Georgian Poor with Limited Exit and Voice; Case of Internally Displaced Persons

Open to the Public
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Popper room
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 2:30pm
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Monday, January 16, 2012 - 2:30pm to 4:30pm

Lela Rekhviashvili
The Department of Political Science, CEU

Georgian Poor with Limited Exit and Voice; Case of Internally Displaced Persons

Current study discusses the conditions and coping strategies of Georgian lower classes struggling with poverty, unemployment and insecurity while reforming state does not prioritize on social welfare.

Firstly it draws the macro picture of transformative processes in Georgia exploring three broad dimensions: 1. marketization and state capacity 2. democracy and security; and discusses implications of changes in these dimensions for the coping mechanisms of the poor and marginalized. The country is compared to the rest of Post Soviet states as well as EU member states of Central and Eastern Europe.

Secondly, it describes the circumstances and coping mechanisms of the group of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Georgia that remain poor and vulnerable compared to the wider population. This part is primarily based on in depth qualitative interviews conducted in summer 2011 with the experts working on displacement. Georgia has succeeded in liberalizing economy, increasing state administrative and regulatory capacity and fighting corruption. This process has not been compensated with extending social security provision. Furthermore, democratic performance has not improved and has even deteriorated since 2007 (Aphrasidze 2010). If we apply Hirchman's dictionary and theory (Hirschman 1970) the picture would be the following: the segment of population that relied on informal solutions have lost this 'exit' option as a consequence of marketization and state capacity increase; however, as democracy does not function well they cannot exercise 'voice' option to pressure the government to provide basic social security as a compensation for marketization.

It will be illustrated that Georgia is a regional outlier as no other state with this high state capacity has retained this low democratic development and low social security provision. We shell discuss the implications of this unique case for the theories of development and transformation.

Discussant Viola Zentai
Center for Policy Studies, CEU