The Transformation of State-Society Relations in Post-Soviet Central Asia
February 16, 2005
Based on a preliminary analysis of mass survey data from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, this paper argues that citizens of these countries have become disengaged from their states. States are no longer involved in citizens' lives and people interact little with their officials. Also most citizens now compete for state resources instead of regularly receiving them. In the Soviet era a main characteristic of the state was that it was a source of benefits, such as medical services and education. In the post-Soviet era a key attribute of the state is that it is an arena where citizens vie to obtain resources, like jobs. Because post-Soviet states continue to control a preponderance of resources relative to non-state entities, societal actors, including Islamic leaders and elders, have not taken over the state's role. Citizens turn to government officials, before societal actors, for assistance with everyday problems.