His publications have recently appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Post-Soviet Affairs, Problems of Post-Communism, and Studies in International Comparative Development. Gans-Morse is at work on a new book manuscript, tentatively titled To Steal or to Serve? Motivations for Public Service in Corrupt States. Drawing on evidence from Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia, the study examines the roots of systemic corruption and investigates strategies for curtailing the predatory states that plague citizens throughout much of the world.