Doctoral Fellow

Doctoral Fellow Denys GorbachDenys Gorbach

Discipline: Political Science
Supervisor: Jenny Andersson
Enrolled: September 2017

Denys Gorbach received his Master's degree in June 2017 from the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Central European University, Budapest. Previously, he received his BA in political science and MA in philosophy from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine, and worked as an economic journalist. His research interests include political economy, social movements, and working class formation in the post-Soviet region. For his master’s project, Denys studied hegemonic configurations at the workplace and national level that prevented trade unions from becoming channels of radical political mobilisation. His current research project is focused on national populism in today's Ukraine – both as the basis of dominant national public discourses and as the defining factor of the country's national variety of capitalism.


  • Project description

    The Moral Economy of the Post-Socialist Worker: Imbricated perspective on neo-patrimonialism in Ukraine

    The quality of democracy and “good governance” has lately become a source of disturbance even in the countries of the global capitalist core, to say nothing of the post-socialist periphery. Why has Ukraine not been able to build a functioning liberal democracy, even though its political history has been punctured by mass movements with the “Europeanisation” and anti-oligarchic agenda? In order to address this puzzle, my research assumes the imbrication perspective, analysing the way in which Ukraine’s politics is shaped by, and shapes in its turn, economic transformations and changing moral economies.

    Most of existing literature focuses on the issue of the quality of post-Soviet institutions, thus reducing the problem to a matter of technical procedures in the imagined isolated political domain. The imbrication of this domain in the economic and moral landscapes is acknowledged in the concepts of rent-seeking, corruption, populism, and paternalism; however, the normativity of such framework and its methodological nationalism do not allow to grasp the complex configuration on its own terms. In order to do it, I mobilise Gramscian theoretical framework, which allows to see junctions between analytically separated domains and between different scales, interpreting them as parts of a hegemonic regime.

    Focusing on the case of a specific Ukrainian city, I analyse its changing hegemonic formations by tracing the city’s political history as well as the history of its public infrastructure systems, through the archives of local press and interviews. On a lower level of analysis, I take four cases of hegemony building at the workplace level, following the divergence of factory regimes into more and less stable formations. Finally, I analyse political attitudes of individual working-class informants, paying attention to the mechanisms of building distinctions and survival strategies that contribute to the formation of a “populist” worldview. The data for the two last levels of analysis are taken from ethnographic interviews and participant observation.

    Ukraine has seen two ephemeral hegemonic configurations, both of which relied heavily on the social and political embeddedness of economic processes and moral/identitarian embeddedness of politics. Both were overdetermined by global economic processes and weakness of local political subjects and ended, respectively, with the beginning of the global commodity boom in the late 1990s and with its end in 2012. The attempt to constitute a new, disembedded national-liberal accumulation regime has failed. The country keeps living in the interregnum, the state that can continue for a very long time until a new hegemonic bloc establishes sustainable connections between vernacular moral economy and politico-economic processes, coherent at various scales. Ukrainian case shows that a political regime is formed by socio-economic processes interacting on many levels. By taking these junctions seriously, researchers will get a better grasp of the challenges posed by “populism” or “institutional failure” to the liberal hegemonic order elsewhere as well as on the global level.

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Short biography

  • June 2015-present: openDemocracy.net. Contributor to the section covering Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union – analysis of social and politico-economic issues regarding Ukraine
  • 2015-2017: Central European University, Budapest, Hungary. MA in Sociology and Social Anthorpology, with Global and Urban Studies Specialization. MA thesis title "Underground Waterlines: Explaining Political Quiescence of Ukrainian Trade Unions"
  • 2014-2015: Centre.UA NGO, Kyiv, Ukraine. Economic analyst.

Teaching experience

  • Fall 2020: Research Workshop: Qualitative Methods of Social Inquiry. Sciences Po Reims campus, own course.
  • 2020−2021: Capstone Project (Parcours civique). Sciences Po Reims campus, academic advisor.
  • March 2020: Studying post-Soviet (re)productive labour through an ethnographic lens. Labour-atory: research school on contemporary concepts and empirical approaches in labour studies (Moscow), own course (co-authored with Volodymyr Artiukh and Oksana Dutchak).
  • March 2020: Labour, value, money: The great theoretical debate. Labour-atory: research school on contemporary concepts and empirical approaches in labour studies (Moscow), own course (co-authored with Volodymyr Artiukh and Oksana Dutchak).
  • Fall 2019: Research Workshop: Qualitative Methods of Social Inquiry. Sciences Po Reims campus, own course.
  • Fall 2019: Comparative Politics. Sciences Po Paris campus, course of Laura Morales, seminar groups.
  • Fall 2018: The Great Transition − Responsibility, Innovation, Commons. Sciences Po School of Management and Innovation, course of Marie-Laure Djelic, Dominique Cardon and Eloi Laurent, TA.

Selected publications


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