And They Lived Happily Ever After

And They Lived Happily Ever After: Norms and Everyday Practices of Family and Parenthood in Russia and Eastern Europe

Helene Carlbäck
Yulia Gradskova
Zhanna Kravchenko
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 337
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  • Book Info
    And They Lived Happily Ever After
    Book Description:

    This book takes a comparative perspective on family life and childhood in the past half century in Russia and Eastern Europe, highlighting similarities and differences. It focuses on the problematic domains of the institutions and laws devised to cope with family difficulties, and discusses the social strains created by the transition from communist to post-communist national systems. In addition to the substantial historic analysis, actual challenges are also discussed. The essays examine the changing gender roles, alterations in legal systems, the burdens faced by married and unmarried women who are mothers, the contrasts between government rhteoric and the implementation of policies toward marriage, children and parenthood. By addressing the specifics of welfare politics under the Communist rule and the directions of their transformation in 1990–2000s, this book contributes to the understanding of social institutions and family policies in these countries and the problems of dealing with the socialist past that this region face.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-59-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)
    Helene Carlbäck, Yulia Gradskova and Zhanna Kravchenko

    This book is about various aspects of family life in some countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Russia. It deals with issues of marriage, parental strategies, single motherhood, and absent fatherhood, as well as family policies, legal rules, and popular discourse. Because of the interdisciplinary character of the contributions and the wide spectrum of familyrelated phenomena they analyze, this introduction will attempt to link the chapters by outlining some important parameters of social life in the region and contextualizing the volume within the body of existing research. There is also a description of the overall structure of the volume...

    • CHAPTER 1 Lone Motherhood in Soviet Russia in the Mid-20th Century-In a European Context
      (pp. 25-46)
      Helene Carlbäck

      For a long time the phenomenon of unmarried mothers and children born out of wedlock was excluded from the dominant discourse on motherhood and relations between men and women. According to this discourse, sexuality was to be practiced only within marriage. Still, as early as the late eighteenth century, practices began to change in Europe. The number of extramarital births grew considerably in the following centuries, a change in demographic behavior that scholars predominantly attribute to the vast migration processes taking place in connection with industrialization, urbanization, and the restructuring of agricultural life (Laslett et al., 1980; Therborn, 2004, pp....

    • CHAPTER 2 Family, Divorce, and Comrades’ Courts: Soviet Family and Public Organizations During the Thaw
      (pp. 47-64)
      Elena Zhidkova

      The 1950s and 1960s in the Soviet Union were notable for several social reforms dealing with the education, pension, and welfare systems. Although it witnessed the last Soviet antireligious campaign, Khrushchev’s tenure was called the “Thaw” because of the significant loosening of cultural and social restrictions that took place in these years. It also brought on a debate over a wide range of social problems, from child upbringing to the family crisis (Zubkova, 2008, p. 134). It was a period of liberalization in many senses, and not just politically, since the concept of “private life” was rehabilitated somewhat. On the...

    • CHAPTER 3 A Life of Labor, a Life of Love: Telling the Life of a Young Peasant Mother Facing Collectivization
      (pp. 65-84)
      Ildikó Asztalos Morell

      This was when the cooperative started. I will never forget how horrible it was. I was taken home from the [maternity] hospital, and there they were: the agitators, as we used to call them. One was a Mrs. Bözsi. She was a stern captain. I went to her to cry. I said: “They took me home with my little baby. This is Magdi [her first child]. She is to turn two in July. What shall I do?” “We’ll solve it!” she said. But we could not take her to day-care. There was no crèche. There was nothing we could do....

    • CHAPTER 4 East German Women Going West: Family, Children, and Partners in Life-Experience Literature
      (pp. 85-104)
      Christine Farhan

      “East German women are the losers of German unification” was a common slogan during the 1990s. This motto “conceals the fact that enormous and growing social differentiation exists among East German women” (Bütow, 1997; Dölling, 1998, p. 185). The idea behind the slogan was questioned by many publications, both scholarly and popular, that revealed that East German women showed strength in other ways. Using “a ‘quiet’ and individualized form of resistance, they retain with their ‘own ideas’ (Eigen-sinn), certain orientations of action and values against the constraints or pressures of the adopted West German structures which affect their everyday life”...

    • CHAPTER 5 Why Does Public Policy Implementation Fail? Lithuanian Office of State Benefits for Mothers of Large Families and Single Mothers, 1944–1956
      (pp. 105-122)
      Dalia Leinarte

      The decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet “On Increasing Public Support to Pregnant Mothers, Mothers with Many Children, Single Mothers, Enhancing the Protection of Motherhood and Childhood, Proclaiming ‘Heroine Mother’ as the Title of Highest Distinction, and Establishing the Order of Maternal Glory and the Medal of Motherhood” was introduced on July 8, 1944. It aimed to encourage the growth of the birthrate and thus compensate for the huge loss of life incurred during World War II (Nakachi, 2006, pp. 40–68). Pronatalist politics was not a unique Soviet phenomenon in the postwar period, and such countries...

    • CHAPTER 6 The Latvian Family Experience with Sovietization 1945–1990
      (pp. 123-142)
      Maija Runcis

      According to Soviet propaganda, the care of children and mothers and families was always one of the most important tasks of the Soviet state.¹ As we know from previous research on Soviet family and gender politics, the Soviet state challenged existing “traditional” gender norms. The official explanation of this policy was that it liberated women from patriarchal oppression, but in practice it was reduced to the regulation of motherhood and the stimulation of women’s involvement in productive work. Mothers, especially working mothers, were idealized as rhetorical heroines. At the same time, the propaganda construction of masculinity was almost untouched. The...

    • CHAPTER 7 “Two Children Puts You in the Zone of Social Misery:” Childbearing and Risk Perception among Russian Women
      (pp. 145-164)
      Anna Rotkirch and Katja Kesseli

      In most EU member states and other industrialized countries, people are having fewer children and becoming parents later in life than previous generations did. On average, women are in their late twenties, and men a couple years older, when they have their first child. This trend has stimulated much research and debate focused on explaining the postponement of first births (Billari et al., 2006; Sobotka, 2004). However, there is another, distinct social path to low fertility, where parenthood arrives early in the life course while the second child is postponed or is never born. Not enough attention has been paid...

    • CHAPTER 8 “Supporting Genuine Development of the Child:” Public Childcare Centers versus Family in Post-Soviet Russia
      (pp. 165-184)
      Yulia Gradskova

      Researchers of Russian history and society have conventionally looked upon the Soviet politics of public childcare primarily from the perspective of the state’s need for female employment, while the role of preschool centers is seen as a substitute for the lack of maternal care (Chernova, 2008; Kravchenko, 2008; Kurganov, 1968; Saxonberg and Sirovatka, 2007; Tep lova, 2007). The assumption that children were collectivized and deprived of maternal love during communism was probably one of the most influential arguments of anti-Soviet and anti-communist propaganda. However, recent studies of Soviet social and gender politics show that nurseries and kindergartens were seen by...

    • CHAPTER 9 Everyday Continuity and Change: Family and Family Policy in Russia
      (pp. 185-206)
      Zhanna Kravchenko

      Social development in Russia in recent decades has been characterized by a complex and often contradictory constellation of traditional and modern elements of family life (Zdravomyslova, 2002). Public response to family change in the form of social policy has been contradictory as well. On the one hand, family policy inherited many legal and practical instruments from the Soviet period, which ensured some continuity in policy design. On the other hand, it has been reconsidered, redefined, and transformed. In the 1990s and the decade after, many national studies (see, for example, Antonov and Borisov, 1990; Darmodekhin, 2001; Lovtsova, 2003) were dedicated...

    • CHAPTER 10 Single Mothers—Clients or Citizens? Social Work with Poor Families in Russia
      (pp. 207-230)
      Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova and Pavel Romanov

      As the standard of living decreased during market reforms in Russia, the pressure on the social welfare system increased considerably. Due to the costliness and ineffectiveness of universalistic approaches, means-tested schemes became the dominant form of social support. That has led to a decrease in the number of groups eligible for welfare, and to the introduction of monetary benefits instead of social services and privileges (such as free public transport and reduced fees for communal services). The process of social policy liberalization in contemporary Russia is characterized by this shift to a market welfare system and the use of means-testing...

    • CHAPTER 11 Welfare Crisis and Crisis Centers in Russia Today
      (pp. 231-250)
      Aino Saarinen

      The “shock therapy” implemented in Russia in the early 1990s and the economic decline of the late 1990s led to a tenfold increase in poverty at the same time as social rights as a whole were badly eroded. Women in particular— both as paid employees and recipients of various benefits and services— suffered from the disintegration of the state welfare system (UNICEF, 1999, pp. 1–21). Today there is at last some good news about Russia. By the mid-1990s, the UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) ranked Russia seventy-second among the countries of “medium human development.” In 2007 it ranked sixty-seventh...

    • CHAPTER 12 Marriage and Divorce Law in Russia and the Baltic States: Overview of Recent Changes
      (pp. 251-272)
      Olga A. Khazova

      One of the immediate results of the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and the formation of the new independent states was significant law reform in these countries. Family law reform was an integral part of this revision. It had to be adapted to the new social and economic realities, which were accompanied by tremendous political change. New legislation on marriage and the family was enacted both in Russia and the Baltic states. In Russia it took the form of the Family Code adopted in 1995. In the Baltic states, new family law provisions were incorporated into the Civil Codes:...

    • CHAPTER 13 Doing Parenting in Post-Socialist Estonia and Latvia
      (pp. 273-296)
      Ingegerd Municio-Larsson

      This chapter is about parenthood, about the rights and obligations that come with being a mother or a father.¹In order to find out what is thought to be proper for a woman or a man in relation to her/his children, parents who have divorced are interviewed and asked about how they organize their lives. The idea is that when a couple divorces, it becomes necessary to spell out how to share duties and responsibilities that previously did not require explanations. The concept of doing parenting in the title denotes a post-structuralist approach to studying differences between women and men as...

    • CHAPTER 14 Gendered Experiences in Entrepreneurship, Family and Social Activities in Russia
      (pp. 297-318)
      Ann-Mari Sätre

      In the Soviet Union the state took responsibility for a large share of duties traditionally dealt with by families. When the Soviet system collapsed, it was expected that budget-financed, female-dominated sectors such as health care and education would be the first to suffer from the reduction in government funding. Simultaneously, reforms such as those reflected in the constitution of 1993 and the family law adopted in 1995 made it possible for women to opt not to work outside the home by establishing material obligations of family members to each other (Semeinyi Kodeks…, 1995, art.85–87). The abolishment of the Soviet...

  8. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 319-322)
  9. Index
    (pp. 323-326)