Catherine Owen

Department: Department of Politics
Discipline: Politics
Research Centre/Unit: 'Obshchestvennyi Kontrol'' (Public Scrutiny) from Discourse to Action in Contemporary Russia: The Emergence of Authoritarian Neoliberal Governance

Project Summary

I passed my viva in October 2014 subject to minor corrections. My external examiner was Richard Sakwa; the internal was Nicole Bolleyer.

My PhD research examined discourses of civic engagement in governance during the Putin era.  It showed how the concept of 'public scrutiny' [obshchestvennyi kontrol'] has been operationalised by the Kremlin to codify mechanisms of civic engagement and co-opt autonomous, grass-roots activism into state-led governance initiatives. Using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as a loose guide, the thesis considered anterior discourses which led to the emergence of Putinist discourses, the challenges to this discourse from below, and rearticulation of the federal-level discourse by regional authorities in three case studies of Moscow, St Petersburg and Samara. It argued that the limited opportunities for civic engagement in governance can be seen as examples of 'authoritarian neoliberal governance', which combines policies of outsourcing, decentralisation and privatisation with mechanisms which aim to retain a high level of state control.

Supervisory Team

First supervisor: Dr. John Heathershaw

Second supervisor: Dr. Andrew Schaap

Wider Research Interests

 My primary research interests are contemporary Russian politics, the politics and society of post-communist countries, civic participation in governance, reform of the public sector in postcommunist countries, authoritarianism, neoliberalism, postmodernity, and civil society.

I am a Research Associate at the thinktank, Foreign Policy Centre,, and a regular contributor to the international affairs blog, ThinkIR:

From September 2013 I have been working as Research Administrator/Research Fellow on John Heathershaw's ESRC-funded project, 'Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia.'

Finally, I have an ongoing interest in radical, specifically anarchist, political theory. I am interested in creating spaces in which students and non-students can learn from each other. To that end I, as part of a team, was awarded £2000 from the AHRC in 2010 - 2011 to undertake a public engagement initiative, 'Engaging with Radical Ideas', in which PhD students from South West universities and residents of the city of Exeter discussed anarchist, green, queer, and post-structuralist theory both on local radio and at an NGO in Exeter town centre.

Authored Publications/Reports

Catherine Owen (16th October 2011) Анархисты Киргизстана: Горизонтальные св, Cogita!.ru

Catherine Owen (14th November 2011) Мемориал Ата-Бейит: Кыргызстан закрывает , Cogita!.ru

Catherine Owen (13th December 2011) Russia Protests Parliamentary Elections: Winds of Change or Just a Lot of Hot Air?, Foreign Policy Centre

Catherine Owen (6th January 2012) Великая Грамшисткая Декабрьская Эволюци, Cogita!ru

Catherine Owen (3rd July 2014) The State Monitors Citizens Monitoring the State: The New Face of Civic Engagement in Russia, Foreign Policy Centre

Catherine Owen (1st March 2014) Leontovitsch, Viktor, The History of Liberalism in Russia. Translated by Parmen Leontovitsch. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012, xiii + 374pp. $55.00 h/b., Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 66, No. 2 (March 2014)

Catherine Owen (12th June 2012) Review: Vadim Kononenko and Arkady Moshes (eds.), Russia as a Network State: What works in Russia when state institutions do not? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011., Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 64, No. 5, 973-974

Catherine Owen (3rd July 2012) Review: Oleg Kharkhordin and Risto Alapuro (eds.) 'Political Theory and Community-building in Post-Soviet Russia', BASEES/Routledge Series on Russia and East European Studies. Abingdon, Routledge, 2011., Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 64, No. 6, 1150-1151

Catherine Owen (13th July 2012) ЛГБТ сообщество протестует, несмотря на з , Cogita!ru

Catherine Owen (29th April 2013) State Cooptation not Independent Contol: The Slow Evisceration of Russia's Public Monitoring Commissions, Foreign Policy Centre

Catherine Owen (26th November 2012) What Happened to the 'Russian Spring'?, Foreign Policy Centre

Catherine Owen (5th December 2012) Is the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights 'Democratic': Implications for Russian Governance, Foreign Policy Centre

Catherine Owen (7th July 2014) Fedyashin, Anton A., Liberals under Autocracy. Modernization and Civil Society in Russia, 1866–1904. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012, x + 282pp., £22.95/$26.95 p/b., Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 66 No. 5

Catherine Owen (4th September 2013) Julie Wilhelmsen & Elana Wilson Rowe (eds), Russia's Encounter With Globalization: Actors, Processes and Critical Moments, Houndsmill: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011, xii + 233pp., £57.50 h/b., Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 65, No. 7., 1482-1483

Catherine Owen (30th March 2015) "Consentful Contention" in a Corporate State: Human Rights Activists and Public Monitoring Commissions in Russia, East European Politics, Vol. 31 No. 1