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The political economy of collective memories: Evidence from Russian politics


  • Belmonte, Alessandro
  • Rochlitz, Michael


How do political elites reactivate salient collective memories to entrench their power? We study this question examining a government-led recollection campaign of the traumatic transition the Russian population experienced during the 1990s, starting with the year 2003. Using detailed data from national-level TV and radio as well as a text analysis of 3832 regional and local newspapers, we estimate a higher electoral support for the government, and a lower support for the liberal political opposition, in regions that suffered more during the transition period, once negative memories are recalled on state-controlled media. We then provide additional evidence on the mechanism at play, and show how the effect of the newspaper-based recollection campaign is stronger in regions that feature less political competition, and where the governor is a member of the ruling party United Russia.

Suggested Citation

  • Belmonte, Alessandro & Rochlitz, Michael, 2019. "The political economy of collective memories: Evidence from Russian politics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 229-250.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:168:y:2019:i:c:p:229-250
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.10.009

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    More about this item


    Collective memory; Selective recollection of the past; Voting; Russia;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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