Advertisement

Grassroots Urban Protests in St. Petersburg: (Non-)Participation in Decision-Making About the Futures of City Territories

  • Elena Tykanova
  • Anisya KhokhlovaEmail author
Article
  • 43 Downloads

Abstract

This paper considers local activists’ efforts to initiate public discussions about contested territories in St. Petersburg, and to resist political decisions about their (re)development. It also questions to what degree such grassroots efforts become political and analyzes different contexts of, and barriers to, politicization. By complementing sociological theorization about civic engagement and civic participation with French pragmatism, we examine how these activists constantly shift between informal, context-specific forms of protest and more institutionalized and politicized ones. Using a case study approach, we describe and compare two recent conflicts in St. Petersburg where local residents resisted (re)development projects imposed by political and economic elites: the defense of the Yurgens House in the historic city center against its expected demolition, and the protest against renovation in Alexandrino, a park area on the city’s periphery. Our analysis is based on semi-structured interviews with local activists, participant and non-participant observation at public rallies and other gatherings, and qualitative analysis of protesters’ communication practices on social networks. We demonstrate that external political and social constraints encourage activists to be flexible in their forms of engagement, deploying a wide repertoire of tools of contestation: using local knowledge tactically, operating rationally within legal frameworks, and addressing broad audiences in search of public justification and support. We conclude that, whether these local activists remain at the level of informal place-based initiatives or opt for more institutionalized and professionalized forms of civic participation, they insistently reject claims that their efforts have a political rationale.

Keywords

Urban protest Grassroots Urban space contestation Politicization Civic engagement/participation Regimes of engagement 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors express their deep gratitude to Karine Clément, Anna Zhelnina, Laurent Thévenot, Nina Eliasoph, Kerstin Jacobsson, Elena Zdravomyslova, Svetlana Yerpyleva, Natalya Savelyeva, and three anonymous reviewers for their thorough reading of this manuscript and their numerous insightful comments and recommendations.

Funding

This paper benefited from the support of the Russian Science Foundation (research grant RSF No. 18-78-10054 “Mechanisms of interests coordination in the processes of urban development,” 2018–2021).

References

  1. Adler, R. P., & Goggin, J. (2005). What do we mean by “civic engagement”? Journal of Transformative Education, 3(3), 236–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Badyina, A., & Golubchikov, O. (2005). Gentrification in central Moscow – A market process or a deliberate policy? Money, power and people in housing regeneration in Ostozhenka. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 87(2), 113–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Belokurova, E., & Vorobyev, D. (2010). Общественное участие на локальном уровне в современной России. Неприкосновенный запас. Дебаты о политике и культуре. Public participation at the local level in contemporary Russia. Emergency Stock Debates on Politics and Culture 2(70), 83–91.Google Scholar
  4. Burton, P., Croft, J., & Goodlad, R. (2005). Effectiveness at what? The processes and impact of community involvement in area-based initiatives. Environment and Planning. C, Government & Policy, 23, 923–938.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clément, K. (2015a). From “local” to “political”: The Kaliningrad mass protest movement of 2009–2010 in Russia. In K. Jacobsson (Ed.), Urban grassroots movements in Central and Eastern Europe (pp. 163–193). Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  6. Clément, K. (2015b). Unlikely mobilisations: How ordinary Russian people become involved in collective action. European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, 2(3–4), 211–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clément, K., Miryasova, O., & Demidov, A. (2010). От обывателей к активистам [From philistines to activists]. Moscow: Tri kvadrata.Google Scholar
  8. Docherty, I., Goodlad, R., & Paddison, R. (2001). Civic culture, community and citizen participation in contrasting neighbourhoods. Urban Studies, 38(12), 2225–2250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ekman, J., & Amna, E. (2012). Political participation and civic engagement: Towards a new typology. Human Affairs, 22, 283–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eliasoph, N. (1997). Close to home: The work of avoiding politics. Theory and Society, 26, 605–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Evans, A. B., Jr. (2012a). Introduction: Civil society in contemporary Russia. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 45, 217–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Evans, A. B., Jr. (2012b). Protests and civil society in Russia: The struggle for the Khimki Forest. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 45, 233–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ежегодное послание Губернатора Санкт-Петербурга Законодательному Собранию Санкт-Петербурга от 23.04.2008. Annual state-of-the-city address of the Governor of St. Petersburg to the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg, from 23.04.2008.Google Scholar
  14. Федеральный закон № 131-ФЗ «Об общих принципах организации местного самоуправления в Российской Федерации» от 06.10.2003. Federal Law 131 “On the general principles of the organization of local government in the Russian Federation” from 06.10.2003.Google Scholar
  15. Федеральный закон «О собраниях, митингах, демонстрациях, шествиях и пикетированиях» № 54-ФЗ от 19.06.2004. Federal law No 54 “On meetings, rallies, demonstrations and picketing” from 19.06.2004.Google Scholar
  16. Федеральный закон № 59-ФЗ «О порядке рассмотрения обращений граждан Российской Федерации» от 02.05.2006. Federal Law No 59 “On the order of precedence of the addressed from the citizens of the Russian Federation” from 02.05.2006.Google Scholar
  17. Федеральный закон № 212-ФЗ «Об основах общественного контроля в Российской Федерации» от 21.07.2014. Federal Law No 212 “On the foundations of public control in the Russian Federation” from 21.07.2014.Google Scholar
  18. Fernie, K., & McCarthy, J. (2001). Partnership and community involvement: Institutional morphing in Dundee. Local Economy, 16(4), 299–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gladarev, B. (2011). Историко-культурное наследие Петербурга: рождение общественности из духа города. От общественного к публичному [Historical and cultural heritage of St. Petersburg: The birth of the public from the city spirit]. In O. Kharkhordin (Ed.), From the communal to the public (pp. 71–304). St. Petersburg: European University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Gladarev, B. (2012). Градозащитные движения Петербурга накануне «Зимней революции» 2011–2012 гг.: анализ и перспективы французской прагматической социологии. Мониторинг общественного мнения. City-protecting movements of St. Petersburg on the eve of the ‘Winter revolution’ of 2011–2012: Analysis and prospects of French pragmatic sociology. Monitoring of Public Opinion 4(110), 29–43.Google Scholar
  22. Госдума увеличила штраф за нарушения на митингах (2012). Информационный портал “LENTA.RU” [State Duma has increased penalty for infringements at mass rallies. Information portal “LENTA.RU”]. Retrieved from: https://lenta.ru/news/2012/06/05/popravki/
  23. Gortmakher, E., & Shatalova, E. (2008). Общественные объединения нового типа: анализ и перспективы дальнейшего развития, [Public associations of a new type: Analysis and prospects of further development]. SPERO, 9, 141–164.Google Scholar
  24. Градостроительный кодекс Российской Федерации» № 190-ФЗ от 29.12.2004. Urban Planning Code of the Russian Federation No 190 from 29.12.2004.Google Scholar
  25. Gromov, D. (2012). «Мы не оппозиция, а народ»: новые черты уличного политического акционизма. Антропологический форум “We are no opposition – we are the people”: New features of outdoor political actionism. Forum for Anthropology and Culture 16, 31–49.Google Scholar
  26. Gromov, D.V. (2013). Зимнее противостояние 2011/2012 гг.: две тактики мобилизации и самопрезентации. Этнографическое обозрение. Winter Collision 2011/2012: Two tactics of mobilization and self-presentation. Ethnographic Review 2, 109–125.Google Scholar
  27. Hackworth, J. (2002). Postrecession gentrification in New York City. Urban Affairs Review, 37(6), 815–843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harvey, D. (2008). The right to the city. New Left Review, 2(53), 23–40.Google Scholar
  29. Hermansson, H. (2007). The ethics of NIMBY conflicts. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 10(1), 23–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. ICOMOS at St. Petersburg (2013). Оценка воздействия на наследие: потенциальное воздействие «Лахта центра» на выдающуюся универсальную ценность объекта Всемирного наследия «Исторический центр Санкт-Петербурга и связанные с ним комплексы памятников» Evaluation of impacts on heritage: Potential impacts of the Lakhta Center upon the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage site ‘Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments’. St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg Regional Committee of ICOMOS. Retrieved from: https://icomos-spb.ru/component/joomdoc/Lahta Center Assessment_rus.pdf download.
  31. Kopf, S. (2017). Ambivalences within – Anti-politics and the power of the marginal in Belgrade’s Activism of the City. Doctoral Thesis. Vienna: University of Vienna.Google Scholar
  32. Kovin, V. S. (2014). Гражданский вызов Перми: «гражданская столица» vs. «политическое болото». Стилистические особенности пермской городской идентичности. The civic challenge from Perm: “the civic capital” vs. “the political bog”. In O. V. Ignatyeva & O. V. Lysenko (Eds.), Stylistic features of Perm city identity (pp. 195–235). St. Petersburg: Mamatov Publishing.Google Scholar
  33. Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  34. Likhachev, D. (1989). «Небесная линия» города на Неве. Наше наследие. The skyline of the city on the Neva. Our heritage 1, 8–13.Google Scholar
  35. Lobanova, O. (2015). От обывателей к активистам... и обратно. Обзор протестных исследований в России 1991-2015 годов. Неприкосновенный запас. Дебаты о политике и культуре. From philistines to activists … and back. An overview of protest movements in Russia, 1991 Žuravlev −2015. Emergency Stock. Debates on Politics and Culture. 5(103), 24–36.Google Scholar
  36. Magun, A. (2014). Протестное движение 2011–2012 годов в России: Новый популизм среднего класса [Protest movement of 2011–2012 in Russia: New populism of the middle class]. Stasis, 2(1), 192–226.Google Scholar
  37. Mayer, M. (2013). First world urban activism. City, 17(1), 5–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Medvedev, I.R. (2016). Проблемы оспаривания публичных слушаний (на примере Москвы). Арбитражный и гражданский процесс. The challenges of public hearings contestation (as exemplified by Moscow). Arbitral and civil proceedings, 1, 57–64.Google Scholar
  39. Moskaleva, S. & Tykanova, E. (2016) Социальные условия деятельности гражданских и экспертных групп по улучшению качества городской среды. Журнал социологии и социальной антропологии. The social conditions of the performance of citizen and expert groups aimed at the improvement of the urban environment. Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology 4, 103–120.Google Scholar
  40. Отчет о результатах деятельности Правительства Санкт-Петербурга и Губернатора Санкт-Петербурга за 2011 г. от 15.05.2012. Report on the outcomes of the performance of the Government of St. Petersburg and the Governor of St. Petersburg in 2011 from 15.05.2012.Google Scholar
  41. Rancière, J. (2011). The thinking of dissensus: Politics and aesthetics. In P. Bowman & R. Stamp (Eds.), Reading Rancière (pp. 1–17). New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  42. Reddel, T. & Woolcock, G. (2003). A critical review of citizen engagement strategies in Queensland. Paper presented at the National Institute for Governance conference Facing the Future: Engaging Stakeholders and Citizens in Developing Public Policy (pp. 127–146). Canberra, Australia: National Institute for Governance, University of Canberra.Google Scholar
  43. Semenov, А.V. (2016). От экономического кризиса к политическому? Динамика протестных требований в Российских регионах (2008-2012 гг.). Журнал исследований социальной политики. From the economic crisis to the political crisis? Dynamics of protest requirements in Russian regions (2008-2012). Journal of Social Policy Studies 14(2), 151–166.Google Scholar
  44. Shatalova, A. & Tykanova, E. (2018) Неформальные практики участников публичных слушаний (случай Санкт-Петербурга). Журнал социологии и социальной антропологии. Informal practices of the participants of public hearings (the case of St. Petersburg. Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology 4, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  45. Shkel', S.N. & Sabitov, M.R. (2012). Массовый политический протест в современной России: динамика и специфика развития. Право и политика. Mass political protest in contemporary Russia: Dynamics and specific features of development. Law and Politics 10, 1675–1669.Google Scholar
  46. Tev, D. (2006). Политэкономический подход в анализе местной власти. К вопросу о коалиции, правящей в Санкт-Петербурге. Политическая экспертиза [Political economy approach in the analysis of local authorities. St Petersburg ruling coalition revisited. Political Expertise 2(2), 99–121.Google Scholar
  47. Thévenot, L. (2001). Pragmatic regimes covering the engagement with the world. In K. Knorr-Cetina, T. Schatzki, & E. Savigny (Eds.), The practice turn in contemporary theory (pp. 56–73). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. Tykanova, E. (2013). Влияние городских политических режимов на ход оспаривания городского пространства (на примере Санкт-Петербурга и Парижа). Журнал социологии и социальной антропологии. The influence of urban political regimes on the processes of urban space contestation (cases of St. Petersburg and Paris). Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology 3, 112–123.Google Scholar
  49. Tykanova, E., & Khokhlova, A. (2013). Local communities in St. Petersburg: Politicisation of claims to contested urban spaces. Articulo – Journal of urban research, 4 (Special Issue). Retrieved from: http://articulo.revues.org/2320
  50. Tykanova, E. & Khokhlova, A. (2014a). Траектории самоорганизации локальных сообществ в ситуациях оспаривания городского пространства. Социология власти [Trajectories of local communities’ self-organization in the situations of urban space contestation. Sociology of Power 2, 104–122.Google Scholar
  51. Tykanova, E. & Khokhlova, A. (2014b) Конфликт прав собственности в постсоветском городе (на примере случая сноса гаражей в Санкт-Петербурге). Журнал социологии и социальной антропологии. Conflict of property rights in a post-soviet city (by the example of demolition of garage stalls in St. Petersburg). Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology 5, 109–126.Google Scholar
  52. Tykanova, E. & Khokhlova, A. (2015a). Городской политический режим в Санкт-Петербурге: роль реальных и воображаемых «машин роста» в борьбе за городское пространство. Журнал исследований социальной политики. Urban political regime in St. Petersburg: The role of real and imagined “growth machines” in the struggle for urban space. Journal of Social Policy Studies 2, 241–256.Google Scholar
  53. Tykanova, E., & Khokhlova, A. (2015b). The performative logic of urban space contestation: Two examples of local community mobilisation in St. Petersburg. In K. Jacobsson (Ed.), Urban grassroots movements in Central and Eastern Europe (pp. 139–162). Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  54. Tykanova, E. & Khokhlova, A. (2017) Между политическим и аполитичным: формы участия локальных сообществ в защите городских территорий. Современный город: власть, управление, экономика. Between the political and the apolitical: forms of participation of local communities in the defense of urban territories. Contemporary city: power, governance, economics. (pp. 226–245) VII. Perm: PNRPU Publishing.Google Scholar
  55. Vasiliev, S.G. (2016). Группа спасения. Как это начиналось. Градозащитная деятельность: участники и источники: материалы 9-й научно-практической конференции по информационным ресурсам петербурговедения, 15 марта 2016 г. The rescue mission. The origins. City-protecting activities: participants and sources. Proceedings of 9th research and training conference on the information assets of Petersburg studies (pp. 77–95). St. Petersburg: Vladimir Mayakovsky Central City Public Library.Google Scholar
  56. Zald, M., & Ash, R. (1966). Social movement organizations: Growth, decay and change. Social Forces, 44, 327–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Yerpyleva, S. (2017). «На митинги я не ходил, меня родители не отпускали»: взросление, зависимость и самостоятельность в деполитизированном контексте. “I did not go to meetings: my parents would not let me”: Adulting, dependence and independence in a de-politicized context. Retrieved from: http://syg.ma/@ps-lab/na-mitingi-ia-nie-khodil-mienia-roditieli-nie-otpuskali-mnoghotochiie.
  58. Yin, R. (2002). Case study research: Design and methods. London, thousand oaks, New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  59. Yurchak, A. (2008). Necro-utopia. The politics of indistinction and the aesthetics of the non-soviet. Current Anthropology, 49(2), 199–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zhelnina, А. (2013). Свобода от политики: «обычная» молодежь на фоне протестов. Социология власти. Freedom from politics: “Ordinary” youth in the background of protest. Sociology of Power 4, 139–149.Google Scholar
  61. Zhuravlev, O. (2015). Инерция постсоветской деполитизации и политизация 2011–2012 годов. Политика аполитичных: гражданские движения в России 2011–2013 годов [The inertia of post-soviet depoliticization and the politicization of 2011–2012. In S. Yerpyleva, A. Magun (Eds.) The politics of the apolitical: Civic movements in Russia, 2011–2013] (pp. 27–71). Moscow: New Literary Observer, 2015.Google Scholar
  62. Zhuravlev, O., Savel'yeva, N., & Yerpyleva, S. (2014). Индивидуализм и солидарность в новых российских гражданских движениях. Журнал исследований социальной политики. Individualism and solidarity in new Russian civic movements. Journal of Social Policy Studies 12(2), 185–200.Google Scholar
  63. Žuravlev, O. (2017). Vad blev kvar av Bolornajatorget? En ny start för den lokala aktivismen i Ryssland, Arkiv. Tidskrift för samhällsanalys, 7, 129–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sociological Institute of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of SciencesSt. PetersburgRussia
  2. 2.Department of Sociology of Culture and Communication, Faculty of SociologySt. Petersburg State UniversitySt. PetersburgRussia

Personalised recommendations