Accepted Paper:

Whose corruption: neo-lliberalism, class and the European integration to the East  

Author:

Sabina Stan (Dublin City University)

Paper short abstract:

During the European integration process, corruption served as a major signifier of the distance separating East European countries from those already inside the Union. The paper proposes that, rather than being simply a socialist legacy, corruption can be understood as part and parcel of neo-liberalism´s project of restoring the power of ruling classes.

Paper long abstract:

In the last two rounds of the European integration process, corruption served as a major signifier of the distance separating East European countries from those already inside the Union. The first were seen as emerging from decades of communist regime the economy of which rotted under the moist grip of central planning. As such, they were deemed in need of rapid transformation towards Western standards of democracy and free market. East and West, plan and market, public and private, past and future, socialism and capitalism were collapsed into a mutually reinforcing opposition which highlighted contrasting features of, on the one hand, corruption, opacity and waste, and, on the other, transparency, accountability and efficiency.

Challenging this stark opposition, the paper proposes that, rather than being simply a socialist legacy, corruption can be understood as part and parcel of neo-liberalism and of its project of restoring the power of ruling elites and classes (Harvey, 2005). Indeed, corruption contributes to this project both on the material level (by helping to channel additional resources in the hands of the corporate class) and on the ideological level (by redefining corruption as an issue external to the market, because situated in the public sector or in "other", non-market economies). But while ruling or ascending classes re-appropriate the global neo-liberal discourse in a locally specific manner, dominated classes also develop their own understandings of corruption that challenge the dominant view.

Panel W121
Poster session