Steve Crowley

  • Professor of Politics


  • BA, Hamilton College, 1982
  • PhD, University Michigan Ann Arbor, 1993


Stephen Crowley, professor and chair of the Department of Politics, is a scholar of the politics of Russia and Eastern Europe, with a focus on labor and the political economy of postcommunist transformations. His teaching centers on Russia and Eastern Europe, peace and conflict studies, revolutions, and globalization.

His forthcoming book, Putin’s Labor Dilemma: Russian Politics between Stability and Stagnation (Cornell University Press) examines the specter of looming labor and social unrest as Russia’s leaders contemplate how to rejuvenate Russia’s struggling economy. It explores the legacy of Russia’s many “monotowns”—one-factory cities and towns left from the Soviet era, many of which are straining to stay afloat with the potential for labor protest that can become quickly politicized.

Putin’s legitimacy has rested for some time on economic growth and projecting “stability’’ after Russia’s tumultuous 1990s, and more recently on heightening populist class divisions between the cosmopolitan “middle class” in Moscow and St. Petersburg and the more nationalist working class in Russia’s industrial heartland.

Yet given slower economic growth such a legitimation strategy is becoming increasingly unsustainable: The Russian leadership is faced with the dilemma of tolerating declining living standards, which promises to increase protest from a core part of its political base, or engaging in painful structural reforms, which promises the same. Initial findings from this project have been published in Post-Soviet Affairs , East European Politics & Societies , Problems of Post-Communism .

Working Through the Past: Labor and Authoritarian Legacies in Comparative Perspective (coedited with Teri Caraway and Maria Lorena Cook; Cornell University Press, 2015) argues that labor in many settings confronts not only the challenges of economic globalization, but also legacies from the authoritarian past. The volume is the first comparative study of the impact of such legacies on new democracies in Asia, Latin America, and post-Communist Europe.

Previous publications include Hot Coal, Cold Steel: Russian and Ukrainian Workers From the End of the Soviet Union to the Post-Communist Transformations (University of Michigan Press, 1997), runner-up for the AAASS Marshall Shulman Prize; the coedited volume Workers after Workers’ States: Labor and Politics in Postcommunist Eastern Europe , (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001). Other articles have appeared in journals such as World Politics, Demokratizatsiya, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Politics & Society, as well as a number of collected volumes.

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Crowley was recently a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University’s Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, and at the Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki.

His research has been funded in recent years by grants from American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Kennan Institute, and the Collegium Budapest/Institute for Advanced Study.

Popular writings have appeared in the Guardian , the Washington Post , Newsweek, and Foreign Affairs .


Stephen Crowley Gives Talk, Records Podcast

February 11, 2020

Professor of Politics Stephen Crowley gave a talk on his research and recorded a podcast at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Russian & East European Studies.

Stephen Crowley Writes Op-Ed

November 25, 2019

Professor of Politics Stephen Crowley wrote an op-ed in the Plain Dealer calling on Senator Rob Portman of Ohio to push back against President Trump's policy on Ukraine to instead promote a peace process in the region.

Stephen Crowley Interviewed

July 31, 2018

Stephen Crowley, professor of politics, was interviewed for WCPN’s The Sound of Ideas and WVIZ’s Ideas to provide perspective on a summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Stephen Crowley Authors Op-Ed

March 10, 2017

Professor of Politics Stephen Crowley’s opinion piece “To Resist Trump, Divide His Supporters” appeared on Truthout.

Stephen Crowley Selected as Fellow

April 29, 2016

Stephen Crowley, professor of politics, chair of Russian and eastern European Studies, and chair of peace and conflict studies, has been named a Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars fellow. Crowley’s fellowship begins in September and continues through May 2017.

Stephen Crowley Publishes

February 11, 2016

Stephen Crowley, professor of politics, chair of Russian & east European studies, and chair of peace & conflict studies, has co-written the article “Is Putin about to face a ‘colored revolution’?” Co-written by Irina Olimpieva, the article was published in The Washington Post.

Steve Crowley Discusses Ukraine

March 19, 2014

Professor of Politics Stephen Crowley has given two radio interviews recently on the situation in Ukraine. On March 19, he discussed developments in that country on WEOL’s Morning Show When asked if his knowledge of the region had allowed him to sense a crisis was coming, Crowley said, “I don’t think anybody predicted exactly what would happen in Ukraine. But there’s always been tension, particularly centered around Crimea, between Russia and Ukraine.” Noting that Crimea had long been a part of Russia and that its populace is overwhelmingly Russian speaking and Russian oriented, Crowley said “Putin and Russia have seen Crimea as a special case” and that he doesn’t expect Russia will press militarily any further into Ukraine. Crowley’s entire interview is archived on the WEOL website. On February 26, Crowley joined two other panelists for a segment on WCPN’s The Sound of Ideas titled “What Next in Ukraine,” which can be accessed on WCPN’s website.”

Steve Crowley Talks Sochi with WCPN

February 19, 2014

Cleveland NPR affiliate WCPN invited Professor of Russian and Eastern European Studies Steve Crowley to participate in a conversation about the political and security issues of the 13th Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. The program aired Monday, February 10, and is available for listening on the WCPN website.