National Features of the Social Exclusion Regime, or on Possibilities of Applying the Underclass Theory in Russia

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Sveta YAROSHENKO, St.Petersburg State University, Russian Federation
Tatjana LYTKINA, Institute of social-economic and power problems of the North, Komi scientific centre of Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
The main purpose of the report is to discuss the possibilities of borrowing the underclass theory to explain the reasons for the reproduction of poverty in Russia. We have been conducting research on Russian poverty in the last two decades under the conditions of radical social transformation caused by market reforms and by the transition from real socialism to real capitalism. Longitudinal qualitative research among registered poor was combined with surveys among urban residents in one’s Russian region. Our research focus shifted from one point to another. We have posed different research questions. But one was and still is the same about reasons to be excluded from society or to fall into the underclass in Russia. However, the initial idea of applying the underclass theory in the Russian context was faced with a number of difficulties. In the report, we will focus on three points of the research process and how these difficulties were overcome. The first is connected with the way the research interest was formed and in what ways the advantages of addressing precisely this theory were seen. The second concerns what from this theory did not fit into Russian reality and what had to be done with the "theoretical remainder". The third is how the theoretical puzzle has changed, and how it has been possible to keep attention on the key research issue. As a result, we propose to discuss the comparative prospects of borrowing a theory created in a specific national context and the conditions under which such borrowing allows reconstructing an outdated theory.