Institute of Sociology
of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Chirikova A., Ledyaev V. (2021) Leadership and Power in a Small Russian Town. Mir Rossii, vol. 30, no 1, pp. 2948 (in Russian). DOI: 10.17323 ...

Chirikova A., Ledyaev V. (2021) Leadership and Power in a Small Russian Town. Mir Rossii, vol. 30, no 1, pp. 2948 (in Russian). DOI: 10.17323/1811-038X-2021-30-1-29-48
ISSN 1811-038X (Print), ISSN 1811-0398 (Online)
DOI 10.17323/1811-038X-2021-30-1-29-48

Posted on site: 19.04.21

URL: ( 19.04.2021)


This article presents the findings from an empirical study of leadership and power in three small towns in Perm Krai and Ivanovo Region, conducted in 20112015 and 20182019. The study shows that despite the centralization policy pursued by the federal center and the structured power vertical, there remains a wide variability of the patterns of power and leadership, due mainly to personal factors. We found both monocentric configurations of power (one local leader clearly stood out), and a polycentric power structure (alliances and/or rivalry of several actors with comparable power and influence). A change in the configuration of power actors can significantly influence not only the style of management and the nature of intra-elite relationships, but the power hierarchy as well. Leadership, like other social phenomena, is always in the process of change. The dynamics of power and leadership are most influenced by institutional changes in the structure of municipal government, new regional leaders, personal and situational factors. The outcomes of the study confirm the assumption that the heads of the executive branch are not always the most influential figures in a community, although they have the most significant formal resources of power. Not all heads of administrations in the towns we studied were actually the leaders of local communities, since they did not have sufficient authority, a strong team, or well-built relations with regional authorities. In cases where there was clearly not enough personal resources, the power vacuum was filled by other forceseither by other local actors or by regional authorities, strengthening control to maintain the order and manageability of the territory. The study has shown that a leader, although unable to completely reverse negative tendencies due to external factors, can mitigate their consequences. The deterioration of the socio-economic situation in small towns can be halted if the heads of towns and other representatives of the elite pool are able to take on leadership functions and use them to achieve the common good. In times of crisis and institutional reform, the role of leaders increases. Therefore, when difficulties arise, a demand for leadership is formed.