Meanings and practices of degovernmentalization of social services

Meanings and practices of degovernmentalization of social services

Klimova S.G.

Cand. Sci. (Philos.), Leading Researcher, Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

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Klimova S.G. Meanings and practices of degovernmentalization of social services. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 2. P. 48-56


This ar ticle looks into the problem related to disparities in the meanings of social welfare degovernmentalization in regulatory documents and in opinions of experts and entrepreneurs engaged in social business. It cites data of a Russia-wide survey conducted to study practices of the general public applying to non-government social institutions (nurseries, outpatient clinics, hospitals, rest homes, etc.). The process of social service degovernmentalization in Russia, which has become more intense in the last two or three years, drastically changes relations between the government, general public as service users and entrepreneurs providing social services. Government workers should understand and accept their new functions in the new relation configuration. People should become accustomed to the fact that the services they receive are to be paid for (not necessarily by themselves). Entrepreneurs should come to understand the difference between social business and production business and adopt the new role of a social worker with entrepreneurial skills. The aims of degovernmentalization declared in regulatory documents and experts’ opinions are as follows: quality, broad variety and availability of services. The data of the mass survey and interviews with entrepreneurs show that the three aims do not always correspond to the actual practices. According to experts, there are also three means of attaining the aims: competition; a possibility to attract non-budgetary investment; a possibility to use charitable donations and volunteers’ labour. On closer examination, competition in the social sphere is not unequivocally positive and acceptable. It works in the narrow field of expensive services. But, as a rule, entrepreneurs do not want competition and seek to find a niche. By no means are all of social services attractive in terms of non-budgetary investment. Volunteering and charity are forms of people’s above-normal activity, which are appropriate for extraordinary situations and not for long-term systematic work.

Degovernmentalization of social services; quality of social services; entrepreneurship; competition in the social sphere; statutory regulation of the social sphere


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Content No 2, 2017