Professional Taboos in Russian Political Consultancy

Kazun A.D.,

National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 822971 | ORCID: 0000-0002-9633-2776 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2021.01.11
Rubric: Laboratory

For citation:

Kazun A.D. Professional Taboos in Russian Political Consultancy. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No. 1. P. 157-168. (In Russ.).

The article was written within the framework of the project “Informal practices of organizing and conducting election campaigns in modern Russia” with the support of the Khamovniki Foundation for Social Research.

   Buy a digital version in Polismag


This study examines the ethics of political consultants in Russia using the materials of 73 interviews with election campaigners (political consultants, chiefs of staff, field workers, lawyers, etc.). The study suggests that it is impossible to speak of Russian political consultants as a single community sharing common values. This professional group is heterogeneous and includes people with different perceptions of norms and ethical boundaries. Based on the analysis of the interviews, a classification of political consultants’ professional taboos was developed: universal human morality, ideological orientation, professional orientation, procedural taboos, and legal boundaries. Interestingly, some of the informants used the rhetoric of justification when talking about ethical restrictions. The existence of certain standards of behavior was justified by the fact that the informant was somehow different from the “correct” political consultants (professional biography, belief system, etc.). The absence of ethical boundaries in several cases could be interpreted as a norm and a sign of professionalism, as opposed to as an anomaly. 

political strategists, political consultants, professional ethics, elections, election campaign.

   Buy a digital version in Polismag

Abbott A. 1983. Professional Ethics. – American Journal of Sociology. Vol. 88. No. 5. P. 855-885.

Achen C. H., Bartels L. M. 2016. Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Bagg S., Tranvik I. 2019. An Adversarial Ethics for Campaigns and Elections. – Perspectives on Politics. Vol. 17. No. 4. P. 973-987.

Barber B. 1963. Some Problems in the Sociology of the Professions. – Daedalus. Vol. 92. No. 4. P. 669-688.

Farrell D., Kolodny R., Medvic S. 2001. Parties and Campaign Professionals in a Digital Age: Political Consultants in the United States and Their Counterparts Overseas. – The International Journal of Press/Politics. Vol. 6. No. 4. P. 11-30.

Grossmann M. 2009. Going Pro? Political Campaign Consulting and the Professional Model. – Journal of Political Marketing. Vol. 8. No. 2. P. 81-104.

Hall R. 1968. Professionalization and Bureaucratization. – American Sociological Review. Vol. 33. No. 1. P. 92-104.

Medvic S.K. 2001. Political Consultants in U.S. Congressional Elections. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

Nelson C.J., Dulio D.A., Medvic S.K. 2002. Shades of Gray: Perspectives on Campaign Ethics. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

Nyhan B., Montgomery J. 2015. Connecting the Candidates: Consultant Networks and the Diffusion of Campaign Strategy in American Congressional Elections. – American Journal of Political Science. Vol. 59. No. 2. P. 292-308.

Parsons T. 1968. Professions. – International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Ed. by D. Sills. New York: The Macmillan Company & The Free Press.

Scammell M. 1998. The Wisdom of the War Room: U.S. Campaigning and Americanization. – Media, Culture & Society. Vol. 20. No. 2. P. 251-275.

Voakes P.S. 1997. Social Influences on Journalists’ Decision Making in Ethical Situations. – Journal of Mass Media Ethics. Vol. 12. No. 1. P. 18-35.


Abramov R.N. 2005. Corporate Social Responsibility as an Example of Organizational Isomorphism under the Conditions of Globalization. – The Journal of Social Policy Studies. No. 3. P. 327-347. (In Russ.) URL: (accessed 20.11.2020).

Antonova V.K. 2016. Civil Servants’ Professionalization Specifics in the Context of Current Reforms in Russia. – Sociological Studies. No. 2. P. 76-82. (In Russ.)

Bessudnov A.P. 2009. Occupational Status in Contemporary Russia. – Universe of Russia. No. 2. P. 89-115. (In Russ.) URL: (accessed 20.11.2020).

Chernova Z., Shpakovskaya L. 2016. The Professionalization of Parenthood: Between Common Sense and Expert Knowledge. – The Journal of Social Policy Studies. No. 4. P. 521-534. (In Russ.) URL: (accessed 20.11.2020).

Yarskaya-Smirnova E.R. 2001. Professionalization of Social Work in Russia. – Sociological Studies. No. 5. P. 86-95. (In Russ.)

Marshall T. 2010. The Recent History of Professionalism with Regard to Social Structure and Social Policy. – The Journal of Social Policy Studies. No. 1. P. 105-124. (In Russ.) URL: (accessed 20.11.2020).

Matveychev O.A. 2018. Russian Market of Political Technologies: Stages of Formation and Prospects of Development. – Polis. Political Studies. No. 2. P. 82-99. (In Russ.)

Socio-Psychological Portrait of an Engineer. 1977. Ed. by V.A. Yadov. Moscow. (In Russ.) 

Content No. 1, 2021

See also:

Solovey V.D.,
Digital Mythology and Donald Trump Electoral Campaign. – Polis. Political Studies. 2017. No5

Editorial Preface.,
The 10th anniversary of political science in Russia. – Polis. Political Studies. 1999. No6

Sutor B.,
Political Ethics. – Polis. Political Studies. 1993. No1

Gelman V.Ya., Lankina T.V.,
Political Diffusions under the Conditions of a Spatially Mixed Regime: Institution-building and Election of City Mayors in Russia. – Polis. Political Studies. 2007. No6

Vasilyev V.I.,
Federalism and Election System in FRG. – Polis. Political Studies. 1995. No4



   2020      2019      2018      2017      2016   
   2015      2014      2013      2012      2011   
   2010      2009      2008      2007      2006   
   2005      2004      2003      2002      2001   
   2000      1999      1998      1997      1996   
   1995      1994      1993      1992      1991