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Essays on family life and poverty in Russia

Citation

Cartwright, Kimberly Diane (1996). Essays on family life and poverty in Russia. Master's thesis / Doctoral dissertation.

Abstract

This dissertation presents anthropological and sociological perspectives on poverty in Russia. The essays approach the study of poverty through an analysis of Russian family and social life under socialism and during the economic transition and how these customs and practices influence household welfare. The essays propose ways of rethinking poverty concepts and definitions that are appropriate to Russia. The research setting is Voronezh, Russia, a provincial city in the Central Black Earth Region. The data which inform the dissertation are participant observation, in-depth interviews, and a survey of married and single mothers with small children (n = 709). Through an ethnographic portrayal of market and housing conditions, the first essay shows how aspects of everyday life are affected by the low level of economic development and the overhauling of the Soviet system. The second essay focuses on official rhetoric about economic and social conditions under socialism and communism. Expert views about what society should be like under communism are considered in a discussion about the philosophical underpinnings and technical construction of the poverty line. The divergence between socialist ideology and practical reality is revealed in the third essay which discusses trends in poverty in Soviet and post-Soviet society. Drawing from the contextual evidence presented earlier, the fourth essay addresses poverty measurement issues specific to Russia, and introduces alternative definitions of poverty which account for non-cash sources of income, such as in-kind transfers and private plot produce. When these non-cash items are taken into account, the incidence of poverty is substantially lower. This suggests that conventional income and expenditure measures severely underestimate a household's welfare level in Russia. For single mother families, however, the risk of poverty does not fall, but stays relatively constant under the revised measures. Lack of research on the pathways leading to single motherhood leaves unspecified the mechanisms between single motherhood and poverty in Russia. The final essay employs an event history model to examine the inter-relationships between preunion conceptions, marriage, and out-of-wedlock childbearing. The data which inform the dissertation are participant observation, in-depth interviews, and a survey of married and single mothers with small children (n = 709).

Reference Type

Thesis

Year Published

1996

Author(s)

Cartwright, Kimberly Diane