The Effects of the Saakashvili Era Reforms on Informal Practices in the Republic of Georgia

Huseyn Aliyev

Abstract


Since the 2003 Rose Revolution, the Georgian government implemented a number of major institutional reforms which have succeeded in modernising Georgia’s state institutions, reducing corruption and ‘formalising’ the public sector. While the effects of Saakashvili’s reforms on state and institution-building, corruption and the rule of law have been examined by a large and growing body of academic literature, there has been little discussion about the impact of institutional changes on the previously widespread culture of informality in Georgia. This article explores the effects of Georgian institution-building from such aspects of informality as the use of informal networks and connections in exchanges of favours, gift-giving and other types of informal activities. The findings of this study, based on the analysis of recent surveys and in-depth interviews, conclude that the reforms succeeded in undermining the overall importance of informal practices in dealings with state bureaucracy, education system, healthcare, law enforcement, judiciary and some other areas previously dominated by informality. However, the reliance on informality did not disappear, and informal networks are still employed as coping mechanisms and as social safety nets.

Keywords


informal practices; institutional reforms; Georgia; Rose Revolution; informal networks

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