The paradoxical role of the Shanson in Putin's Russia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study analyzes the colorful phenomenon of the Russian shanson in the context of contemporary Russian culture and politics. It targets shanson's complex symbiotic relationship with Putin's regime and its paradoxical place within Russian culture and politics today. The musical genre has undergone a veritable sea change over time, evolving from a subcultural form mocking official powers to a "normalized" cultural product that now bears the Kremlin's stamp of approval. Faced with the new post-Soviet economic reality, the underworld song underwent changes that transformed it into a commercially successful genre currently acknowledged, and even deployed, by the Russian authorities. While such shifts often mark a subculture's lifecycle, what is particularly striking in this case is the shanson's continued bond with the underworld. Such a paradox, I contend, may be illuminated, if only in part, by the specific nature of Putin's cultivated public persona and particular features of the Putin regime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-384
Number of pages43
JournalSoviet and Post Soviet Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2018


  • Blatnaia pesnia
  • Poniatiia
  • Putin's masculinity Russian politics
  • Russian criminal culture
  • Shanson
  • Thieves in law (vory v zakone)
  • Thieves' world (vorovskoi mir)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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