Informal Welfare and Everyday Acts of Resistance to the State in Post-Soviet Central Asia. An Ethnographic Study of Mahalla Institutions in Rural Fergana, Uzbekistan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


This paper aims to examine the processes and impact of welfare state retrenchment on state-society relations in post-Soviet Uzbekistan and how community-based welfare structures have evolved to respond to declining social welfare services, acting as an informal welfare structure given the failure of existing regime to address the structural inequalities and market defects during the transition period. It is argued that mahalla, a community-based governance structure originating from Central Asia’s Islamic past and administrative traditions, are now a key welfare structure that makes up for the incapacity of the state, offering alternative (to the state) forms of welfare support to the population. However, these developments have had far-reaching repercussions for state-society relations, state legitimacy and the political and social fabric of society in Uzbekistan. As the state retreated from its social welfare obligations, citizens are also retreating from their loyalty to the state by challenging the image, symbols and laws of the state and inventing informal means of ‘getting things done’. This paper suggests that citizens’ collective, mahalla- based informal income-generating activities and pooling of efforts are not only a survival strategy, but also they can be seen as citizens’ ‘everyday acts of the resistance to the state‘ in post-Soviet Uzbekistan.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Law and Society


  • Central Asian studies, Governance, Welfare, Resistance, Law and Society, mahalla, Informality
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFestskrift till Karsten Åström
EditorsKarl Dahlstrand
PublisherJuristförlaget i Lund
ISBN (Print)978-91-5440-569-5
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 14
Publication categoryResearch

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