Lisa Sundstrom

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
The new global politics of responsible investment (2018)

This dissertation offers new perspectives on long-standing debates about private actors in global politics. It does so via three journal-length papers on the role of institutional investors in advancing human rights compliance by multi-national firms. The thesis innovatively bridges international relations scholarship on private authority, human rights norms and transnational advocacy, with academic work on corporate governance, responsible investment and business ethics. These disparate academic themes are unified through an empirical focus on the institutions through which responsible investment activism occurs, and how these institutions respectively inform and challenge existing conceptions of shareholder power, as a form of transnational private authority. Using comparative analysis, the first paper examines how Dutch and Norwegian pension funds responded to allegations that a Chinese state-owned firm in their portfolios was complicit in human rights violations in Sudan and Burma. In this paper, I argue that state-based institutional checks on shareholder power can affect the tactical strategies employed within investor-led human rights advocacy, and in some cases, can limit the scope for ethical deliberation on these strategic choices. The second paper maps thirty-three investor-driven governance networks to show how their institutional design choices vary significantly in the degree to which they allow for meaningful engagement with civil society. This paper argues that although the mainstreaming of responsible investment has relied heavily on a narrative of values alignment with stakeholders, governance mechanisms to incorporate stakeholders within investor activism on sustainability issues remain rare. The third paper analyses 72 shareholder proposals on the topic of global human rights filed in Canada from 1982-2017. The analysis confirms that contrary to dominant viewpoints, shareholder power is not ethically neutral. Rather, its use reinforces particular social hierarchies that do not advance global human rights, despite the appearance of doing so. The dissertation’s key contribution highlights the need for institutional adaptations to enhance the democratic qualities of global investor activism in ways that move the global business and human rights agenda towards collective publics rather than individual and private solutions. This study represents the first systematic effort to theorize and empirically evaluate shareholder power in the context of global human rights.

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Elections, political participation, and authoritarian responsiveness in Russia (2016)

For decades, elections were thought of as the necessary but not sufficient condition for democracy. After the end of the Cold War, however, the world witnessed an unprecedented proliferation of regimes that combined the democratic institution of elections with authoritarian practices. Despite the presence of regular and free multi-party elections, these regimes did not liberalize or democratize. However, elections continued to matter and sporadically elections became focal points for social dissent and protest. In a series of three papers, this dissertation examines elections in Russia. The first paper presents an in-depth analysis of the 2013 Moscow mayoral election. I make the argument that in order to secure the legitimacy that elections can bestow, the authorities in this case promoted electoral competition by helping all the candidates for mayor surmount a high procedural barrier to participation. This paper contributes to scholarship on the manipulation of elections which has previously only considered measures that restrict electoral competition. Elections where authorities promote competition are still unlikely to result in opposition victories but may dampen voter participation. The second paper uses Albert Hirschman’s Exit, Voice and Loyalty framework and evidence from twenty-nine semi-structured interviews to analyze political participation in an authoritarian state through the experience of individuals running for local political office in Moscow’s municipalities. I find that citizens without substantial previous political experience, but galvanized by anti-fraud protests, ran successful political campaigns with help from civil society organizations and political parties. Counterintuitively, once in office, they adopted hyper-legal strategies to combat corruption and waste. The third and final paper uses regression analysis to test two explanatory models for electoral competition under authoritarianism: voter preferences and regime manipulation. Relying on an original dataset of protests across Russia’s regions, I find partial support for both models. Previous protest activity both increases electoral competition and provokes more pre-election manipulation of the field of candidates. In addition, voter mobilization in support of regime candidates is especially effective in generating pro-regime results. Replacing long-sitting but economically predatory governors before the election can dampen the impact of voter disapproval again boosting pro-incumbent results.

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Deliberative capacity in post-Soviet transition : effects of colour revolutions, institutional design and international discourses on inter-cultural relations in Ukraine and Georgia (2015)

This dissertation explores the issue of deliberative capacity in the context of inter-cultural relations in the democratizing post-Soviet states of Ukraine and Georgia. Specifically, it enquires about (1) the effect of deliberative capacity on inter-cultural relations, (2) the factors that affect deliberative capacity itself, and (3) the extent to which implementing deliberative democratic models is feasible in the context of post-Soviet Ukraine. It is argued that both ethnic studies and democratic transition studies significantly benefit from the application of the deliberative democracy approach. Based on the application of this approach, this work suggests three further arguments. First, deliberative capacity is the underlying feature of a multitude of ethnic mobilization theories. It suggests that instead of treating the different factors of ethnic conflict as competing, they can be looked at as each illuminating a different form or aspect of the deliberative capacity in a specific case. This dissertation suggests that such an overarching explanation simultaneously provides a more comprehensive and parsimonious story of ethnic radicalization while, usually, nuanced complexity and parsimony are at odds in theory building. Second, this study argues that a variety of factors that influence deliberative capacity affect its various components in different ways. It follows that factors of deliberative capacity are not necessarily entirely positive or negative. Instead, certain factors may create mixed effects on deliberative capacity by facilitating some of its features while jeopardizing the others. This is illustrated with the examples of such factors as colour revolutions, institutional design and the international national minority regime. Third, this dissertation draws attention to the existence of different kinds of deliberative systems that create very different contexts for politics and policies. This dissertation also explored the difficulties of applying the deliberative model in Ukraine and found that it is as difficult as it is necessary. These difficulties are nevertheless counterbalanced by a number of opportunities, and several deliberation precedents. Finally, the work formulates practical recommendations for national ethnic policy-makers, institutional designers, deliberation experiments developers, and international actors, that are expected to increase the level of deliberative capacity and thereby the level of inter-cultural peace.

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Gender mainstreaming strategies in the international development context : why practice has not made perfect. (2014)

The literature surrounding international organizations and policy cycles has overwhelmingly focused on the dynamics of why policies are adopted to the detriment of asking why they are or are not translated into implementation. This study asks first, what factors explain the differences in adoption and implementation of gender mainstreaming policies in international development organizations, and second, what these dynamics tell us about the reasons for the persistence of such policies in the face of recognized failure. Research was conducted on case studies of UN agencies in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. The findings argue that policy is better studied as a non-linear process where each stage is influenced by different mechanisms emerging from the policy context. Policy adoption depends on the overarching influence of world culture on the attitudes and behaviors of relevant senior management actors who are part of the world polity. However it is also contingent on the dynamics of bureaucratic politics, which can be either personality or policy driven, and can either block policymaking or be used as a tool to overcome differences. The dynamics of implementation on the other hand rely much more on the norms and values of middle management than research up to now has recognized. However for implementation to happen norms are a necessary but not always sufficient factor; they must be paired with organizational behavior protocols that can support implementation among those who are passive towards the relevant norm and there must be ways to sanction programme managers who oppose it. So the support of senior management may be a necessary condition for policy implementation but it is far from sufficient. This study represents a break from the typical IR approach of using one theoretical argument to explain an entire phenomenon and reasserts the importance of opening up the black box of organizations to examine actors at different levels and their interactions. Improving the success of mainstreaming policies, such as gender, HIV/AIDS or the environment ultimately depends on recognizing these mechanisms and addressing the previously underestimated role of middle management.

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Choosing Rights: The Puzzle of the Rights Frame in HIV Activism (2013)

No abstract available.

Opposition and dissent in petro-states : international oil markets and political mobilization in Russia (2013)

Using Russia as the main case study over a number of historical periods and Venezuela as a secondary case for comparison, this dissertation proposes an argument which links oil rents to political contestation in petro-regimes and suggests that this, along with the elites’ actions, is the key factor that helps to explain the regime type and the direction of the change in times of external economic shocks. When oil prices are high, petro-states have overwhelming incentives to expand social spending in order to ensure obedience and calm down potential political opponents, which appears to be an easy means of securing legitimacy. The state has more freedom to advance its policies and is less vulnerable to societal demands because it has access to external rents. However, the society is also affected: social groups demand the redistribution of oil wealth and engage in rent-seeking instead of establishing formal channels of interest representation. Consequently, the social contract that emerges is based on the shared understanding of the role of the state as a re-distributor of oil rents and guarantor of societal welfare. When oil prices drop, the state can no longer meet the expectations associated with its legitimacy, becomes more vulnerable to internal and external pressures; social forces tend to mobilize in response to cuts in social spending, and the social contract may break down. The pre-oil features of social organization and state-society relations shape the configuration of the resulting social contract and its disintegration.The main contribution of this dissertation is to create a compelling theory that convincingly explains the empirical observations with respect to one case, by identifying the mechanisms of how oil rent fluctuations translate into regime fluctuations and testing the hypotheses on the effect of external economic shocks on the state’s behavior and popular contentious claims, as well as the choices made by contenders to voice their political demands. Beyond that, I add another shadow case study for a substantially different polity, and demonstrate that the mechanisms I identified work very similarly in different sociopolitical systems, although the specific outcome depends on pre-existing sociopolitical features of the state.

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Inclusiveness and status in international organizations : cases of democratic norm development and policy implementation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations (2012)

The tension between sovereign equality and democratic status, or hierarchies based on democratic governance, is under-analyzed in scholarship of international organizations (IOs).IOs with formally inclusive compositions derive moral authority and legitimacy from their inclusiveness. Yet this inclusiveness is challenged by democratic status, with varied consequences. Scholarly explanations of democratic norm development in IOs typically creditthe favorable environment at the end of the Cold War, interests of a hegemonic power, those of established democracies, interests of new democracies to “lock in” democratic systems, or the autonomy of international institutions. Existing accounts have thus under-emphasized inclusive institutions and democratic status as important (and interacting) explanatory variables. This dissertation draws on insights from literature on institutional design, constructivism, and social psychology to examine the evolution and roles of inclusive institutions and democratic status in the development of democratic norms and policy implementation in two inclusive IOs: the United Nations (UN) and the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe/Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE/OSCE) between the respective origins of the organizations in 1945 or 1973 and 2010. While inclusive institutions sometimes lead to deadlock, under certain conditions, andcounter to conventional wisdom, they have occasionally proven highly supportive of democratic norm development. This study examines influential mechanisms, including relations between inclusive institutions and windows of opportunity, norm restatements and re-consideration of failed proposals, issue linkage, contributions of procedural legitimacy to norm expansion, inclusive institutions’ role in (re-)authorizing (or inhibiting) implementation policies, and vulnerability to shifts in political will. The dissertation draws on content analysis through process tracing of archival data and statements, counterfactual analysis, and semi-structured interviews. To assess the evolution and influence of democratic status, new indicators are developed. The study employs and adapts concepts from social identity theory and emphasizes additional factors (e.g. salience of democratic status, appeal of prototypical states, and prestige of IOs) that also affect states’ pursuit of strategies of social mobility, social competition, or social creativity, thus contributing to cooperation or discord for democratic norm development in inclusive IOs. Counter-intuitively, the institutionalization of a norm can, in fact, lead to regress.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Taking class seriously : alternatives to the 'income paradigm' (2016)

The recent surge in literature on economic inequality in the United States has provided new insights into the political ramifications of growing economic stratification. This literature has also revealed particular methodological standards by which such inequality is measured and understood. In lieu of more robust, sociological conceptions of class, political scientists largely conceive of group-based economic inequality in terms of continuous proxy variables, such as income. This paper addresses the underlying logic and motivations of this practice, sometimes referred to as the ‘income paradigm.’ The paper is divided into two sections; in the first, prevailing income-based research strategies are evaluated in terms of their generic and specific advantages and disadvantages. I argue that income is a less productive measure in describing the nature of actual inequality than is frequently assumed, and suffers from problems of causal ambiguity in the explication of satisfying and comprehensive causal explanations. In the second section, I propose three alternative conceptualizations of class developed in the sociological tradition of class analysis. These class models, derived from Weberian, Marxist and contemporary empirical traditions, are advantageous over proxy-based standards because of their a priori theoretical robustness. I argue that political scientists should transgress the disciplinary boundaries which have implicitly prohibited the use of class-based methods.

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Trauma and transitional justice in Guatemala : how conceptions of trauma inform transitional justice practices (2016)

The concept of trauma has been playing an increasing role in contemporary culture and politics, and more nuanced understandings of this concept have begun to slowly influence conversations around identity and historical memory in the transitional justice literature. This thesis explores psychobiological, historical and cultural/social forms of trauma, considering the relationship between these forms of trauma and mainstay transitional justice mechanisms. It examines the differences that emerge in how civil society and government actors in Guatemala understand the concept of trauma and the bearing this has on the transitional justice mechanisms they view as necessary to address the country’s violent past. This data was gathered via eight semi-structured interviews in Guatemala with four members of civil society and four government actors and a critical narrative analysis was used to uncover the connections between participant conceptions of trauma and views of transitional justice mechanisms implemented throughout the country. Specifically, this thesis asks how participants understand trauma and to what extent this understanding informs their views of transitional justice in Guatemala. It identifies key differences between civil society and government conceptions of trauma and the way in which these conceptions inform their approaches to transitional justice. These differences serve to highlight the importance of actively including civil society in the design and implementation of transitional justice mechanisms.

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Canada’s non-compliance with the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) : neo-liberal policy and the suppression of women’s rights in Canada (2015)

In 1981, Canada ratified the Convention of Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in what would be perceived as an attempt to create a more just and equal society for women. However, with the implementation of harsh neo-liberal policies that emphasize privatization and minimal government intervention, women in Canada, particularly those most disadvantaged, are facing human rights violations. The past decade has been especially damaging as Canada’s conservative government led by Stephen Harper made drastic funding cuts to women’s organizations and serious cutbacks to social services through austerity measures. These neo-liberal policies are not only incompatible with the CEDAW, but are in direct opposition to its mandate, and democratic values in general. I will outline the recommendations made by CEDAW to the State of Canada, and discuss the State’s blatant disregard towards the CEDAW and its principles of eliminating discrimination against women. I will describe the actions that the Canadian government, specifically the current conservative government, has taken to intentionally hinder the advancement of women’s rights. I will argue that that these violations are an attempt to suppress threats to the current politico-economic system, neo-liberalism, which, I will argue, is inherently discriminatory. I will further argue that, especially in light of its colonial past and neo-colonial present, Canada must support autonomous women’s rights movements and provide extensive social services if an effort to eliminate discrimination against women is to be made.

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Consensus and continuity : the use of ideology in Putin's Russia (2015)

The literature on Russian politics has devoted limited attention to the role of ideational factors in the development of the post-Soviet political system. The aim of this work is to bring ideology back in the discussion on the evolution of the regime under Vladimir Putin. This work argues that Putin’s regime has used ideology as a political tool to achieve two main goals: to foster consensus and to assure regime continuity beyond leadership change. Consensus was imposed around patriotism and through the figure of a super partes president. The emphasis on patriotic rhetoric allowed the Kremlin to gain control over the political spectrum and provided an ideational backing to the centralization of political power. Regime continuity was promoted by increasing the ideational capital of the presidential party – United Russia – in a threefold strategy: the formulation of “sovereign democracy,” the formalization of intra-party wings, and the adoption of “Russian conservatism” as an ideological label. This process to endow the party of power with an ideology marked a temporary decline in the regime’s personalist component and a permanent strengthening of its party element. Because ideology was formulated post-hoc to consolidate power, its coherence and persistence are subordinated to its utilitarian purpose. The result is an ideological product that sacrifices coherence for political expediency and discards certain ideological tenets when they fail to achieve their goal (sovereign democracy) or when they are no longer needed (Russian conservatism).

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Anti-Chinese attitudes in post-communist Mongolia : the lingering negative schemas of the past (2011)

This thesis examines “anti” attitudes in general and anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia in particular, to answer the puzzle: Why do anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia still persist after both nations have enjoyed friendly, neighborly state-to-state relations for more than two decades? The argument is made that anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia are persistent because of lingering impacts of artificially-consolidated negative schemas about China, Chinese people, and their culture from the 1960s-1980s. Mongolian political elites at that time institutionalized anti-Chinese attitudes, introducing only negative schemas, while blocking all other sources for positive or neutral schemas about China. Nevertheless, Mongolian political elites’ attitudes toward China became noticeably positive since mid-2000 due to increased interactions, information, and the changing economic reality despite of the fact that unfavorable views of China and the anti-Chinese attitudes have still dominated the media, blogosphere, and public discourses. The main reason for the gap between attitudes of the political elites and the public can be explained by a reluctance of the political elites and intellectuals to de-construct the past schemas because of its diacritic purpose to differentiate Mongolian identity in addition to material realities.This thesis also contends that anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia are a variant of a global anti-Chinese phenomenon. The “anti” attitudes are explained by three main reasons: a power imbalance, a backlash against economic activities, and conflicting identities. In this regard, the Mongolian case study is an excellent entry point to understand the causes and consequences of anti-Chinese attitudes in the small, developing, democratic Chinese neighbors.This thesis uses analytical approaches for a similar phenomenon, anti-Americanism, and extensively uses the notion of schema, as developed by Katzenstein and Keohane (2007) in their conceptualization of anti-Americanisms.

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Knowledge and know-how: a new model of academic freedom and dissent in non-democratic countries (2012)

For scholars of political change, the Arab Spring movements constitute a major world event with both obvious short-term consequences and more elusive long-term and diffusion effects. This thesis contributes to the literature on regime change and political dissent by modelling the conditions under which one key group of elites (academics) are most likely to take-up an anti-state platform in the wake of a key world event such as the Arab Spring. Ultimately, the herein proposed model hypothesizes the relationship between the likelihood of an academic dissent movement and three country-level indicators: (1) the level of legal protections for academics, (2) feelings of relative economic, social, and academic deprivation by university faculty, and (3) the social and scholarly prestige associated with the social sciences and humanities (SSaH) in comparison with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. In addition to a literature review and formal model construction, the thesis includes a focused discussion of a mixed-methods approach to the study of academic dissent in non-democratic countries. Bringing such methods as Cost-Benefit Analysis, qualitative interviewing, J-Curve modelling, and ex-ante hypothesizing to bear on the study of academic dissent, opens a previously understudied area of inquiry to rigorous empirical testing.

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Probing the concept of language vitality : the state of titular languages in the national republics of Russia (2010)

This essay seeks to examine vitality of ‘titular languages,’ that is, languages of ‘titular nations,’ in the national republics constituting autonomous units of the Russian Federation. An attempt to map the vitality of languages indigenous to titular nations of Russia is made in order to identify major emerging trend(s) in the use of autochthonous languages. I hypothesize that the years of Soviet rule that promoted the Russian language as the lingua franca throughout the territory of the Soviet Union could not leave the vitality of languages of titular nations unaffected. I suggest that there exists a peculiar relationship between institutions and language vitality in the national republics of the Russian Federation. Political institutions, thus, are an independent variable in this study and language vitality is the dependent variable. The relationship between the two is contingent on the intervening variable of the demographic composition of the republics. I argue that de facto Russification affects the vitality of the languages indigenous to titular nations depending on the demographic composition of the republic, while de jure recognition of the titular languages by the state and the republics’ constitutions in present-day Russia may not imply fundamental changes in their overall strength. Apart from in the field of linguistics, language vitality is a fairly new concept and has not been extensively explored in the political science literature. Therefore, I will begin by analyzing theories from different disciplines to build a definition of language vitality and how it will be ‘measured’ for the purposes of this paper. In the second section of the paper I will introduce the major trajectories of the Soviet language policy, which subsequently flow into the language policy of contemporary Russia. I will conclude the theoretical section by emphasizing the importance of language vitality for theories of ethnicity and nationalism in political science. The paper relies on the 1979, 1989, and 2002 census data and uses descriptive statistical and linear regression analysis.

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Anti-Chinese attitudes in post-communist Mongolia : the lingering negative schemas of the past (2011)

This thesis examines “anti” attitudes in general and anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia in particular, to answer the puzzle: Why do anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia still persist after both nations have enjoyed friendly, neighborly state-to-state relations for more than two decades? The argument is made that anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia are persistent because of lingering impacts of artificially-consolidated negative schemas about China, Chinese people, and their culture from the 1960s-1980s. Mongolian political elites at that time institutionalized anti-Chinese attitudes, introducing only negative schemas, while blocking all other sources for positive or neutral schemas about China. Nevertheless, Mongolian political elites’ attitudes toward China became noticeably positive since mid-2000 due to increased interactions, information, and the changing economic reality despite of the fact that unfavorable views of China and the anti-Chinese attitudes have still dominated the media, blogosphere, and public discourses. The main reason for the gap between attitudes of the political elites and the public can be explained by a reluctance of the political elites and intellectuals to de-construct the past schemas because of its diacritic purpose to differentiate Mongolian identity in addition to material realities.This thesis also contends that anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia are a variant of a global anti-Chinese phenomenon. The “anti” attitudes are explained by three main reasons: a power imbalance, a backlash against economic activities, and conflicting identities. In this regard, the Mongolian case study is an excellent entry point to understand the causes and consequences of anti-Chinese attitudes in the small, developing, democratic Chinese neighbors.This thesis uses analytical approaches for a similar phenomenon, anti-Americanism, and extensively uses the notion of schema, as developed by Katzenstein and Keohane (2007) in their conceptualization of anti-Americanisms.

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Can democracy function alongside weak civil society? The case of post-communist Europe (2010)

Post-Communist Europe poses a theoretical puzzle for students of democracy. There is a large body of political science literature that argues that civil society is not only good for democracy but critical for democratic deepening. While civil society is generally regarded as an essential feature of stable democracy, twenty years after the collapse of communism, post-communist civil society is relatively weak. This thesis examines the relationship between civil society and democracy in post-communist Europe. Using the 2008 European Values Survey I conduct regression analysis to test whether or not there is a statistical link between relative differences in the strength of civil society and indicators of democracy at both the country and the individual level. I find no statistical link between civil society and democracy at the country level and found a relatively modest link between democratic values and membership in civil society organizations at the individual level. These results suggest that the link between civil society and democracy in post-communist Europe is relatively modest. The thesis concludes by conducting a case study of Poland where I explore the relationship between civil society and democracy in a more extensive manner.

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Probing the concept of language vitality : the state of titular languages in the national republics of Russia (2010)

This essay seeks to examine vitality of ‘titular languages,’ that is, languages of ‘titular nations,’ in the national republics constituting autonomous units of the Russian Federation. An attempt to map the vitality of languages indigenous to titular nations of Russia is made in order to identify major emerging trend(s) in the use of autochthonous languages. I hypothesize that the years of Soviet rule that promoted the Russian language as the lingua franca throughout the territory of the Soviet Union could not leave the vitality of languages of titular nations unaffected. I suggest that there exists a peculiar relationship between institutions and language vitality in the national republics of the Russian Federation. Political institutions, thus, are an independent variable in this study and language vitality is the dependent variable. The relationship between the two is contingent on the intervening variable of the demographic composition of the republics. I argue that de facto Russification affects the vitality of the languages indigenous to titular nations depending on the demographic composition of the republic, while de jure recognition of the titular languages by the state and the republics’ constitutions in present-day Russia may not imply fundamental changes in their overall strength. Apart from in the field of linguistics, language vitality is a fairly new concept and has not been extensively explored in the political science literature. Therefore, I will begin by analyzing theories from different disciplines to build a definition of language vitality and how it will be ‘measured’ for the purposes of this paper. In the second section of the paper I will introduce the major trajectories of the Soviet language policy, which subsequently flow into the language policy of contemporary Russia. I will conclude the theoretical section by emphasizing the importance of language vitality for theories of ethnicity and nationalism in political science. The paper relies on the 1979, 1989, and 2002 census data and uses descriptive statistical and linear regression analysis.

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