Embodying a state vision of how civil society ought to function and be designed by the authorities, Public Chambers in Russia have been criticized as means of state control. This state dominance is the starting point in this article, which asks what room to manoeuvre a regional Public Chamber has. Drawing upon fieldwork this article examines how members and local observers of the Public Chamber give meaning to this activity. The analysis assesses the role of state dominance, discussion of routines and responses to local demands, and concludes that these incremental developments form civil society in Russia.

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