Social mobilisations, politics and society in contemporary Kyrgyzstan
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
My work contains politically sensitive material. In addition, I would like to publish papers from my thesis/dissertation.
This dissertation is about social mobilizations in rural Kyrgyzstan from 2010-2015. Following a constructivist approach, I aim to answer a puzzling question in regard to multiple but rarely sustainable protests in this global periphery: Under what conditions can provisional episodes of mobilization be transformed into sustained mobilization? In particularly, I consider Eric Hirsch’s insight that the commitment of participants of mobilization to the cause is formed within collective instances, i.e. ‘group processes’, and I employ it in the Kyrgyzstani context of generalized distrust and discredited corrupt politics. I explore the conditions in which participants of episodes of mobilization create trust in organizers and into the cause of mobilization. I investigate these conditions in two case studies: one concerns a fragmented labour force at a state-owned gas and oil company in which, in the course of four years, workers succeeded to empower themselves as a collective actor within the group processes of collective learning and collective decision-making. The second tells a story about a fragmented rural community that goes against mining operations but sees the decline of an initially successful mobilization within group processes of monitoring. These findings point to the presence of a specific ‘pre-condition’ for any lasting mobilization: trust between organizers and participants of episodes of mobilization must be established in the process of monitoring the commitment to collective interests. With this insight I contribute to the literature on social movements and mobilizations that tends to take commitment and trust as pre-established resources. Furthermore, this work intervenes in the ongoing discussion on social change in the former Soviet Union. First, my observations of the difficult formation of protest groups lead, surprisingly, to the conclusion that the weak state produces a weak society. Second, due to the fragmented and localized nature of these mobilizations, social and political change in Kyrgyzstan is most likely to occur at the local level.
University of Central Asia University of Exeter
PhD in Politics