Author:Rebecca Kay (Glasgow University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper will present plans for an ethnographic study of complex systems for the production of social security in a rural Russian context. It will explore processes of in/exclusion in interactions between formal provision, informal networks and the (re)production of communities of care.
Paper long abstract:
The project draws on anthropological understandings of social security as encompassing both material and emotional forms of provision and involving both state/public frameworks, regulations and institutions, and more interpersonal/private networks, practices and relationships. On this basis, the project explores social security as something which villagers actively produce, drawing on a combination of state/non state, formal/informal resources, structures and networks. In trying to understand these processes and practices, attention is drawn to the influence of informal networks and the role of charismatic leadership in maintaining state structures and developing new programmes for socially vulnerable groups. Yet such informal networks (re)produce categories of exclusion as well as inclusion. Thus, understandings of 'deserving need' and hierarchies of power and authority play an important role in defining both access to support and obligations to provide care which are differentiated along lines of gender, class and ethnicity. The relationship between state and non-state systems of support and provision and the differing ways in which these relate to the provision of material and/or emotional support is also a key focus of study. Here the emphasis which villagers place on integration into 'caring communities' as a key feature of security is of interest, particularly as this exists alongside support for neoliberal understandings of the 'self sufficient individual' and a renunciation of 'dependent' attitudes and 'excessive' expectations of state support.
Care, welfare and mutuality: anthropological perspectives on shifting concepts, boundaries and practices