“New” Poverty in Russia After Socialism

Svetlana Yaroshenko


This paper aims to identify what is special about the “new poverty” that has emerged in Russia as a result of the liberal reforms of the 1990s. It discusses perceptions of the phenomenon, outlines its conditions and limits, and explains how it is reproduced. The paper employs an extended case method, including a detailed ethnographic case study and local surveys carried out between 1998 and 2008. I find that existing social policies are ill adapted to forms of poverty that did not exist in the USSR: the extreme poor are largely excluded from the system of state support, which fails to acknowledge those who do not fit traditional categories of poor. Blue-collar workers lacking employment stability and male, including single-father, households are at a higher risk of extreme and permanent impoverishment. Thus “new” poverty is permanent poverty, resulting from multiple forms of social exclusion based on class and aggravated by gendered policies of identifying those most in need. In Russian, extensive summary in English.

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