1st Edition

The Politics of Poverty in Contemporary Russia

By Ann-Mari Sätre Copyright 2019
    196 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    196 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    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


    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.

    "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.