Between the State and the Nation: Dilemmas of Identity Policy in Post-Soviet Societies

Between the State and the Nation: Dilemmas of Identity Policy in Post-Soviet Societies

Semenenko I.S.,

Dr. Sci. (Pol. Sci.), Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Head of Centre for Comparative Socioeconomic and Political Studies, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Russian Academy of Sciences,

elibrary_id: 251670 | ORCID: 0000-0003-2529-9283 |

Lapkin V.V.,

Cand. Sci. (Chem.), Leading Researcher, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, First Deputy Editor‑in‑Chief, Polis. Political Studies. Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 43429 | ORCID: 0000-0002-0775-2630 | RESEARCHER_ID: AAB-9386-2021

Bardin A.L.,

Reserarcher, Center for Comparative Socio-Economic and Political Studies, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO). Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 684500 |

Pantin V.I.,

Dr. Sci. (Philos.), Head of Department, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Russian Academy of Sciences; Principal Researcher, Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 74145 | ORCID: |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2017.05.05

For citation:

Semenenko I.S., Lapkin V.V., Bardin A.L., Pantin V.I. Between the State and the Nation: Dilemmas of Identity Policy in Post-Soviet Societies. – Polis. Political Studies. 2017. No. 5. P. 54-78. (In Russ.).


Two closely related but essentially divergent political projects coexist on the post-Soviet states current political agenda: the formation of a modern civic nation and the consolidation of state institutions and national (nation-state) identity. The search for effective instruments to bridge the deep social and ethno-cultural cleavages their societies confront while promoting these projects brings identity issues to the forefront of political discourse. The article presents the results of a comparative analysis of identity politics strategies and practices pursued by political elites in three post-Soviet republics – Kazakhstan, Armenia and Belarus – cases that demonstrate a diversity of ethnic and cultural composition and of social and economic development resources. The research is based on in-depth interviews taken in research and expert institutions in these countries and is preceded by a critical overview of the concepts of the nation and nation-building in the post-Soviet context. The authors argue that there is a consistent divergence in the trajectories of the state and nation-building projects, and demonstrate that the potential of civic identity is often used to different ends in political and intellectual discourses. The political elites give a clear priority to the state-building agenda, while identity politics promoted by the state focus on the legitimization of the existing political regimes. An assessment of the prospects in post-Soviet societies for nation-building questions the universal appraisal of the “nation state” project in a transforming world order. 

nation; nation-state; nation-building; nationalism; national identity; civic identity; identity politics; identity discourse; statehood; post-Soviet space; Kazakhstan; Armenia; Belarus.


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Content No. 5, 2017

See also:

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