"Consumer goods that were scarce and difficult to obtain in the Soviet era have become readily available to urban Russians with enough cash in hand. As a result, social networking activities that were key to the fulfillment fo individuals' and families' consumer needs and desires have become largely obsolete, especially those referred to colloquially in Russian as blat: roughly, the use of social connections to obtain commodities, services or other privileges. In the postsocialist market environment, by contrast, cash -rather than contacts- is the asset most needed in order to gain access to goods and thus to maintain standars of living perceived as decent, repectable, and desirable. At the same time, certain forms of gift-giving as well as reciprocal exchanges of 'favors of access' (Ledeneva, 1998) continue to be integral to the conduct of everyday social life, characterizing friendly interpresonal relations as well as some institutional and private arenas where privileged access and variable qualities of service are at stake."

Jennifer Patico (2002). Chocolate and Cognac: Gifts and the Recognition of Social Worlds in Post-Soviet Russia. Ethnos 67(3), p.346.

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