Policy ideas expressed by policy 'outsiders'

If the 'owner-occupation' paradigm predominated among the members of the 'policy network' in the early post-Soviet period, a number of alternative ideas were in circulation among the wider circles of the housing sub-system. The policy thinking of housing specialists, who worked in research organisations and academic institutions but had no direct connection to the policy process in the 1990s, was underlined by what I defined as a mixed housing paradigm.

Housing policy outsiders questioned the feasibility and affordability of mass private housing ownership in Russia (Yasin, 2006: 10-11; Krugliy Stol, 1997; Pchelintsev and Belkina, 1994; Pchelintsev, 1993). They called for greater attention to rented accommodation as an important alternative to private ownership. Elena Shomina, for instance, referred to the housing experience of many European countries where rental and private forms were balanced (Krugliy Stol, 1997). Others argued that many of the policy options used in the Soviet housing, for instance housing cooperatives, could be successfully continued in Russian housing policy as well (ibid.; Pchelintsev, 1993). Such indirect forms of housing ownership, it was argued, could be used as an alternative to condominiums and a way to organise investment in new housing construction (on housing finance more broadly, see Chapter6). Finally, such forms of commercial ownership of housing were put forward by Yevgeniy Yasin as alternatives to 'owner-occupation' and to state-ownership (2006: 10-11).9

Later in this chapter, I will show how these ideas developed and reached greater acclaim in the 2000s. During the 1990s, however, due to the marginal outsider position of their advocates, these ideas remained on the periphery of the policy sub-system and had no policy impact.

In sum, the paradigm of owner-occupation with its two key instruments of housing privatisation and formation of condominiums grew to dominate the policy-making core of the Russian housing policy sub-system, the policy network. And while there existed a substantial disagreement about the aims Russian housing reform should strive towards and alternative proposals were put forward, they, nonetheless, remained outside of the policy process during the 1990s. In terms of the social learning process, it can be said that the reduced competition at the stages of the generation of new ideas and of their acceptance by policy officials contributed to the idiosyncrasy of the social learning process in Russia.

How did this new policy vision by now supported by government housing official and key experts fare during its public discussion and adoption in legislation? To put another way, if the above explains why the paradigm of owner-occupation was supported by Gosstroy and its advisors, the next section asks why would other policy-makers located in Russian government or in parliament put their support behind this paradigm as well.

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