A Culture of Corruption?

Coping with Government in Post-communist Europe
$90.00 / €79.00 / £71.00
Publication date: 
320 pages

There is wide agreement that democracy should provide citizens with more than a small share of influence over central government. A democratic system should ensure that citizens are treated with fairness and respect by government officials. Based upon a plethora of surveys and in-depth interviews with government officials and citizens, this book focuses on issues such as bribery, corruption, inefficiency and freedom of information, in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

A major strength of A Culture of Corruption is that the authors go beyond analysing public perceptions and behavior and look at public attitudes towards proposals for reform. The authors reveal how the problem of citizens' interactions with officials varies in kind as well as in degree across the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

A Culture of Corruption provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive account of how citizens cope with state officials in post-communist Europe, how they feel about their dealings with these officials and what support they give to proposals for reform.

List of Tables
List of Figures
Preface and Acknowledgements

1. Coping with Government: Democratic Ideals and Street-Level Bureaucrats
The Democratic Ideal: A ‘Complete Democracy’
Should Public-Sector Corruption Be Condemned?
Does Street-Level Corruption Matter?
Do History and Culture Exclude the Possibility of Reform?
Why Surveys?
What Surveys?
Plan of the Book
Appendix: The Study Design

2. Context: An Unfinished Transition
The Democratisation of Local Government
Privatisation and Restitution
Economic and Moral Chaos
The Political Context
Public Perspectives on the Unfinished Transition
Conclusion: Victims of a Necessary Transition

3. Public Perceptions and Public Experience of Officials
Public Perceptions of Politicians and Top Government Officials
Public Perceptions of Street-Level Officials
Public Perceptions of Comparative Corruption
Public Perceptions of the Need to Use Contacts and Bribes
Public Perceptions of Officials’ Motives and Feelings
Public Experience of Dealing with Officials
Experience of Being Treated with Respect
Experience of Favourable Treatment
Experience of Fair (or Unfair) Treatment
Experience of Extortion
The Most Frequent or Most Annoying Problems When Dealing with Street-Level Officials
Public Satisfaction with Street-Level Officials
Conclusion: Extremely Negative Perceptions, Moderately Negative Experiences

4. Citizen Strategies for Dealing with Officials
How Citizens in Focus-Groups Discussed Strategies for Dealing With Officials
Different Strategies for Different Objectives: Fair Treatment or Favours
Different Strategies in Gossip and Personal Experience
Public Perceptions of the Strategies Needed to Deal with Officials: Gossip and Hearsay
Personal Experience of Using Different Strategies: Reported Behaviour
Combinations of Strategies
Influences on Citizens’ Choice of Strategies
All Strategies Correlate with Citizen Dissatisfaction
Conclusion: Increased Argument, Not Bribery, Is the Main Response to Ill-Treatment

5. Willing Givers?
A Moral Imperative to Obey the Law?
Public Condemnation of the Use of Contacts, Presents and Bribes
A Permanent Part of Our Country’s History and Culture?
Would Citizens Give Bribes If Asked, or Accept Them If Offered?
Feelings about Giving Bribes: Happy, Angry, Worried or Ashamed?
Public Experience of Actually Giving Presents and Bribes to Officials
A Difference between Presents and Bribes? The Significance of Size, Timing and Motivation
Did ‘Values and Norms’ Affect Behaviour?
The Impact of Attempted Extortion
The Independent Effects of Values and Extortion: A Regression Analysis
Conclusion: Extortion Always Works, but Values Sometimes Moderate Its Impact

6. ‘Try Harder’ or ‘Give Up’: The Choice for Ethnic Minorities?
A General Curvilinear Model of Response to Stress
Eight Diverse Minorities
Negative Attitudes towards Ethnic Minorities: Cross-Country and Cross-Minority Comparisons
Suspicions of Ethnic Discrimination
Actual Experience of Biased Treatment
Comparative International Perspectives
Ethnic Values and Norms
Ethnic Behaviour
The ‘Ecological Effect’: The Impact of Context
Conclusion: Most Ethnic Minorities Are Located in the ‘Try Harder’ Zone, but Gypsies in the ‘Give Up’ Zone, and Turks on the Boundary
Appendix: The Ethnic Samples

7. Street-Level Bureaucrats: Caught between State and Citizen
Officials ‘As Citizens’--in Relation to Other Officials
Officials ‘As Employees’--in Relation to the State
Officials ‘As Officials’--in Relation to Their Clients
How Did Their Experience ‘As Employees’ Affect Officials’ Relationships with Clients?
Conclusion: Benign and Pernicious Institutional Cultures

8. Willing Takers?
Temptations, Excuses and Justifications
Doubts, Fears and Inhibitions
Opportunity and Motivation
Why Did Some Officials Accept while Others Did Not?
A Causal Model
Conclusion: Bargaining Power Rather Than Poverty Leads to Bribe Taking

9. A Culture of Corruption? Support, Priorities and Prospects for Reform
Is Reform Possible?
Perceptions of Government Commitment to Reform
Expert Opinion: Six Prescriptions
Public Opinion on Reform--As Expressed in Focus-Group Discussions
A Ten-Item Menu of Reform: Public Opinion and the Reactions of Street-Level Officials
Priorities: The Single Most Effective Reform
Reform Packages
Resistance to Reform
Alternative Ways of Encouraging Officials
Downsizing the State
Training and Guidance
Reform Itself As the Problem?
Public Support for International Pressure
Why Do People Within the Same Country Have Different Views About Reform?
Diagnosis and Prescription
Analytic Perspectives: Focusing Reforms on Situations Rather Than Participants
Could ‘Glorious Summer’ Follow the ‘Winter of Discontent’?


"Any casual visitor to Central Europe knows how pervasive the perception (and probably the reality) of corruption is. This is, then, a very welcome addition to the literature. Its strength is the focus on ordinary citizens and how they cope with bureaucracy at their level - and on the larger issue of consolidating democracy. This is no expose of elite scandal but a close study of citizen encounters in Slovakia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic. An important chapter on ethnic minorities and officials is welcome. ... This volume will be most accessible to advanced social scientists. ... will benefit many as it shows variation between countries."
"Die meisten Studien zur Demokratisierung im postkommunistischen Europa konzentrieren sich auf Entwicklungen auf der nationalen politischen Ebene. Eine bedeutende Ausnahme ist A Culture of Corruption."
"This excellent and thorough study, consisting of nine chapters, undertakes the ambitious task of getting emprirical data on what the authors call 'bureaucratic encounters' between citizens and state officers in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Ukraine... This long-awaited study is an outstanding contribution to political science ...certainly comparable to the classic 'Civic Culture' by Almond and Verba, and an indispensible source of research and inspiration in any political science library"
"...a valuable addition to the literature on corruption in general and on corruption in transitional eastern Europe, in particular ... an excellent survey of how civil society in eastern Europe copes with an endemic social and political condtion, corruption (in its conventional defintion of official self-dealing). Anyone interested in the eventual shape of east European society would do well to consider this volume."