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Irene Steiger

PhD thesis project: Corruption and Patronage in the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev Era


Personal information

Steiger.jpgBorn 1979 in Alma-Ata (Kazakhstan)


                  • 2001 general qualification for university entrance (Abitur)
                  • 2001-2003 Studies of chemistry at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg i. Br. (Germany)
                  • 2003/2009 Studies of East European history and Slavic philology at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg i. Br.
                  • 07/2009 Graduation as Magistra Artium
                            Master Thesis on Soviet children and juveniles as victims of Stalinist repressions
                  • since 12/2009 PhD-Student of the DFG-Graduiertenkolleg 1288 Friends, Patrons, Clients at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg i. Br.


Work experience and internships

  • 2004-2005 Assistant, law office Mayer & Mayer in Freiburg i. Br.
  • 2005 Foreign language assistant internship in Tomsk (Russian Federation)
  • 2006-2009 student research assistant, Department or Slavic philology at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg i. Br.


PhD Thesis Project

Corruption and Patronage in the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev Era
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Dietmar Neutatz

Within the framework of my dissertation project I will predominantly focus on the analysis of the official, economic and social discourses about the phenomena of corruption and patronage in the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev Era. Moreover, the social perception and the depiction of the researched public consequences regarding the Soviet government and to a fewer extent also regarding Soviet scholarly works will be contrasted with the social practice in the country.

Next, a systematic and detailed overview of the major aspects of corruption and patronage in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics will be given. Beside the judicial background and the causes of those phenomena it also needs to be revealed how these aspects influenced the political, administrative, economic and social life in the country.

In the context of the official depiction of corruption and patronage it will on the one hand be researched which cases were made public and which ones were not, and on the other hand which types of transmission (informative transmission, reports creating a scandal, propaganda, etc.) existed. All in all, it can be said that the exposure of corruption scandals did not have the aim of fighting criminal affairs, but was done for political and ideological reasons. This thesis is to be verified within the project.

The analysis of the social discourse should reveal information of whether the people’s perception differed from the one of the head of government. Therefore, it first needs to be discussed if and how corruption and patronage were perceived by the Soviet people. In this context the question of how people internalized these phenomena in their moral thought as they were inevitable in Soviet everyday life needs to be posed. Furthermore, the ways of explaining the causes of corruption and patronage and the ways to abolish these phenomena will be analysed.

Finally, the following concluding and evaluating questions will be discussed: Were corruption and patronage perceived as a problem by the Soviet society and government? Or was it thought of as a normal and given condition? Which forms of corruption and patronage were seen as legitimate and which were not? In how far do perceptions overlap or differ from each other? Especially with regard to corresponding approaches and solution statements the reasons for the collapse will be analysed in detail.


  • Postadresse:

    Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
    DFG-Graduiertenkolleg 1288
    c/o Historisches Seminar
    Rempartstr. 15 - KG IV
    79085 Freiburg 
  • Besuchsadresse:

    Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
    DFG-Graduiertenkolleg 1288
    Erbprinzenstraße 13
    79098 Freiburg
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