State and Society in Small-town Russia: A Feminist-ethnographic Inquiry into the Boundaries of Society in the Finnish-Russian Borderland

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirja

Kuvaus

This study explores state-society interrelations in contemporary Russia through citizens’ involvement in civil society by asking: What kinds of organizational civic activities occur? How are these forms of civic activity interwoven with the state and public structures? Finally, why do particular forms occur? The state-society relationship is analyzed through the following concepts: 1) state-society patterns, 2) role of civil society organizations, 3) transnational interaction, and 4) gender. Instead of the conventional sectoral thinking, the society is treated as spaces interdependent of one another.

“Messy” conceptions of civil society and the state are opened up empirically. The analysis is grounded on an extensive ethnographic investigation within the Sortavala district (incl. villages) in Russian Karelia. The data includes more than 150 interviews; participant observation in many events; over 500 pages of field notes; and documents. 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 EU allows a fascinating view that is peripheral and transnational at the same time. By zooming in on a very local setting allows revealing what really goes on concerning the studied relationship in its daily practices. Nevertheless, the analysis is not restricted to this micro world but is extended to a larger macro-level environment.

The study performed a thorough consideration of a wide set of citizens’ organizations, explored the understanding and disaggregation of the state, thus concentrated on both sides of the studied relationship, and focused on the boundaries and convergences of those two spheres. In doing so, it diversified the rather stereotypical picture of the weak and apolitical Russian civil society co-opted by the state. The research showed complexities of the Russian state-society relationship: perhaps the most compelling finding concerns the significant overlap and interdependence between the state structures and civil society organizations when it came to the social organizations in particular. Sometimes it is impossible to draw the line where the state ends and society begin. The study also illuminated the multiple parallel roles of Russian socially oriented civil society organizations, which were solely apolitical in their activities. It diversified also the picture in terms of gender: women dominated the sphere, but also men participated, in membership organizations in particular. Concerning the transnational (Finnish, in particular) impact, the study showed some benefits of foreign support. Through differentiation of the studied organizations into the categories of the social and membership organizations, the study showed the ignorance of such support for the Soviet-type membership organizations that have large constituencies and, consequently, potentially the ability to challenge state policies.
Alkuperäiskielienglanti
JulkaisupaikkaHelsinki
Kustantaja
Painoksen ISBN978-952-10-9076-9
Sähköinen ISBN978-952-10-9077-6
TilaJulkaistu - 2013
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG4 Tohtorinväitöskirja (monografia)

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  • 5141 Sosiologia

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@phdthesis{98bee458f1174c56bbff5ed682cff125,
title = "State and Society in Small-town Russia: A Feminist-ethnographic Inquiry into the Boundaries of Society in the Finnish-Russian Borderland",
abstract = "This study explores state-society interrelations in contemporary Russia through citizens’ involvement in civil society by asking: What kinds of organizational civic activities occur? How are these forms of civic activity interwoven with the state and public structures? Finally, why do particular forms occur? The state-society relationship is analyzed through the following concepts: 1) state-society patterns, 2) role of civil society organizations, 3) transnational interaction, and 4) gender. Instead of the conventional sectoral thinking, the society is treated as spaces interdependent of one another. “Messy” conceptions of civil society and the state are opened up empirically. The analysis is grounded on an extensive ethnographic investigation within the Sortavala district (incl. villages) in Russian Karelia. The data includes more than 150 interviews; participant observation in many events; over 500 pages of field notes; and documents. 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 EU allows a fascinating view that is peripheral and transnational at the same time. By zooming in on a very local setting allows revealing what really goes on concerning the studied relationship in its daily practices. Nevertheless, the analysis is not restricted to this micro world but is extended to a larger macro-level environment.The study performed a thorough consideration of a wide set of citizens’ organizations, explored the understanding and disaggregation of the state, thus concentrated on both sides of the studied relationship, and focused on the boundaries and convergences of those two spheres. In doing so, it diversified the rather stereotypical picture of the weak and apolitical Russian civil society co-opted by the state. The research showed complexities of the Russian state-society relationship: perhaps the most compelling finding concerns the significant overlap and interdependence between the state structures and civil society organizations when it came to the social organizations in particular. Sometimes it is impossible to draw the line where the state ends and society begin. The study also illuminated the multiple parallel roles of Russian socially oriented civil society organizations, which were solely apolitical in their activities. It diversified also the picture in terms of gender: women dominated the sphere, but also men participated, in membership organizations in particular. Concerning the transnational (Finnish, in particular) impact, the study showed some benefits of foreign support. Through differentiation of the studied organizations into the categories of the social and membership organizations, the study showed the ignorance of such support for the Soviet-type membership organizations that have large constituencies and, consequently, potentially the ability to challenge state policies.",
keywords = "5141 Sociology",
author = "Meri Kulmala",
year = "2013",
language = "English",
isbn = "978-952-10-9076-9",
series = "Publications of the Department of Social Research",
publisher = "University of Helsinki, Department of Social Research",
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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.

Helsinki : University of Helsinki, Department of Social Research, 2013. 334 s.

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirja

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T1 - State and Society in Small-town Russia

T2 - A Feminist-ethnographic Inquiry into the Boundaries of Society in the Finnish-Russian Borderland

AU - Kulmala, Meri

PY - 2013

Y1 - 2013

N2 - This study explores state-society interrelations in contemporary Russia through citizens’ involvement in civil society by asking: What kinds of organizational civic activities occur? How are these forms of civic activity interwoven with the state and public structures? Finally, why do particular forms occur? The state-society relationship is analyzed through the following concepts: 1) state-society patterns, 2) role of civil society organizations, 3) transnational interaction, and 4) gender. Instead of the conventional sectoral thinking, the society is treated as spaces interdependent of one another. “Messy” conceptions of civil society and the state are opened up empirically. The analysis is grounded on an extensive ethnographic investigation within the Sortavala district (incl. villages) in Russian Karelia. The data includes more than 150 interviews; participant observation in many events; over 500 pages of field notes; and documents. 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 EU allows a fascinating view that is peripheral and transnational at the same time. By zooming in on a very local setting allows revealing what really goes on concerning the studied relationship in its daily practices. Nevertheless, the analysis is not restricted to this micro world but is extended to a larger macro-level environment.The study performed a thorough consideration of a wide set of citizens’ organizations, explored the understanding and disaggregation of the state, thus concentrated on both sides of the studied relationship, and focused on the boundaries and convergences of those two spheres. In doing so, it diversified the rather stereotypical picture of the weak and apolitical Russian civil society co-opted by the state. The research showed complexities of the Russian state-society relationship: perhaps the most compelling finding concerns the significant overlap and interdependence between the state structures and civil society organizations when it came to the social organizations in particular. Sometimes it is impossible to draw the line where the state ends and society begin. The study also illuminated the multiple parallel roles of Russian socially oriented civil society organizations, which were solely apolitical in their activities. It diversified also the picture in terms of gender: women dominated the sphere, but also men participated, in membership organizations in particular. Concerning the transnational (Finnish, in particular) impact, the study showed some benefits of foreign support. Through differentiation of the studied organizations into the categories of the social and membership organizations, the study showed the ignorance of such support for the Soviet-type membership organizations that have large constituencies and, consequently, potentially the ability to challenge state policies.

AB - This study explores state-society interrelations in contemporary Russia through citizens’ involvement in civil society by asking: What kinds of organizational civic activities occur? How are these forms of civic activity interwoven with the state and public structures? Finally, why do particular forms occur? The state-society relationship is analyzed through the following concepts: 1) state-society patterns, 2) role of civil society organizations, 3) transnational interaction, and 4) gender. Instead of the conventional sectoral thinking, the society is treated as spaces interdependent of one another. “Messy” conceptions of civil society and the state are opened up empirically. The analysis is grounded on an extensive ethnographic investigation within the Sortavala district (incl. villages) in Russian Karelia. The data includes more than 150 interviews; participant observation in many events; over 500 pages of field notes; and documents. 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 EU allows a fascinating view that is peripheral and transnational at the same time. By zooming in on a very local setting allows revealing what really goes on concerning the studied relationship in its daily practices. Nevertheless, the analysis is not restricted to this micro world but is extended to a larger macro-level environment.The study performed a thorough consideration of a wide set of citizens’ organizations, explored the understanding and disaggregation of the state, thus concentrated on both sides of the studied relationship, and focused on the boundaries and convergences of those two spheres. In doing so, it diversified the rather stereotypical picture of the weak and apolitical Russian civil society co-opted by the state. The research showed complexities of the Russian state-society relationship: perhaps the most compelling finding concerns the significant overlap and interdependence between the state structures and civil society organizations when it came to the social organizations in particular. Sometimes it is impossible to draw the line where the state ends and society begin. The study also illuminated the multiple parallel roles of Russian socially oriented civil society organizations, which were solely apolitical in their activities. It diversified also the picture in terms of gender: women dominated the sphere, but also men participated, in membership organizations in particular. Concerning the transnational (Finnish, in particular) impact, the study showed some benefits of foreign support. Through differentiation of the studied organizations into the categories of the social and membership organizations, the study showed the ignorance of such support for the Soviet-type membership organizations that have large constituencies and, consequently, potentially the ability to challenge state policies.

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M3 - Doctoral Thesis

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T3 - Publications of the Department of Social Research

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Kulmala M. State and Society in Small-town Russia: A Feminist-ethnographic Inquiry into the Boundaries of Society in the Finnish-Russian Borderland. Helsinki: University of Helsinki, Department of Social Research, 2013. 334 s. (Publications of the Department of Social Research; 2013:4).