Социальные неравенства и социальная политика в современной России
On the basis of in-depth case studies of four Russian regions, Kirov and Voronezh oblasts and Krasnoyarsk and Perm' krais, the trade-offs among social and economic policy at the regional level in Russia are examined. All four regional governments seek to develop entrepreneurship while preserving social welfare obligations and improving compensation in the public sector. Richer regions have a greater ability to reconcile social commitments with the promotion of business. Regions differ in their development strategies, some placing greater emphasis on indigenous business development and others seeking to attract federal or foreign investment. Governors have considerable discretion in choosing their strategy so long as they meet basic performance demands set by the federal government such as ensuring good results for the United Russia party. In all four regions, governments consult actively with local business associations whereas organized labor is weak. However, the absence of effective institutions to enforce commitments undertaken by government and its social partners undermines regional capacity to use social policy as a basis for long-term economic development.
In this chapter we aim to examine the discourses created and reproduced through the interaction between single mothers and representatives of social services. The analysis is based on twenty-six interviews with single mothers and six interviews with social workers conducted in 2001–2003, and six interviews with single mothers and three with social workers conducted in 2006 in the Saratov region in Russia, as well as official documents and the publications of other researchers. In our interviews with mothers, we focused on the issues of familial well-being and interactions with social services, while social workers were asked to discuss their experiences with clients. A short overview of statistics and social policy terminology prefaces a discussion of how mother-headed families and state social policy interrelate and affect each other. The subsequent sections contain analysis of the interviews with single mothers who, as the heads of low-income households, interact with the social service system. The analysis demonstrates that single mothers are frustrated by inadequate assistance and the impossibility of improving their life situations. The discussion goes on to show that social workers, who are used to interpreting complex issues in the life situations of single mothers as individual psychological peculiarities, tend to blame the victim, thus ignoring important social conditions and imposing on women a responsibility for problems that are societal in origin.
Several approaches to the concept of fatherhood present in Western sociological tradition are analyzed and compared: biological determinism, social constructivism and biosocial theory. The problematics of fatherhood and men’s parental practices is marginalized in modern Russian social research devoted to family and this fact makes the traditional inequality in family relations, when the father’s role is considered secondary compared to that of mother, even stronger. However, in Western critical men’s studies several stages can be outlined: the development of “sex roles” paradigm (biological determinism), the emergence of the hegemonic masculinity concept, inter-disciplinary stage (biosocial theory). According to the approach of biological determinism, the role of a father is that of the patriarch, he continues the family line and serves as a model for his ascendants. Social constructivism looks into man’s functions in the family from the point of view of masculine pressure and establishing hegemony over a woman and children. Biosocial theory aims to unite the biological determinacy of fatherhood with social, cultural and personal context. It is shown that these approaches are directly connected with the level of the society development, marriage and family perceptions, the level of egality of gender order.