Gazing at Welfare, Gender and Agency in Post-socialist Countries
The volume presents a new and unique view of welfare in Russia and Eastern European countries from an intersectional perspective of welfare, gender and agency. Since the collapse of socialism, the welfare structures of the post-socialist states have experienced large and rapid changes. The discussions on the reforming welfare models serve as the integrating theme for the volume. The authors discuss past and current developments and make comparisons in time and space between the early 1990s and late 2000s and between post-socialist and transitional countries. Welfare and political democratization are analyzed on the one hand as structures and processes and on the other hand as cultural meanings and through agency, which all are strongly gendered. Macro-level analyses and in-depth case studies by scholars from different countries and disciplines provide a wide and multilayered picture of welfare developments and gendered practices of social services, caregiving and civic activism, among others. Special attention is given to research methodologies, particularly on fieldwork and micro-level understanding of the related topics. The contributors come from social and political sciences and from both former socialist and 'Western' countries from Russia and Slovenia as well as the US, the UK, Germany and Finland.
Apart from the public sphere and the norms set by society, the private sphere plays an important role in the lives of the disabled, including the personal experience of disability at a micro level: in their families, everyday routines and romantic relationships. In this chapter, issues of family structure are considered using a narrative analysis of interviews with women who use wheelchairs. Various cultural, social, economic and political determinants effect the formation of certain types of family structure and attitudes towards family life. At the same time, they interrelate with biographical factors that reinforce or weaken the limits of freedom and private life. Using narrative analysis, I demonstrate what role family plays in constructing the identity of a person with a disability, and how family members act as coauthors of individual biographies. This can be seen in those dilemmas of family life associated with the feelings, sexuality and emotional stability at the micro-level of the life experience and identification of women with disabilities.