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And They Lived Happily Ever After

Norms and Everyday Practices of Parenthood in Russia and Eastern Europe

Edited by Helene Carlbäck, Yulia Gradskova and Zhanna Kravchenko

Publication Year: 2012

Takes a comparative perspective on family life and childhood in the past half century in Russia and Eastern Europe, highlighting similarities and differences. 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.

Published by: Central European University Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Abbreviations

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pp. vii

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pp. ix

The collection of texts in the present book started with a conference held in September 2008 at the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES) at Södertörn University. Titled “Family, Marriage and Parent - hood in Eastern Europe...

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pp. 1-22

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...

Part I: 1940s-1980s: The Family as a "Basic Unit of Socialist Society"

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pp. 23-141

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1. Lone Motherhood in Soviet Russia in the Mid-20th Century—In a European Context

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pp. 25-46

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...

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2. Family, Divorce, and Comrades’ Courts: Soviet Family and Public Organizations During the Thaw

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pp. 47-64

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...

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3. A Life of Labor, a Life of Love: Telling the Life of a Young Peasant Mother Facing Collectivization

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pp. 65-84

The household of a peasant family in the pre-collective period was a unit of production and consumption, but collectivization disrupted the production function. The aim of state socialism in agrarian matters was to dissolve the traditional peasant household radically...

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4. East German Women Going West: Family, Children and Partners in Life-Experience Literature

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pp. 85-104

“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...

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5. Why Does Public Policy Implementation Fail? Lithuanian Office of State Benefits for Mothers of Large Families and Single Mothers, 1944–1956

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pp. 105-122

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...

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6. The Latvian Family Experience with Sovietization 1945–1990

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pp. 123-141

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...

Part II: 1990s-2000s: Social Transformation in the Mirror of Family Life

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7. “Two Children Puts You in the Zone of Social Misery:” Childbearing and Risk Perception among Russian Women

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pp. 145-164

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...

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8. “Supporting Genuine Development of the Child:” Public Childcare Centers Versus Family in Post-Soviet Russia

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pp. 165-184

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...

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9. Everyday Continuity and Change: Family and Family Policy in Russia

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pp. 185-206

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...

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10. Single Mothers—Clients or Citizens? Social Work with Poor Families in Russia

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pp. 207-229

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...

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11. Welfare Crisis and Crisis Centers in Russia Today

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pp. 231-250

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...

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12. Marriage and Divorce Law in Russia and the Baltic States: Overview of Recent Changes

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pp. 251-272

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...

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13. Doing Parenting in Post-Socialist Estonia and Latvia

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pp. 273-295

This chapter is about parenthood, about the rights and obligations that come with being a mother or a father.1 In 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...

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14. Gendered Experiences in Entrepreneurship, Family and Social Activities in Russia

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pp. 297-318

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...

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 319-321


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pp. 323-326

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9786155053597
Print-ISBN-13: 9786155053573

Page Count: 338
Publication Year: 2012