Trials and Tribulations of Learning the Market: Culture and Economic Practice in Russia’s Market Transition

Jeffrey K. Hass


Russia’s post-Soviet market transition has involved chaos, confl ict, and confusion in all aspects of economic life. Few analyses attempt to include an examination of culture and its role in the construction of post socialist economic practices, procedures, and institutions. Drawing on insights from economic sociology, I argue that culture—path-dependent practices, categories, and assumptions of normality—shaped reactions and responses to changes in legislation and structure. Further, adaptation and change in these practices, categories, and assumptions were inhibited by decoupling (the difference between change in laws or rules and in real practice). Decoupling had two roots incomplete learning because of the persistence of older habits and practices; and resistance to the imposition of new practices. I explore economic culture and these forms of decoupling and cultural change by examining change in two logics of business: logics of production and sales (incomplete learning), and logics of value (resistance).

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