White, S. and Mcallister, I., 'Special Issue: The Quality of Democracy in Post-Communist Europe', Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, Vol.20, Iss.1 (2004), 81-97
The end of communist rule does not appear to have given ordinary Russians a strong sense of political efficacy, compared not just with Western countries but with other post-Soviet republics. There are low levels of trust in civic and particularly in political institutions, and Russians are less likely than Belarusians or Ukrainians to believe that elections afford them a significant opportunity to influence national policy. Membership of civic associations, particularly political parties, is also low, and low levels of membership and of political efficacy appear to be self-reinforcing. Levels of disengagement are most closely related to participation in the labour force, and there is a clear consistency in the factors that shape disengagement and in their relative magnitude across the three societies. The importance of social learning in forming patterns of political participation suggests that the legacy of the communist period may be an enduring one.