The presentation focuses on the process of juridical professionalization of Russian human rights NGOs from the perspective of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the juridical field and other approaches of contemporary sociology of law. It is argued that organizational models used by human rights activists reflect the configuration and the dynamics of power relations both within and outside the juridical field in today’s Russia. Juridical professionalization of human rights NGOs is regarded as structured by unequal access to material resources and symbolic capital and dependent on continuous attempts to stigmatize their activities. The asymmetry of power relationships in the juridical field forces human rights lawyers to develop specific solutions for counteracting illegal violence in law enforcement bodies. Specialized forms of juridical activity and tactical moves are singled out which are used by NGOs in their interaction with Russian and international courts. However, the current models of professional conduct within law enforcement agencies can be influenced only selectively and mostly at the local level. As a result even modest achievements in this sphere require constant and active work on the part of human rights NGOs. At the same time changes in Russian legislation strengthened the trend towards marginalization of these NGOs and further restrictions on their activities.
Elena Maslovskaya is head of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the Sociological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, St.-Petersburg. Her research interests include theories of sociology of law, the legal profession, interaction of NGOs with legal institutions, the role of experts in legal proceedings. She is the author of two monographs on sociology of law and the Russian judicial system. Her articles have appeared in such journals asSotsiologicheskie issledovaniia, Mir Rossii, Sotsiologiia vlasti. An article dealing with the topic of this presentation is forthcoming in the second volume ofUppsala Yearbook of Eurasian Studies.