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Article

‘Foreign agents’ in the field of social policy research: The demise of civil liberties and academic freedom in contemporary Russia

Journal of European Social Policy. 2015. Vol. 25. No. 4. P. 359-365.

Independent scholarship in the Russian social sciences has received significant support from the West in the 1990s, but since 2000, it has faced increasing difficulties. In this overview, the authors describe the development of the non-profit sector and its relationship with academia from the founding of the Soviet state to today, paying particular attention to the social sciences and social policy analysis. The survival of many independent research facilities established over the last decades is threatened by a government deeply suspicious of Western influence.   Central and Eastern European countries have become an important part of the academic discourse, empirically and theoretically. However, this integration is threatened by the regression into authoritarianism that is currently taking place in Russia. Against this background, the editors of JESP asked us to explain this policy change from a historical perspective in order to inform the international social policy community that the social sciences in Russia and social policy analysis in particular can no longer operate in a climate of open dialogue and civil liberty. Below we discuss the complex trajectory of civil society development in Russia. We claim that international philanthropies played an important role in the development of the social sciences, social policy studies and civil society and that the restrictions of such support would negatively affect them all.