Dr. Svitlana Shcherbak

KHK Junior Fellow 10/22–09/23

Svitlana Shcherbak is a researcher with eighteen years of experience working alongside the research team of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. In 2015, Svitlana was a visiting research professor at the Catholic University of America (Washington, DC). She specializes in political philosophy, discourse-analysis and theory of modernization. Her works focus on relationship between economics and politics, democratization and its distortions (populism, plebiscitary democracy), and political development of post-soviet states. She participated in various research projects, both Ukrainian and international, among them the international study project “Community and Tradition in Global Times” (2018-2019), Annual Seminar of Council for Research in Values and Philosophy “Religion, Reconciliation and Peace: Philosophical Perspectives” (2015, USA), Russian-Ukrainian research project “The Concept of Stability and Justice in Russia and Ukraine: Everyday Life and Ideology” (2006-2007). She also has experience of field research in political sciences.


‘Modernization’ in Ideological Discourses of Post-Soviet States: The Case of Russia and Ukraine.

This work studies how modernization became a significant part of politics in post-Soviet countries and influenced reforms and societal evolution in Russia and Ukraine after the collapse of the USSR. The concept of modernization itself has evolved significantly since the middle of the twentieth century when the theory of modernization was formulated. Initially, the modernization hypothesis was based on presumptions that economic development leads to income equalization and the creation of a broad middle class. My analysis suggests that empirical surveys tend to confirm the relationship between economic development and democracy. However, the modernization hypothesis was formulated in the mid-twentieth century in the midst of specific economic and socio-political conditions. Since then, both societies and representations of their development have changed. Current research disregards these transformations; therefore, I aim to fill the gap with this work. It is important to emphasize how the neo-liberal turn changed representations of economic development and democracy because these changes had a great impact on the reforms carried out in post-Soviet countries. This work reveals how economic modernization resulted in the transformation of the political sphere in Russia and Ukraine.

The second part of a study is devoted to questions about anthropological basis for the impact of ideological discourses on broad masses. It relies on the concept of life world of A. Schutz, the morphological approach of M. Frieden, and an ideological discourse analysis. Exposure to ideological influence is treated as a result of the fundamental opacity of the social world, which has to be constantly completed. The completion of opaque areas and connections occurs through social imagination, which fuses our personal experience with those discursive means of understanding the social world that our environment gives us.

Publications (selection)

Kiryukhin, Denys & Svitlana Shcherbak. 2022. The People, Values and the State: How Vladimir Putin’s Views on Ideology Evolved. In Studia Politica. Romanian Political Science Review, vol. XXII: pp. 9-32.

Shcherbak, Svitlana. 2021. Populism in Global Times: The Revival of Community. In: Community and Traditionin Global Times, ed. by D. Kiryukhin. Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change Series IVA. Eastern and Central European Philosophical Studies, vol. 59. Washington, DC: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, pp. 11-41.

Shcherbak, Svitlana. 2021. Max Weber and the Modern Plebiscitary Democracy: Weber’s legacy: at the crossroads of traditions. In Filosofska Dumka, (1): pp. 135-148. https://doi.org/10.15407/fd2021.01.135 (In Ukraine)

Shcherbak, Svitlana. 2018. Modernization Hypothesis and Neoliberalism (in Russian). In The RussianSociological Review, 17(3): pp. 291-328.Shcherbak, Svitlana. 2018. Demodernization or the Internal Tensions of Modernity? (in Russian). In Ideology and Politics, 1(9): pp. 17-78