Russian higher education under sanctions:
a constructivist perspective
MGIMO University. Moscow, Russia, firstname.lastname@example.org
elibrary_id: 1090824 |
MGIMO University. Moscow, Russia, email@example.com
elibrary_id: 621264 |
Centre for Euro-Asian Studies, Henley Business School, Reading, UK, firstname.lastname@example.org
Article received: 2022.04.15 18:14. Accepted: 2022.05.17 18:14
Constructivists have convincingly shown through norm theory and multiple case studies that ideas can be more influential than material conditions in determining political and social outcomes. This paper analyses the capacity of norms to resist shock events that bring about a radical change in material conditions and demonstrates that significant disruptions in the context of norm implementation can lead to normative U-turns. The authors theorise norm backtracking based on the case of the Russian higher education sector, revealing how the 2022 armed-conflict in Ukraine and Western sanctions have affected the implementation of the norm of world-class universities in Russia. The findings of the qualitative case study based on 24 expert interviews suggest that although internalised norms can survive shifts in material conditions, the need to readapt them to an evolving context and to new political goals results in their distortion. The international norm on world-class universities, implemented in Russia through Project 5-100 and the Priorities 2030 initiative, is facing exceptional challenges which have led so far not to the rejection of the norm but to its remodelling to meet new objectives. The impact of Russia’s normative “redesign” in the sphere of higher education also ushers in a new stage in the life of the international norm on world-class universities marked by a rejection of the Western-centric model.
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