Recent research projects

Leaving care in post-Soviet Eurasia (2023)

This project draws on approaches from sociology, criminology and comparative social policy to explore transitions from care in post-Soviet Eurasia, where, in the context of long-run social and economic dislocations, the risks facing care-experienced youth have been especially high. Child welfare reform across Eurasia has followed a policy of deinstitutionalisation (Kulmala 2020), which seeks to shift away from the large-scale state children’s homes of the Soviet era towards more family-like forms of care. However, in contrast to the western literature, relatively little is known about the outcomes of this reform programme in reshaping the care and aftercare systems available to young people, how these specific forms of care are shaped by wider welfare state developments, or how young people themselves navigate all of this (Lerch and Stein 2010; Stein 2014). Furthermore, while juvenile justice systems are known to be key in shaping outcomes amongst care leavers elsewhere in the world (Fitzpatrick 2022), non-custodial sentences and diversionary practices are in their infancy across the post-Soviet space, and many young people are still subjected to the adult penal code (Muradyan et al. 2020). 

The project will carry out case study research in Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Estonia, and seeks to explore: the ways in which systems of care and aftercare in a range of welfare contexts (referring to education, employment, housing, juvenile justice etc) across post-Soviet Eurasia underpin and embed resilience and vulnerability among care leavers; the extent to which the development of emergent post-Soviet systems and practices of care and aftercare have been path dependent or, conversely, open to policy diffusion and intervention (An et al. 2019).

Funding: SESPS Research Development Grant

Masculinities in Transition: Enduring Privilege? (2018-19)

This project asks, in what ways should women-focused interventions in development projects and investments be complemented by a clearer understanding of masculinities in order to increase the resilience of transition, and women’s and men’s equality of opportunity? In the context of current EBRD portfolios in selected transition countries, what strategies for engaging men as agents of positive change, alongside women and girls, might be recommended?

The project team, based at The Institute for Development Studies (University of Sussex), University of Southampton and American University in Cairo, have conducted qualitative and quantitative research in each of the four countries selected in order to provide answers to these questions.

Funding: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, €165000

Masculinities and well-being in contemporary Russia (2012-15)

This study addresses the changing nature of masculinities in contemporary Russia and the relationship between men’s gendered performances and their well-being. The study begins from a perspective which embraces a notion of gender as a lived, relational, intersubjective dimension of men’s identities (Robinson and Hockey 2011: 2), and of masculinities as being subject to a continual process of reinvention (Connell 2005). In doing so, it aims to explore the changing ways in which men with varied social characteristics ‘do’ masculinity in three spheres of their lives – work, home and leisure – and the relationship between these gendered performances and their well-being. In particular, the project seeks to move away from the notion of a ‘male crisis’ in Russia rooted in an understanding of masculine identity and well-being as synonymous with work. Instead, it seeks to explore the different ways in which different groups of men have responded to change in various aspects of their lives, and the complex ways in which performances and validations of masculinity in these spheres variously impact upon their well-being.

Funding: University of Southampton, £10,945

Young people leaving care in the Russian Federation (2016-19)

This project, funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust, explores the experiences of young people leaving care in the Russian Federation. It seeks to shed light on the sources of and barriers to resilience amongst care leavers in a rapidly transforming post-care environment. 

Young people leaving care are among the most vulnerable members of any society. To avoid marginalization they are dependent both on the resilience they build while in care and on the services available to support them through often accelerated and compressed life stage transitions. This project focuses on the experiences of care leavers in Russia, where the need for strong forms of aftercare support is especially acute because of the ways in which the post-Soviet context has magnified the role of family and kinship in managing young people’s access to education, work and housing (Walker 2010). However, what little is known about the patchwork of services available to care leavers in Russia indicates that it is seriously inadequate, often increasing rather than mitigating the risk of marginalization. The project intends to shed further light both on the forms of transition and aftercare services available to care leavers in Russia, and on the ways care leavers are able to build resilience to overcome the obstacles they face, either through or outside of such services.

Funding: British Academy, £10,000

Economic Change, State Priorities and the Wellbeing of Vulnerable Groups: Children and the Elderly in Russia (2012-13)

The project aims to establish the degree to which demographic and health policy in Russia has shifted towards a pro-natalist approach at the expense of the older population.

Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the project explores the differential impact of the recent economic crisis in Russia on the well-being of children and the elderly, and the extent to which these two groups have been the target of state concern and social policy measures.

The project aims to establish the degree to which demographic and health policy in Russia has shifted towards a pro-natalist approach at the expense of the older population.

Funding: Nuffield Foundation, £15, 000