What is it about?

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Russian and Ukrainian households have experienced periods of economic marginalization. The role of this paper is to examine these social costs of transition, noting that official reporting underestimates the true scale of the problem, and the household responses to these costs.The discussions are based on both qualitative and quantitative research undertaken in numerous locations in Russia and Ukraine.

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Why is it important?

One of the paper’s key arguments is that informal economic practices are crucial to many households and that a broad spectrum of coping tactics is employed.These tactics often reveal the unequal power relations that run through state–society and worker– employee relations and help detail the high levels of corruption that exist in post-Soviet societies. Furthermore, these tactics are entwined in the locations within which they take place and rely on high levels of social capital, ensuring that households would rather remain in their current location than migrate to cheaper regions.The paper concludes on a rather pessimistic note, arguing that, although Russian and Ukrainian households have ‘coped’ over the 20 years since the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the future poses new challenges.These include an ageing population, the increasing use of credit (default on which can lead to eviction) and the global recession, which leads to a decrease in opportunities in the informal sphere.

Perspectives

Examines the coping of households in transition societies

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Coping with the social costs of ‘transition’: Everyday life in post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine, European Urban and Regional Studies, March 2010, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0969776409356158.
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