The Politics of Poverty in Contemporary Russia: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Politics of Poverty in Contemporary Russia

1st Edition

By Ann-Mari Sätre


184 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780815347323
pub: 2018-12-11
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This book provides an overview of poverty and well-being in Russia. Increasing poverty rates during the 1990s were followed by greater attention to social policies in the 2000s and increased efforts to engage people in socially oriented NGOs and ‘encourage’ them to contribute to the fulfillment of social aims. What impact did these developments have on the prevalence of poverty in contemporary Russian society?

Tracing continuities from the Soviet system alongside recent developments such as the falling price of oil, economic sanctions, and changes in directions of social policy, this book explores the impact of poverty, inequality and social programmes. The author examines the agency of people living in poverty and those engaged in social policy, using official statistics, survey data and interviews from four Russian regions to explain the reasons and consequences of poverty and people’s attempts to get out of it.

The approach is based on institutional theory, complemented by Amartya Sen’s capability approach highlighting the importance of agency and an institutional framework as a means for change. A timely book that will be of interest to students of contemporary Russian politics as well as those engaged in social policy issues.


"Drawing on a multitude of in-depth interviews and surveys with ordinary people, front-line social workers and local officials, Sätre explains what it is like to be poor in Russian society, how and why some people prosper, while others struggle and many fall into poverty traps. The author considers official poverty statistics but focuses on Sen’s more sophisticated capability approach, showing how access to human capital, welfare rights and social relationships influence opportunity and poverty. The book’s greatest strength is that it brings the reader into little-known towns, villages and provincial cities whose residents, some interviewed at several points from 2002 to 2017, give vivid accounts of how Russia’s transformation has affected the welfare of their families and communities." - Linda J. Cook, Professor of Political Science, Brown University, USA.

"Ann-Mari Sätre’s work always gives us a valuable insight into the everyday lives of people in Russia away from the mainstream and reminds us that there is more to Russian politics than what goes on in the kremlin. In this book, Sätre has surpassed herself, combining a careful analysis of official and independently-sourced macro-data on poverty with detailed life-stories of individuals inhabiting different niches in the social and geographic peripheries. Through the stories that Ann-Mari has collected from the poor and the not-so-poor and the people at the local level who try to help them in a number of Russia’s regions over the past decade, we learn how multi-faceted is the experience of poverty in the Russia of the 21st century and how variable the human responses to it. The Politics of Poverty in Contemporary Russia, is far more than a standard text on the production and reproduction of poverty, in a very real and immediate way it conveys the precarity of people living on the edge, where a single negative life event or a helping hand from a nascent civil society organisation can make the difference between the spiralling downwards into ever deepening poverty or the achievement of some degree of stability or, even, hope." - Judith Pallot, University of Oxford and Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki. President of BASEES.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. On poverty in Russia

3. Causes of poverty

4. State in social policy

5. Social welfare and combatting poverty as a female responsibility

6. The role of civil society organisations in dealing with poverty

7. The Politics of Poverty in Contemporary Russia

About the Author

Ann-Mari Sätre is Associate Professor of Economics and Research Director at IRES Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden. She is specialized in the structure and performance of the Soviet/Russian economy. She is also International partner, at the Centre of Excellence in Russian studies at Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki. Her current research focuses on poverty, local development and women’s work in Russia. She is the author or co-author of four books and close to 50 articles and book chapters on the Soviet/Russian political economy.

About the Series

Studies in Contemporary Russia

Studies in Contemporary Russia
Studies in Contemporary Russia is a series of cutting-edge, contemporary studies. These monographs, joint publications and edited volumes branch out into various disciplines, innovatively combining research methods and theories to approach the core questions of Russian modernisation; how do the dynamics of resources and rules affect the Russian economy and what are the prospects and needs of diversification? What is the impact of the changing state-society relationship? How does the emerging welfare regime work? What is the role of Russia in contemporary international relations? How should we understand the present Russian political system? What is the philosophical background of modernisation as a whole and its Russian version in particular? The variety of opinions on these issues is vast. Some see increasingly less difference between contemporary Russia and the Soviet Union while, at the other extreme, prominent experts regard Russia as a 'more or less' normal European state. At the same time new variants of modernisation are espoused as a result of Russian membership of the global BRIC powers. Combining aspects of Western and Soviet modernisation with some anti-modern or traditional tendencies the Russian case is ideal for probing deeper into the evolving nature of modernisation. Which of the available courses Russia will follow remains an open question, but these trajectories provide the alternatives available for discussion in this ground-breaking and authoritative series. The editor and the editorial board of the series represent the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Russian Studies: Choices of Russian Modernisation.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Services & Welfare
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / Russian & Former Soviet Union