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Resolving Problems among Neighbors in Post-Soviet Russia: Uncovering the Norms of the Pod”ezd

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Abstract:

The article presents findings from a qualitative study of how Russians deal with neighbors who have leaked water onto them. In the Russian context, this is neither an uncommon nor a small problem. Building on US-based studies of neighborhood relations, the article lays out three alternative strategies: avoidance, self-help, and third-party intervention. The Russian participants lived in close proximity to one another and had little opportunity for exit. The study documents a strong preference for self-help, confirming the potency of the relational distance hypothesis for Russia. In contrast to their US counterparts, the Russian participants' lack of exit did not give rise to more intense and prolonged disputes. The findings suggest that there is a strong informal norm in favor of neighbors resolving disputes among themselves and that the residents who share common entryways (pod”ezdy) work out the parameters of acceptable behavior over time. These informal norms shape Russians' legal consciousness.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-4469.2011.01236.x

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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