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Article

“They should cook borsch, chop wood…”: Contemporary Images of Social Work in the Context of Welfare Policy Reforms in Russia’s Print Media

Iarskaia-Smirnova E. R., Kononenko R. V., Kosova O., Yarskaya V.

This article traces the main features of social work in contemporary Russian printed media in the context of social policy reforms and social work services transformation from 1994 to 2018. This article analyses the mass media portrayal of social work within the broader picture of the Russian social policy, taking into account the interplay of the macro-context of the welfare reforms, on the one hand, and the mezzo-context of the profession, on the other.  The analysis of social work images reveals changing professional status and societal beliefs concerning this occupation against the background of welfare policy reforms. This analysis gives an important perspective on the transformation of social work in Russia and poses the broader questions of how social policy affects the professional status of social work and how the profession itself through the media images is becoming a political issue; a care-and-control tool called to challenge or retain societal stability. In addition, this study contributes to research on the rise of non-governmental participation in social work in the Russian regions, where there has been a long history of the state monopolizing social service provision