Rustam Urinboyev

Researcher, PhD in Sociology of Law, Master of Public Policy and Human Development, Bachelors of Jurisprudence

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Law and Society
  • International Migration and Ethnic Relations
  • Public Administration Studies
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • Corruption, Informality, Islamic Public Administration, Governance, Protection Rackets and Street Law, Central Asian Studies, Post-Soviet Studies


Research Areas

  • Corruption and Informality
  • Socio-Legal Approaches to Migration
  • Legal Culture
  • Islamic Public Administration
  • Central Asian Studies
  • Russian and Post-Soviet Studies

Current Research

Rustam works at the intersection of sociology of law and ethnography, analysing the role of law, legal institutions and informal ‘legal orders’ in weak rule-of-law societies (e.g. Russia, Uzbekistan). His current projects include:

1. Migration and Legal Cultures in Post-Soviet Societies: This project is funded by the Swedish Research Council and explores the impact of migration and information and communication technologies (ICT) on legal cultures in post-Soviet societies. The project uses the ethnographic case study of Uzbek migrant workers in Russia.

2. Legal Incorporation and Adaptations of Labour Migrants in Hybrid Political Regimes: A book project on migrant illegality and informal integration strategies in Russia. I probe into the ways the migrants maneuver their life in the Russian legal system and among the police, immigration officials and border guards, and how they employ informal order-producing structures. Theoretically, I use the case of Russia – a hybrid political regime and the world's third largest recipient of migrants – to develop new theoretical perspectives on labour migrants’ legal incorporations and adaptations in hybrid political regimes. The study is based on my extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Moscow, Russia and Fergana region, Uzbekistan totalling a period of thirteen months in 2014-2017.

3. The Social Life of Corruption in Post-Soviet Societies: A book project on the role of society’s informal norms and ‘non-monetary currencies’ in the emergence, explanation, persistence and ubiquitousness of corruption. It investigates corruption beyond the established paradigms, showing that that people engage in informal or illegal transactions not just to satisfy their economic needs but also to fulfil their family and kinship obligations, socialise and maintain membership in their community, avoid gossips and social sanctions and get more moral and affective support from those around them. The central argument of the book is that the measures and tools adopted to understand and combat corruption should go beyond a merely economistic view and (Western-centric) normative approaches and that, to convince people to act within the realms of state law, a structure replacing not only economic opportunity but also reducing the gap between state law and society’s informal norms and rules (the “living law”) should be put into place.

Recent research outputs

Polese, A., Turaeva, R. & Rustam Urinboyev, 2019 Nov 30, (Accepted/In press) Palgrave Macmillan. (International Political Economy)

Research output: Book/ReportAnthology (editor)

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