Contested urban spaces: cases of Russia and Europe in comparative view
The article is about formal and informal resourses used by actors in local politicsof city. The analysis is based on in depth interviews with local authorities, politicians, businessmen party activists and regional experts in two small towns of the Perm regioncities of the Perm region.
The chapter is based on the outcomes on empirical study in 5 small Russian towns. The process of building coalitions between municipal and business elites is discussed. Several types of coalitions are singled out and analyzed: coalitions with "our people", coalitions with "non-local", electoral coalitions, coalitions for personal gain, coalitions for the sake of the public good.
The transition from Soviet state-planned economy to post-Soviet market economy has been marked by fundamental economic, political and social change in big Russian cities, including Saint Petersburg, including the impetuous transfer of state-owned urban lands into the commercial sector (Tev 2006) and increasing commercialisation of city spaces (Vorobyev and Campbell 2008). Following the logics of neoliberalisation (Harvey 2003), urban spaces progressively turn into investment mediums: the business elites deposit accumulated capital surplus in a growing number of new urban settings,thus making additional profits and coping with financial risks. This leads to a decrease in the proportion of industrial sectors in city economies in favour of the intensifying circulation of capital in real estate operations (Soja 1989).
The article’s authors describe their experiences organizing and conducting field research training of National Research University–Higher School of Economics students over the course of 10 years. Field expeditions are defined by the exposure they give (metropolitan) students to the phenomenology of provincial everyday life. The methodology used is grounded in the principals of qualitative social research. Methods used for the direct (“naive”) observation and description of the features of local public life include case studies, unstructured interviews, and situational conversations with local people. The authors describe five kinds of field expedition practices that they have developed for students: (1) visiting training seminars in addition to the authorized course; (2) field research incorporated into academic study practices; (3) retreats as part of research seminars; (4) summer school expeditions; and (5) sociological research expeditions.
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.