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Perceptions of Corruption in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan: Neoliberalism and Contested Morality

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image of Transcultural Studies

Corruption levels increased significantly across the newly independ-ent states of the former Soviet Union.1 The dominant approach to un-derstanding this developmental problem has been informed by neolib-eral models of market-led development2 which tend to under-socialize human action. Critical of this approach, this paper presents a case study from post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, widely perceived to be among the most corrupt of the post-Soviet states. Drawing on ethnographic and interview data collected during 2011 and 2012, I argue that the domi-nant approach has misled attempts to address this problem through paying insufficient attention to different meanings engaged in transac-tions typically deemed petty corruption and the moral discourses ac-companying distribution of this illicit wealth.


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