Baudrillard Goes to Kyiv: Institutional Simulacra in Transition

Christopher Andrew HARTWELL


The transition process in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union from 1989 onward has been focused on the reform of institutions in order to re-orient the economy. However, throughout the former Soviet space, “transition” has been merely a label for many countries, covering the reality of a fundamental lack of change in either political or economic institutions. Using the idea of simulacra and simulation, first posited by philosopher Jean Baudrillard in 1981, I show how institutional change in transition for some prominent “transition economies” has proceeded through stages in simulation. In particular, using examples from Central Asia and Ukraine, I examine how crucial institutions have changed from a perversion of reality into symbols that are divorced from any reality. Current events in Ukraine show that institutional simulacra can exposed when an exogenous reality forces its way through.

Keywords. Institutions, simulacra, transition, Ukraine.

JEL. B25, B52, Z13.

Full Text:


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