Dissertation Abstracts

Corruption Everywhere? A Central European case

Author: Jancsics, David , djancsics@gc.cuny.edu
Department: Sociology
University: City University of New York, USA
Supervisor: Professor Paul Attewell
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Corruption , Economic sociology , Qualitative research , Central Europe
Areas of Research: Economy and Society , Organization , Deviance and Social Control


Both petty and large-scale corruption are widespread in Central Europe. The granting of government contracts is frequently subject to political and monetary influence. Small-scale transactions, from avoiding a traffic ticket to obtaining a license, are sometimes the occasion for bribes. My dissertation examines corruption through several lenses. First, I review a large research literature that spans disciplines from economics to political science, management to anthropology, and I identify the main theoretical positions that scholars have taken towards corruption in its various forms. I discuss the strengths and weaknesses of alternative conceptualizations and suggest areas for theoretical synthesis and development.

Second, I present a set of empirical studies that depart from the dominant approach that uses reputational sample surveys of national populations. Instead, I undertook a multi-year interviewing project in Hungary, using a snowball technique to access individuals who had first-hand experiences with petty or larger-scale corrupt transactions. Based on 50 interviews, I provide detailed empirical portraits of several types of corruption, reporting the motives of the parties involved, their social class and other demographic characteristics, and their organizational positions. I recount the voices and opinions of Hungarians at all levels of society about their involvement in these transactions. Some are condemnatory; others provide justifications and rationales for their actions.

Third, I develop separate analyses of corruption at the top, in the middle layers, and at the bottom of organizations, drawing out the distinctive purposes and dynamics of corruption in each setting. I also examine the importance of go-betweens or middlemen and the roles they play in some types of corruption, and the emergence of entire corrupt networks in certain contexts.

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