Migration, Shadow Economy and Parallel Legal Orders in Russia


KONE Foundation, 2017-2022*

*Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the use of the funding has been extended until the end of 2022


This project aims to examine undocumented labour migrants’ legal culture and socio-legal integration in a politically hybrid regime. The project uses the case of Russia, a hybrid political regime and one of the world’s largest recipients of labour migrants, to investigate how undocumented migrants negotiate and manoeuvre around the restrictive socio-legal environment through producing new ways of informal governance and legal order.

The project has the following three objectives: (1) to develop a theoretically robust understanding of undocumented migrants’ socio-legal integration in politically hybrid regimes; (2) to produce new ethnographic material about the relationship between undocumented migrants, employers, law-enforcement structures and unofficial protection structures in the Russian migrant labour market and (3) to enhance the knowledge about the effects of these processes on societal transformation, role and rule of law and governance trajectories in Russia. These issues will be explored through the socio-legal study of everyday life and experiences of Central Asian migrants in Moscow. Our multidisciplinary project employs a mixed-methods approach and draws on the concepts and theories developed within migration studies, law and society, security, public administration and religion studies.

This project advances our understanding of how labour migrants build relationship with law and law-like structures in politically-hybrid regimes. It explores the case of Russia that represents the ever-growing category of hybrid political regimes that are neither democratic nor purely authoritarian. Analysing migrants’ socio-legal integration in such regimes is a bold initiative as it bridges the knowledge gap on this topic, current studies being mostly limited to analysis of Western-type democracies.

Researchers in the Aleksanteri Institute

Anna-Liisa Heusala, principal investigator
Kaarina Aitamurto, senior researcher
Rustam Urinboyev, senior researcher
Sherzod Eraliev, post-doctoral researcher