The Roots of the Grass: Patterns of Grassroots Urban Mobilization in Russia

The Roots of the Grass:
Patterns of Grassroots Urban Mobilization in Russia

Semenov A.V.

Cand. Sci. (Polit.), Senior Researcher, Sociological Institute of FCTAS RAS, St. Petersburg, Russia; Senior Researcher, Center for Comparative History and Politics, Perm State University, Perm, Russia

ID of the Article:

The research is supported by the Russian Science Foundation, project No. 18-78-10054.

For citation:

Semenov A.V. The Roots of the Grass: Patterns of Grassroots Urban Mobilization in Russia. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2019. No 12. P. 29-37


Based on the analysis of over 500 cases of grassroots mobilization in Russian cities in 2012–2014, the author analyzes basic characteristics of urban protests and their patterns. The data demonstrate that mobilization against construction projects is the most frequent one, followed by the protests against the demolition of the recreational areas, insufficient quality of municipal services, and degradation of transport infrastructure. Also of high visibility are protests of evicted citizens and hoodwinked house investors. Citizens experience all types of the problems related to the urban development and governances regardless of the type of the city. However, mobilization in metropolitan areas is more intensive and diversified, while protests in the smaller cities tend to be more direct in repertoire and particularistic in demands. The study shows that grassroots urban mobilization constitutes a lasting backdrop for urban governance in Russia. Urban dwellers mobilize when public authorities or business encroach upon their living environment, however, they are less able to be proactive and turn protests into sustained collective challenges like campaigns or movements. The results of the study also point to the necessity of developing effective institutions for communications between all stakeholders in the urban governance process.

grassroots mobilization; urban politics; collective action; protests


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Content No 12, 2019