Transformation of Local Power Elites: the Institutionalization of Social Movements in St Petersburg


Starting from the elections of 1990, the renewal of St Petersburg’s political elite has developed in two stages. During the first stage, activists of social movement organizations were established in the city representative body (institutionalization of social movements). In the second stage, authoritative bodies within the city Soviet were formed from the deputy corps (whose members we have identified as the elite). Having progressed from their role of challenging the institutionalized political process to participating in it, the new city political leadership at first followed the patterns of social movement behaviour. There has been, however, a shift in activity patterns and an estrangement from challenging groups. There is also evidence of a change in the concept of city authorities’ functioning. The desire for a union of representative and executive power, typical of an initial introduction to politics, is giving way to recognition of the need for a division of power. But the admission of leaders of challenging social movements to city power structures has not entailed their conversion to the new city elite.