On Possibilities of Applying the Underclass Theory in Russia

On Possibilities of Applying the Underclass Theory in Russia

Yaroshenko S.S.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Assoc. Prof. of Comparative Sociology Chair in St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia svetayaroshenko@gmail.com

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Yaroshenko S.S. On Possibilities of Applying the Underclass Theory in Russia. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2019. No 9. P. 28-38


The main purpose of the paper is to discuss possibilities of borrowing the underclass theory to explain reasons for the reproduction of poverty in Russia. Analysis is based on theoretical and empirical studies of Russian poverty over the last two decades under the conditions of radical social transformation caused by market reforms and transition from real socialism to real capitalism. As a result, the comparative prospects of borrowing a theory created in a specific national context are considered. On the one side, the underclass theory fits into the framework of the critical theory and various mechanisms of social exclusion (from hidden exploitation to cultural imperialism) are examined, and on the other, the external anomalies of the post-socialist context inheriting the achievements of real socialism with full employment and a developed budget sphere are revealed. It is proved that the reproduction of poverty in postsocialist Russia has its specifics: it takes the form of an unfolding exclusion. At the same time, the structuring of positions in persistent poverty goes along class and gender lines and is mediated by defensive strategies: mobilizing previously accumulated resources to cover costs associated with deprivation of means of subsistence, being forced to work for a living and selling labor in conditions of low status.

comparative theories of the underclass; regime of social exclusion; truncated social citizenship; defensive life strategies; postsocialism


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