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Economic constraints and social opportunities: participation in informal support networks of Russian urban households


Yakubovich, Valery (1999). Economic constraints and social opportunities: participation in informal support networks of Russian urban households. Moscow: Centre for Comparative Labour Relations Research (ISITO), Moscow.


This paper has been prepared within the framework of a project on 'Household Survival Strategies, Job Creation and New Forms of Employment in Russia', directed by Simon Clarke, Centre for Comparative Labour Studies, University of Warwick, conducted by the Centre for Comparative Labour Relations Research (ISITO), Moscow and funded by the UK Department for International Development. The project was a component part of a wider research programme funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council on 'The restructuring of employment and the formation of a labour market in Russia'.

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) supports policies, programmes and projects to promote international development. DFID provided funds for this study as part of that objective but the views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) alone
How do Russians survive during the ongoing experiment with a transition to market economy when the economy itself is drastically shrinking and even those who have regular jobs are not paid for months or even years? Although this question was intriguing and puzzling at the onset of the Russian socioeconomic reforms, there seems to be no mystery anymore. The generally accepted answer to this question suggests that Russians work in the informal economy, dig their private plots, and rely on help from family and friends. This paper evaluates the accuracy of this conventional wisdom with regard to the role of social support networks in the Russian household economy. It attempts to shed light on four questions. How widespread is the use of family ties and friends? How important is the contribution of social networks to household budgets? Does the participation in such networks depend on the family’s overall economic well-being or is it predetermined by the social opportunities structure, i.e., are those who are involved in particular kinds of ongoing social relationships also engaged in various kinds of economic exchanges, regardless of their personal economic standing?


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Yakubovich, Valery