Linda J. Cook Professor of Political Science, Professor of Slavic Studies

Linda J. Cook received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1985. She is currently a professor in the political science department at Brown University, and associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. She has authored "The Soviet Social Contract and Why it Failed" (Harvard, 1993), "Postcommunist Welfare States: Reform Politics in Russia and Eastern Europe," (Cornell, 2007).  In 2015 Cook was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for research in the Russian Federation for her current book project, "Political Economies of Health Care in Russia's Fragmented Welfare State."

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work


Postcommunist Welfare States:  Reform Politics in Russia and Eastern Europe (Ithaca:  Cornell University Press, 2007; Paperback 2013)

The Soviet Social Contract and Why It Failed:  Welfare Policy and Workers’ Politics from Brezhnev to  Yeltsin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993)

 Left Parties and Social Policy in Postcommunist Europe (with Mitchell Orenstein and Marilyn Rueschemeyer, eds.,  (Westview, 1999)

Labor and Liberalization: Trade Unions in the New Russia  (New York: 20th Century Fund, 1997)

with Marsha Pripstein, eds. Labor and Privatization:  A Global Look at Responses And Consequences (Edward Elgar, 2002)

Refereed Journal Articles 


Refereed Journal Articles

“Реформы социальной сферы в странах Восточной Европы и бывшем СССР,” (“Reform of the Welfare State in Eastern Europe and Russia,”) in Voprosy gosudarstvennogo i Munitsiplann’nogo Upravlenie (Issues of State and Municipal Administration), Translated by Elena Vinogradova, Higher School of Economics, No. 2,  2014, Higher School of Economics, Moscow.

“Labor Relations in Russia:  Moving to a “Market Social Contract?” (with Elena Vinogradova and  Irina Kozina  Problems of Post-communism, (forthcoming, spring 2015)

“Russian Labor:  Quiescence and Conflict” (with Irina Kozina and Elena Vinogradova, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 45, nos. 3 & 4, 2012.

“More Rights, Less Power: Labor Standards and Labor Markets in East European Postcommunist  States,” Studies in Comparative International Development, vol. 45, no. 2, June, 2010.

 “Negotiating Welfare in Postcommunist States,” Comparative Politics, vol. 40, no. 1, October, 2007, 41-62.

“NGOs and Social Policy-Making in Russia’s Regions” (with Elena Vinogradova) Problems of Post-Communism,” vol. 53, no. 5, Sept.-Oct., 2006, 28-41.

“The Russian Welfare State:  Obstacles to Restructuring,” Post-Soviet Affairs, vol. 16, No. 4 (Oct.- Dec., 2000:) 355-378.

“Exit and Voice in Russian Managers’ Privatization Strategies,” Communist Economies and Economic Transformation, vol. 7, no. 4, 1995. (with Vladimir Gimpelson)

“Workers in the Russian Federation:  Responses to the Post-communist Transition, 1989-1993,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 28, no. 1, March, 1995

“Conclusion:  Workers in Post-communist Poland, Russia, and Ukraine,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 28, no. 1, March, 1995.

“Labor Unions in Post-Communist Countries,” Problems of Post-Communism, vol. 42, no. 2, March-April, 1995

“Brezhnev’s ‘Social Contract’ and Gorbachev’s Reforms,” Soviet Studies, vol. 44, no. 3, 1992: 356-376

"The Politics of Soviet Enterprise Insolvency," Soviet Union/Union Sovietique, vol. 17, No. 3,1990, 235-258.

“Party and Workers in the Soviet First Five-Year Plan: The Transition from Political Mobilization to Administrative Control,” Russian History, vol. 15, no 2-4, 1988, 227-252.


Peer-Reviewed Publications (selected)

  ”’Spontaneous Privatization’ and its Political Consequences in Russia’s Postcommunist Health  Sector,” in Melani Cammett and Lauren  M. McLean, eds., The Politics of Non-state

         Social Welfare (Cornell University Press, 2014)

“Political Clientelism and Social Policy:  The Postcommunist Experience,” in  Political Clientelism, Social Policy, and the Quality of Democracy,  Larry Diamond and Diego Abente-Brun, eds.

      (Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming, 2014

“Constraints on Universal Health Care in the Russian Federation:  Inequality, Informality, and theFailures of Mandatory Medical Insurance Reforms” (Geneva, UNRISD, forthcoming)

“Welfare State Development,” Oxford Bibliographies On-Line : Political Science (Rick Valelly,Editor, 2011) at:

“Russian Labor,” Handbook of Russian Politics and Society, Graeme Gill, ed. (Routledge, 2011)

"Eastern Europe and Russia,” Chap. 46 in The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare States, FrancesCastles, Stephan Leibfried, Jane Lewis, Herbert Obinger, and Christopher Pierson, eds.

       pp. 671-688. (Oxford University Press, 2010)

“Russia’s Welfare Regime:  the Shift Toward Statism,” chap. 2 in Maija Jappinen, Meri Kulmala and Aino Saarinen, eds.,  Gazing at Welfare, Gender, and Agency in Post- socialist Countries

      (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010)

“Women in the Russian State Duma,” (with Carol Nechemias) in Marilyn Rueschemeyer and Sharon Wolchik, eds., Women in Power in Postcommunist Parliaments (Indiana University Press

     with the Wilson Center for Scholars, 2009)



research overview

Linda Cook's main research interests are in the comparative politics of the Russian Federation, Eastern Europe and Eurasia, and electoral-authoritarian regimes cross-regionally. Her research focuses on domestic and international politics of welfare states and their transformation; the relationship between democratization and social welfare; comparative political representation of labor and women; NGOs, and the politics of health and welfare in contemporary electoral-authoritarian regimes.

research statement

My research is concerned with the politics, welfare and political representation in Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia, and in electoral-authoritarian regimes cross-regionally. My previous work provides an in-depth analysis of the Soviet-era welfare state, its structure and political logic. Later research on comparative post-communist welfare states focuses on how welfare state change was initiated and negotiated politically, and how it has been influenced by both domestic politics and international institutions and policy constructs. It draws on comparative welfare state literature to construct a framework for analysis of the postcommunist cases, and is based on extensive study of primary sources and interviews in the East European region. I have also conducted collaborative research with Russian colleagues on social sector non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Russian regions and their roles in building civil society and influencing social policy.

A second focus of my research is on labor, unions, and labor politics, including a monograph on labor in the Russian transition, and a later project on the effects of globalization on labor rights and regimes in postcommunist states. This research looks comparatively at the impacts of international or external organizations (i.e., the European Union, ILO, IFIs, MNC's) on the development of labor rights in several post-Soviet and East European states, and at movement toward flexibilization of work rules and regimes. It forms part of a collaborative project sponsored by the Watson Institute's Political Economy program.

A third research area is representation of women and women's interests in politics. A published study on women in the Russian Duma (legislature) focuses on the organization of women deputies, their links with societal interests and organizations, and their perceptions of their roles and responsibilities as representative, and is based on extensive interviews with current and former Duma deputies. I am currently working on a research project that looks at Russian women's understanding of their legal rights in labor relations.

Postcommunist political parties and representative institutions have also been a focus of my work, resulting in a collaborative study of left parties and social policy in postcommunist Europe, and a study of political clientelism in Eastern Europe in comparative context. Numerous articles and book chapters have also come out of these various strands of my research interests.

My current research projects are explained in the "Current Projects" section of this profile.

funded research

 Team Leader for Research Project, “Social Policy in the Russian Federation:  Directions, Policy Processes,  Outcomes, Prospects, funded by United Nations Research Institute for Social               Development  Project “New Directions in Social Policy:  Alternatives from the for the Global South”  ($40,000)   

Fellowship, Aleksanteri Institute, Finnish Centre for Russian and East European Studies, Univ. of Helsinki, Finland, 2011-12

Co-recipient, COE Faculty Research Grant, Brown University, "States,NGOs and Access to Health Care in Postcommunist States" 2011-12

National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, principal investigator for research grant, "The Formulation of Social Policy in Russia's Regions: Is There Evidence of Civil Society's Participation?" (2003-2004; $23,000)

National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, principal investigator for research grant, "Reforming the Safety Net? The Politics of Social Welfare in the Russian Federation" (1999-2000)

Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, Wilson Center, Washington, D.C., short-term research grant ($3,000, spring 2000; $3,000, summer 1987)

Salomon Faculty Research Award, Brown University, for project, "The Politics of Social Welfare in the Russian Federation" (1998-1999)

Social Science Research Council, Joint Committee on the Soviet Union and its Successor States, faculty professional development grant (1994-1995)

National Council for Soviet and East European Research, co-prinicipal investigator in collaborative study, "Working Class Responses to the Post-Socialist Transition in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Republics" (1992-1993)

International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), short-term travel grants for research trips to Moscow (1992, 1998, 2001)

IREX Young Scholar, Soviet Union Exchange, year in residence at Moscow and Leningrad State Universities for dissertation research (1981-1982)