Staging Democracy: Political Performance in Ukraine, Russia, and Beyond by Jessica Pisano

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"Staging Democracy is a brilliant exposition of what lies behind post-Soviet politics. A thought-provoking book that pushes the study of post-Soviet democracy in new directions" – Lucan Ahmad Way, University of Toronto

Jessica Pisano draws on long-term research in rural communities and company towns, analysing how local political and business leaders, seeking favour from incumbent politicians, used salaries, benefits and public infrastructure to pressure citizens to participate in command performances.

Pisano looks at elections whose outcome was known in advance, protests for hire, and smaller mises-en-scène to explain why people participate, what differs from spectacle in totalitarian societies, how political theatre exists in both authoritarian and democratic systems, and how such performances reshape understandings of the role of politics.

Staging Democracy moves beyond Russia and Ukraine to offer a novel economic argument for why some people support Putin and similar politicians. Pisano suggests we can analyse politics in both democracies and authoritarian regimes using the same analytical lens of political theatre.