Vladimir Putin as a Political Leader: Challenges to an Adult Developmentally-Informed Analysis of Politics and Political Culture

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Abstract

This article illustrates the extent to which adult development models can be useful tools for contributing to a more adequate, developmentally informed understanding of political leadership. In a case study of Russian president Vladimir Putin, we analyze evidence about important elements of the president’s political identity and worldview, as well as his goals and behavioral strategies that result from them. We draw on extensive published materials, including biographies, interviews, speeches, and public discourse, which are analyzed through the lens of neo-Piagetian theories of adult development, in particular, ego development. On this basis, we identify a leadership profile revolving around a self-protective center of gravity and discuss this finding in methodological regard.

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