Theoretical and Methodological Aspects of Political Elites’ Institutionalization in the Baltic States

Theoretical and Methodological Aspects of Political Elites’ Institutionalization in the Baltic States

Smirnov V.A.,

Cand. Sci. (Pol. Sci.), Senior Researcher, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University,

elibrary_id: 633719 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2017.05.06

For citation:

Smirnov V.A. Theoretical and Methodological Aspects of Political Elites’ Institutionalization in the Baltic States. – Polis. Political Studies. 2017. No. 5. P. 79-90. (In Russ.).


The article deals with theoretical and methodological aspects of elite study in the Baltic states on the basis of small states and regional studies. The special features of genesis and development of power groups in the region are deduced. The problem of theoretical correspondence between structural and subject aspects of study of political elite is considered. Emphasis is put upon the problem of juncture between domestic and foreign policy factors influencing political elite decisions. One of the starting points is theory of small states through the lens of which the main features of power groups development in the Baltic region are investigated. Small size of a state produces high dependency of political elites is Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on foreign factors or, using terminology of Joseph Colomer, contemporary ”empires” which structure transnational space. Special attention is paid to the historical factors in the genesis of political elite after the Baltic states left the Soviet Union. The article problematizes transitology paradigm, which is prevalent in the studies of this period in the Baltic states and in Eastern Europe as a whole. Besides the imperatives of regime change and transformation towards democratic ideals it is important to consider the imperatives of competition between power groups for resources in domestic and foreign political environment. Few contradictions are emphasized, i.e. the liquidation of OSCE missions in Latvia and Estonia, development of institutions of memory politics, criminalization of the denial of “Soviet occupation”. These are the instances of political elite decision on different stages of political regimes genesis in the Baltic states which are not fit into the logics of theory of democratization. On the basis of these theoretical assumptions various methods of elite studies are considered. The article proposes a theoretical framework of institutional regionalism which is presumed as more efficient as means of power groups studies in the Baltic states. 

political elite; power groups; political institution; institutionalization; structure; Baltic states.


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Content No. 5, 2017

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