From social contract to the market of social services: routes and resources for social work professionalization
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.
In this issue we present a range of papers about current issues and developments in social work and welfare in Russia. In the Soviet era official state policy did not recognise the existence of social problems so social work was ‘not needed’ in the USSR, a situation which existed to varying degrees in other countries under state socialism (Iarskaia-Smirnova, 2013). The disciplines of sociology and psychology (which could form a basis for critical thinking and professional interventions) were eliminated from university curricula, except in forms which accorded with the dominant political view, and dissent was repressed. There have been major changes in political thinking, societal attitudes and welfare developments since perestroika started in 1985, and particularly since 1991 when the Soviet Union was dissolved, Russia then became open to relationships with western powers and capitalist economic thinking. However, Russia remains a considerable independent power with a distinct history and culture. In this editorial we give a brief overview of the historical and other contextual factors which are informing the particular nature and direction of current developments, some aspects of which are described in the articles.
Using the cross-country ESS (2008) data file, the author explores welfare attitudes of population of European countries. The paper argues that expectations associated with the social policy and willingness to accept higher taxation in order to receive more benefits as well as the gap between these two depend on institutional characteristics of the countries. Poor institutions feed corruption and fiscal illusion, therefore generating misperceptions and free rider behavior.
In the article there is analyzed modern stage and value of sphere of services in contemporary economics. There are reported main approaches to designing integrated theory of services. The special attention is paid to social services. It is proposed a new complex approach to the definition of social service as an object of managerial impact.
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.
This volume intends to fill the gap in the range of publications about the post-transition social housing policy developments in Central and Eastern Europe by delivering critical evaluations about the past two decades of developments in selected countries’ social housing sectors, and showing what conditions have decisively impacted these processes.
Contributors depict the different paths the countries have taken by reviewing the policy changes, the conditions institutions work within, and the solutions that were selected to answer the housing needs of vulnerable households. They discuss whether the differences among the countries have emerged due to the time lag caused by belated reforms in selected countries, or whether any of the disparities can be attributed to differences inherited from Soviet times. Since some of the countries have recently become member states of the European Union, the volume also explores whether there were any convergence trends in the policy approaches to social housing that can be attributed to the general changes brought about by the EU accession.