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State and Society in Small-Town Russia

A Feminist-Ethnographic Inquiry into the Boundaries of Society in the Finnish-Russian Borderland

Kulmala Meri

This book is about state-society interrelations in contemporary Russia. A core question is: How do Russian citizens relate to the Russian state and more broadly to other public-sector institutions? This question is investigated through citizens’ involvement in civil society by asking: What kinds of organizational civic activities occur? How are these organized forms of civic activity interwoven with the state and public structures? Finally, why do particular forms of engagement occur? The book focuses on the local level which is a logical level for citizens to interact with the state. The “messy” conceptions of civil society and state are profoundly analyzed through a bottom-up ethnographic approach. The analysis of citizens’ organization and engagement with the state is grounded on an extensive ethnographic investigation within the Sortavala district. Sortavala’s location on one hand in Russian Karelia, outside big Russian cities, and on the other hand on the border of Finland and the European Union allows a fascinating view from below to a local setting that can be characterized as peripheral and transnational at the same time. “Kulmala’s study makes many important contributions to scholarship on state-society relationships and civil society. The bottom-up ethnographic approach allows her to scrutinize what really goes on among the multiple local actors in different civil society organizations engaging with the state. This approach, coupled with a thorough exploration and understanding of the state (and other macro-) structures, allows the author to demonstrate the role of civil society organizations as agents of social change, despite the many structural and political constraints, and the importance of practical and local work carried out by women and/or Soviet-type organizations.” Laura Assmuth, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Eastern Finland “Kulmala’s work is a real contribution to scholarship in political science, sociology, and Russian studies. Empirically, Kulmala’s decision to focus on a small town is an important aspect of the study. Approximately half of the Russian population lives in small towns and the daily experience of these individuals has been neglected by scholarship that focuses on major urban centers. The author also usefully disaggregates the state by examining the municipal level of government and the effects of the 2006 reform. Finally, rather than looking narrowly at advocacy groups, the author includes welfare-oriented associations, filling a gap in the literature.” Associate Professor of Government Laura A. Henry, Bowdoin College

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  • Julkaisija Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta (Helsingin yliopisto)
    Julkaisuvuosi 2013
    Sivumäärä 334
    Kieli Englanti
    Sarjat Publications of the Department of Political and Economic Studies
    Ulkoasu B5,pehmeäkantinen
    ISBN 9789521090769
    ISSN 1798-9140