GOTHENBURG, Sweden, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Despite changes in Russia in the past 20 years, legacies of the past still shape post-Soviet welfare policy realities, a researcher in Sweden says.
Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova of the University of Gothenburg said one of the findings of her thesis is that the reformulated welfare system established social work as a profession and brought new services.
However, it also led to a decline in childcare facilities, due to the privatization of state-owned organizations, which in turn increased the burden of childcare on families and led to women being disempowered, Iarskaia-Smirnova said.
Post Soviet welfare hierarchies increased rather than declined, because the general welfare system is now based on a means test approach and poor parents can be subject to governmental control.
"Today, many Russians still carry an idealized image of socialist welfare, even though the old Soviet welfare system was over-centralized, with state-run services and a strict hierarchy," Iarskaia-Smirnova said in a statement. "This corresponded well with old paternalist attitudes, but brought overall apathy and passivity."
Iarskaia-Smirnova said social workers are gradually acquiring new knowledge and skills that can help them contribute to operating in a more democratic, egalitarian manner, rather than following the old paternalistic scheme of thought and action.