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Stephen Crowley

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Stephen Crowley is Professor in the Department of Politics, Oberlin College. He is a scholar of the politics of Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe, with a focus on labor and the political economy of postcommunist transformations. His teaching centers on Russia and Eastern Europe, peace and conflict studies, revolutions, and globalization. 

Recent research has focused on the impact of economic sanctions on Russian society, and the potential for social and economic protest as a result.

Another current research project is entitled "Deindustrialization and the Populist Challenge: Comparing East and West," examining political outcomes in four rust-belt communities in the US, UK, Poland and Russia. 

Crowley has been a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University's Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, at the Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki, at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Bologna, and at the Collegium Budapest/Institute for Advanced Study.

Latest Book

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Praise (links to published reviews below).

“In his important new book, Crowley makes the relationship between the country’s political leaders and the working class central to Russia’s postcommunist transformation. … [A] terrific book on an understudied topic in Russian politics that also raises important issues for comparative labor studies.  Written in a clear and accessible style, Crowley’s work should find a warm reception from a range of audiences.”

 -- Timothy Frye, Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Political Science, Columbia University, author of Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin's Russia, a "Critical Review" in Perspectives on Politics.


"Crowley’s book makes the critical argument that the elite’s fear of workers’ unrest has been a major brake on deindustrialization and modernization in Russia. He convinces this reader that workers have been more active, vocal and influential than experts realized, that we must look not only at elites’ interests but at societal actors in order to understand the politics of Putin’s Russia. This important, engaging and authoritative study is essential reading for all who seek such understanding."


-- Linda J. Cook, Professor Emerita of Political Science and Slavic Studies Brown University, author of Postcommunist Welfare States: Reform Politics in Russia and Eastern Europe, forthcoming review in Slavic Review.

"In Putin's Labor Dilemma, Stephen Crowley explores the overlooked and misunderstood relationship between Russia's political elite and the still-significant mass of working-class people. It is about so much more than just labor politics, and is a highly polished, masterly written, and broad ranging work of the highest quality."

-- Jeremy Morris, Aarhus University, author of Everyday Postsocialism


"Stephen Crowley is a most reliable guide to understanding what is going on beneath Russia's surface of labor stability. Deftly drawing on his expertise in labor history as well as his acumen as a political scientist, he demonstrates that Putin's labor dilemma stems from legacies of the Soviet past as well as the oligarchic nature of Russian capitalism."

-- Lewis Siegelbaum, Michigan State University, author of Stuck on Communism

"Putin's Labor Dilemma offers a historically-informed and spatially-sensitive account of economic and political change in post-communist Russia. It also offers valuable insights into understanding societal change in (post)industrial societies beyond the post-communist world. This is an excellent book, which I would recommend to anyone interested in Russian geography, current politics, or labor movements."

-- Nadir Kinossian, review in Eurasian Geography and Economics

"Putin's Labor Dilemma is an invaluable resource in understanding why and how Russia's labor movements have not successfully influenced the government in many cases, but why the Russian government still rightly worries about them. Many observers have long discounted the political sway of labor in post-communist Russia. Crowley gives us good reason to keep labor politics central in our understanding how Putin navigates stability and stagnation."

Sarah Wilson Sokhey, author of The Political Economy of Pension Policy Reversal in Post-Communist Countries, review in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review.


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